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'I wanted to go in the inaugural bus'

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Even if Shahabuddin, 75, who lives in Uri town in Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla district, takes the bus to Muzaffarabad to meet his relatives there, he will not be able to see them.

He has been blind for nearly 25 years.

"I just want to go there," Shahabuddin, who, like many others in Uri, was not considered to travel on the inaugural bus to Muzaffarabad on April 7, told rediff.com.

But he is sure his time will come.

It has been 44 years since he saw his paternal uncle, who crossed the porous border and entered Pakistan occupied Kashmir in 1964. The uncle got married and settled down there.

"I don't know if he is dead or alive," Shahabuddin said, "but his family must still be there."

Like many others in Uri, Shahabuddin is happy that ties between India and Pakistan are getting better and that they have a better option if they want to travel to PoK.

But he is bitter the Indian authorities did not pass on to their Pakistan counterparts for clearance the names of people in his area who wanted to travel by the bus.

Of all the places in J&K, Uri town and its neighbouring villages have the most number of relatives across the border.

"Go to any house and you will hear tales similar to mine. Yet the forms were not distributed here," he complained.

Shahabuddin has married thrice. The first has given him a son, the second two daughters and the third, five daughters and two sons. His second wife is dead.

He generally ventures out of his home resting his arm on the shoulder of his youngest son from the third wife -- Liaqat Ali.

Asked his age, the boy said in English, "40."

Shahabuddin immediately corrected him. "14! 14! Not 40."

Asked when he expected to travel, Shahabuddin said, "I wanted to go in the inaugural bus. But I am old and blind. I cannot go without someone to guide me."

Also see:
They are pawns in the great game

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