Facebook Helps Reunite Kashmir Woman With Family After 60 Years

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LOWER DIR:  A lot of people spend too much time on Facebook. Some are looking at memes, some are doing quizzes. Others are looking for what their former friends are up to, and some are cyberstalking their ex-boyfriends and girlfriends from decades past.

And sometimes, social media ends up helping us find long-lost relatives. And by long we mean a lifetime.

In a truly remarkable series of events, a woman who was forced into marriage when she was just eight and went ‘missing’ over 60 years ago has been reunited with her family, all thanks to some enterprising use of the social networking website.

After her ‘disappearance’, Jehan Sultana, now 75, remarried, moved a thousand miles away, raised six children, and is now a widow.

When she was eight, her grandfather gave her away as swara – a cultural practice wherein young girls are forcibly married – to a man from Charsadda.

After a few years, she disappeared. Her family later searched every nook and corner of the country, but couldn’t find a trace of her.

Inamuddin, her older brother, told The Express Tribune that her family thought that she was dead.

Rahimuddin, a resident of the Kandaru village in Lower Dir runs ‘Lower Dir, KPK, Pakistan‘ a Facebook community page for residents of the area.

In November 2016, Rahimuddin said he received a Facebook message from Kashmir valley. The sender was Ziaul Haq, one of the Sultana’s sons, and he was asking for help in finding his mother’s family in Gorkoi Village, Upper Dir.

“I tried my level best to find her and was finally able to locate her brother who confirmed that his sister had gone missing decades ago,” Rahimuddin added.

Sultana and her children spoke to her family in Pakistan via the IMO video chat app, Rahimuddin said, adding that she passed out when she saw her siblings.

Ikramullah, a friend of Rahimuddin’s who escorted Sultana from the Wagah border to Kandaru, said she now has three sons and three daughters, all Indian nationals, while her husband died back in 1987. He had been trying to help the woman get a visa for Pakistan for over three months.

Finally, the high commission came through and granted visas to the woman, one of her daughters, and one of her sons.

“I am overjoyed at having met my family. I dreamt of this moment for years,” Sultana said.

When asked how they reached Indian side of Kashmir, the woman’s son Ziaul Haq said on the phone that she married his Kashmiri father while he was working as a labourer in Lahore.

He said his mother was running a successful small business in Kashmir, while he was working as a software engineer.

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