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Tarn Taran village ready to roll out red carpet for Shahbaz Sharif
Varinder Singh/TNS

Jatti Umra (Tarn Taran), Dec12
There is hectic activity in the sleepy village of Jatti Umra, some 35 km from Tarn Taran, as it prepares to give a red carpet welcome for ‘son of the soil’ and Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on December 16.

While four makeshift helipads are coming up in the village for the arrival of the VVIPs, a newly constructed metalled link road will offer a smooth ride to Sharif and about a dozen family members, including his cousins, as they visit their ancestral village.

Punjab (East) Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his brother, Pakistan ex-PM Nawaz Sharif’s forefathers had migrated to East Punjab (now Pakistan) in 1933 in search of greener pastures. Though there is no ancestral home of the Sharifs in sight now, a huge gurdwara stands on one side of the village partly on land that belonged to the Sharif family.

Now a leading business and industrial family of Pakistan, the Sharifs had set out on their journey of success from this village and hold the village and Punjabi language in high esteem. Jatti Umra finds a mention on almost all the Sharifs’ sugar and steel mills in Pakistan, both in Punjabi and Urdu. Villagers will hold a ‘deepmala’ on the night of December 15 to express their joy and happiness and to showcase their sense of belonging and strong emotional link with the Sharifs. They feel Sharif’s visit will not only refresh the “dimming” link of the family with its village, but also bring modern amenities for them.

Senior officers, including Tarn Taran Deputy Commissioner (DC) Harmesh Singh Pabla and SSP Kanwaljit Singh, have begun making the rounds of the village to supervise security arrangements and development works.

Village children are particularly pleased as they have learnt that the Sharifs and a number of VVIPs - including Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia -- will be arriving at the village in helicopters. Four makeshift helipads are coming up at a feverish pace in the fields on the village outskirts.

CM Parkash Singh Badal will declare Jatti Umra a model village after he arrives with his Pakistan Punjab counterpart around 9 am on December 16. Work is on in full swing on an array of development projects worth Rs 2.75 crore. The village primary school building and aanganwadi centre are being rebuilt.

“Rs 2.25 crore has already been released by the government for development works against the estimate of Rs 4 crore needed for the projects. More development works will take off once the village is declared a model village,” said DC Harmesh Singh Pabla.

Memories of Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif’s forefathers are fresh in the minds of village elders. “I used to play with Nawaz and Shahbaz’s uncles -- Bashir, Majja and Suraj. One of their uncles, Barkat Ali, was a trader of oxen. Nawaz and Shahbaz are seven brothers and their grandfather used to practice ‘Hiqmat’ (Ayurvedic and Unani medicine) in a nearby village,” recalled Massa Singh, a resident in his late eighties.





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