Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, July 26
Outside a “pansari” shop in the congested Basti Danishmanda, a group of old men are discussing the outcome of the Pakistan general elections. With cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan in the reckoning for the next Prime Minister, pride is writ large on their wrinkled faces, thanks to his Jalandhar connection.
Sixty-five-year-old Fakir Chand, an area resident, says: “Imran Khan’s maternal family was based here. Shaukat Khanum, Imran’s mother, belonged to this place. They were instrumental in setting up Islamia College here in the early 1940s.”
Pointing towards a “peeli kothi” in the area, he claims it to be of the Khanum’s family. “Our elders had told us that Imran’s mother was born here. Imran’s paternal family had properties in the area which they abandoned during Partition,” claims Chand, who had worked with an evening college that ran from one of the ancestral houses of Imran’s family.
Even though the huge house in one of the most congested lanes of the area is in a shambles, it still reminds one of the colonial era.
Ravinder Dhir, another area resident, and president of the Khel Udyog Sangh, says: “Imran had visited the area around four years ago along with his family. He had turned emotional on seeing houses where his ancestors were born.”
He says the family mostly hailed from the Basti Nau and Basti Danishmanda area. “They keep visiting the area. Two years ago, many of his close relatives visited their ancestral houses,” he says.
Most families that are aware about Imran’s Jalandhar roots are already celebrating his much-anticipated win. “The people of Pakistan must support Imran as he was a great sportsman and now a great politician,” hopes 80-year-old Gurbachan Singh, who had migrated from Sialkot during Partition.
While speaking about his Jalandhar roots, Imran Khan had said his family was based here for over 600 years. “It was a real trauma for them to relocate to Lahore. We had several relatives in Jalandhar, all of them were uprooted,” Imran had told mediapersons during his visit to the city in 2004.
Will the relations between the two countries worsen further under the Imran regime? The locals refuse to believe so. “This is not possible. He is like ‘Punjab da puttar’. He will not bow down to political pressures as from heart, he will always remain a true Punjabi,” says 75-year-old Sardari Lal.
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