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Posted at: Feb 3, 2016, 1:15 PM; last updated: Feb 3, 2016, 1:15 PM (IST)

Jatti Umra loses its last link with Sharifs

Jatti Umra loses its last link with Sharifs
A file photo of Massa Singh (left) with Pakistan Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif during latter’s visit to ancestral village Jatti Umra in 2013.

GS Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 2

Massa Singh of Jatti Umra village, who had a long association with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family, died today. Massa Singh and Sharif's father Mian Muhammad were childhood friends.

Owing to the restrictions on the border, the two families could not meet often. But they kept in touch over the phone. Dilbagh Singh said after news about his father's death was conveyed to Sharif's office in Pakistan, condolence messages started pouring in on whatsapp.

One of these read: ‘Sarray pariwar nu saada salaam, atey afsos v kabool karna G’

Dilbagh Singh said they were in touch with Sharif’s cousin Mian Javed. "The Sharif family would often enquire about my father's well-being on the phone after he fell ill."

The Pakistan PM's palatial estate near Lahore is also named Jatti Umra.

Massa Singh last visited Nawaz Sharif in 2007 while on a visit to Pakistan to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. He had then handed over a letter to Sharif written by Jatti Umra residents, requesting that he visited his ancestral village.

In 2013, Sharif's brother and Pakistan Punjab’s CM Shehbaz Sharif visited Jatti Umra along with his family. They were given a red carpet welcome by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

As Shehbaz embraced his father’s childhood friend Massa Singh, he looked overwhelmed. " But the spotlight remained on Massa Singh," recalled Jatti Umra sarpanch Balwinder Singh.

"Proded by Sharif’s father, Massa Singh encouraged several jobless youths in the village to work in factories owned by the Sharif family in the Gulf. Today, many of them are well-settled there," said a resident.

Sharif’s was the only Muslim family in the Sikh-dominated village before Partition.

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