Borders on insanity, indeed

In a first, American Brian Houston and Mexican Evelia Reyes wed on Sunday between the doors of the steel border gate between the US and Mexico that is opened for only an hour or so every year. It was the sixth time that the Door of Hope, as the gate is called, has opened since 2013, allowing people from the US And Mexico who cannot legally cross the border to visit without fear of deportation. At other times, families can talk but not touch through the steel fencing. “It’s a statement that love has no borders,” Houston said. “Even though we are divided by a giant fence here, we can still love each other on both sides of the fence.”

Sounds familiar? Closer home at the Wagah Border near Amritsar, we have our own Door of Hope. Where numerous such stories of pain, love and loss manifest every day. Remember Geeta? Uzma? And unlike these, many more die an timely death trapped in the hurdles of red tape and cross-border politics.

We are well aware of the helpless tweets from across the border pleading to the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for the visa. Our media doesn’t fail to take credit for every Pakistani patient who returns home cured. But what about those who can’t get here?

Pakistan generously doles out visas to Sikh pilgrims, whose visits are sometimes stalled by the Indian authorities suspicious of the activities of the Khalistani and other terror elements that side. But the same authorities in Islamabad drag their feet on visas to people, who wish to visit what was once home. Actor Rishi Kapoor recently tweeted, “I am 65 years old and I want to see Pakistan before I die. I want my children to see their roots.”

These are two sides of the same coin. India and Pakistan, so consumed are they in their mutual hatred and antagonism towards each other that ordinary lives that suffer and fade under their tyranny hardly ever matter to nations at large.

Politics goes on. Unrelenting. Unabated. Seventy years ago, it devoured millions over a few days. Now it devours, day after day, one after another. Divided by a giant fence, ordinary Indians and Pakistanis look for their real Door of Hope.

Columnist: 
Ritu Pandey