Akram had almost forgotten that he had an elder sister. Around 40 years back, when he was a toddler, his sister Munni went missing. His father tried to locate her for almost two years. Once they failed, they took her for dead.
On December 20, a viral video turned the life of Akram, a resident of a non-descript Saraitareen village in Sambhal, upside down. Everyone talked about a middle-aged woman from Karachi in Pakistan looking for her relatives in Sambhal who reside in village Saraitareen.
“I was shocked. I could not recognise my sister initially but in the descriptions she gave of the village and of her family there was no doubt that she was my eldest sister,” Akram told this reporter from Sambhal, where he works as a menial worker.
The script has close resemblance with the blockbuster movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan, in which Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi (Salman Khan) travels to Pakistan to reunite a six-year-old girl, Munni, with her family. In the movie, a local journalist, Chand Nawab, played an instrumental role in uniting Munni with her family while here too a local journalist, Md Gufran, who located Akram and showed him the video which had gone viral in WhatsApp, helped the family reunion.
“I saw the video in Moradabad media group. I belong to the same Saraitareen village and the details that the lady was giving interested me. I enquired from the elderly persons from my village about that lady and Mohammed Chhiddan, whom she claimed to be her father. This took me to Akram,” Gufran said.
The Munni in Bajrangi Bhaijaan had a protagonist in the form of Pawan, but for real-life Munni, she faced wolves, one of them her own uncle who sold her to a person in Delhi when she was just 16-17 years of age. That person later sold her to another person in Haryana and from there she was trafficked to Pakistan.
“My khaalu (uncle) took me to Delhi and sold me to a person. I went with him, because I knew him and he said he would take me to Delhi and bring me back within a few days,” Munni told this reporter from Karachi on a WhatsApp call.
Akram claims that his khaalu had taken his sister away because he wanted to take revenge on his father as his father married a second time to a lady whom his khaalu wanted to marry.
Munni wants to forget her initial years in Pakistan. “You can understand what had happened to me there,” she said.
But saviour for her came in the form of Sajjad Haider. She was staying with one of his tenants when Sajjad noticed her and found something amiss. “I do not need to elaborate, you can understand the plight of Munni,” Sajjad said.
She was rescued and later Sajjad married her despite pressure from the family and the society.
After marriage, Munni took a new name Bushra.
“I am happy now. I have four children. But I always wanted to meet my family -- my father, brothers and sisters. I do not know, but I remember about our locality and the people staying around our house,” Munni said.
Mohammad Chhiddan lived with his wife Muniza, elder daughter Munni, younger daughter Bhuri sons Munna alias Islam, Akram, and Baher Alam in Mohalla Hijdan of Saraitarin, Sambhal. In 1981, Munni suddenly disappeared. The father died in 1997 and mother Muniza also passed away in 2004. In 2010 Bhuri too died leaving behind three brothers.
“Almost every day we talk on the telephone. The conversation continues for hours and ends up with tears in our eyes,” Akram said.
“I appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to issue a visa for my sister so she can come to India to visit us,” Akram said.