Moved by Kashmiri migrants’ plight, rly staffer pens novel

On December 19, 2008, Pune railway employee Kuldeep Choubey was passing by Raja Bahadur Mill Road around 7 pm, when a truck, packed with people, stopped in front of him.

Policemen, who had apparently been awaiting their arrival, started yelling at the top of their voices, asking the people on the truck to get down quickly. More trucks arrived soon.

"I asked an old woman who they were and why the policemen were leaving them there. She said wryly, 'Don't you know? We are terrorists, we were involved in 26/11 attacks.' I could see the pain and anger in her eyes," remembers 35-year-old Choubey, a Grade I technician at Indian Railways, Pune.

The sight of the distressed migrants was so moving that Choubey stayed back, just to speak to the Kashmiri migrants and listen to their stories.

Now, that night's experience five years ago has been compiled into a Hindi novel 'Meer I Love You'. "To turn it into a novel, I had to add 20 per cent fictional elements. I hope the book will bring in focus the issues of Kashmiris across the country," says Choubey.

Over 400 Kashmiri migrants were asked to leave Pune overnight on December 19, 2008, and Choubey witnessed the incident by chance. The migrants were staying on a vacant plot at Kalewadi and were evacuated by the police and the Pimpri-Chinchwad New Town Development Authority (PCNDTA), as part of the heightened security measures in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Newsline was the first to publish a report on this on December 20, 2008.

The migrants were made to stay on the land near Overhead Equipment Office at Raja Bahdur Mill Road till they boarded the train — Jammu Tawi Express — in groups. The last group left on December 21 by the 5.35 pm train.

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