I felt too tired to wake for Sehri (pre-dawn meal before closing fast in Ramadhan), even though I slept outside the hotel inches from a dinner table and half a dozen vigorously munching souls. I eventually got up around 6am and felt relieved to find my mini-laptop still plugged into a socket in a discreet corner of the hotel. I was also pleasantly surprised that the hotel owner insisted on only charging 50 rupees, that too for dinner last night.
There wasn't much electricity to shout about the night before though I remember an invigorating conversation I had with a couple of youth, whom I surveyed at the hotel last night. They were fully conversant with matters of public concern and had urged me - in much the same manner as others have done before them – to institutionalise my efforts. A work-in-progress and difficult without a secure channel of funding, I took great pains to explain to them.
My first day of walking on a 'Citizenship Walk along the LOC' was modest compared to the standard I'd set myself to reach Tao Butt (northern most habitation in AJK) in about six to eight weeks. I could only walk five kilometres or so southwards from Mo-il to Chamb, despite wanting to walk further to Manawar. The two lads I'd met last night – true to their word – came to visit me in Chamb and insisted that I travel with them on a motorbike, I reluctantly agreed.
The video (link attached above) is of us in Manawar, where the area was still reeling from the murder of a mohajir (migrant from the other side of the divide post-1947) by a local. In discussion, I also learned that the areas of Chamb and Manawar were apparently taken by Pakistan in it's 1971 conflict with India. Much of the land in this region belonged to local Hindus prior to 1947 and was taken over by local Muslims who would have hitherto been land tillers or servants. The mohajirs were not able to take possession of land (certainly not in the quantity that they would have been entitled to) from locals. A modicum of tension has persisted between these two categories of people since 1947.
When we returned to Chamb I was invited to a prominent local shrine known as Khairowal Durbar. It was an opportunity to sample a spiritual yet festive rural environment where I interacted with many people who had come from far and wide, including my own district of Kotli. The spiritual head eagerly suggested that I spend the night there. I accepted his invitation.
The evening livened up particularly after iftaar (breaking of fast in Ramadhan at sunset). I had maintained my fast despite not availing of sehri and tempered my thirst by showering with what seemed like ice-cold water gushing out from a heavy-duty motorised tube-well on three or four occasions during the day.
There was zero interaction with 'authorities' on this day.