By Imran Khan
Purnea (Bihar): Days after the execution of Pakistani national Ajmal Amir Kasab for the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, the people of Pakistan are in a celebratory mode.
There is a village in Bihar that bears the same name as India’s neighbour, Pakistan, and in that little village, with about 35 households and a total population of about 250, residents are happy that justice has finally been done to a man responsible for so many deaths four years ago.
Pakistan is the name of a village in Singhiya panchayat, Srinagar block, Purnea district, Bihar. It is about 30 km from Purnea town, the district headquarters.
“People in Pakistan not only distributed sweets and burst crackers but also plan to organise a feast soon to celebrate the hanging of the terrorist,” said a police officer in Purnea, about 350 km from the state capital.
Surya Murmu, an upbeat Pakistan villager, said: “We were in a festive mood after hearing of the hanging and we celebrated the event with singing, dancing and distribution of sweets.”
Another villager, Banjua Hembram, said: “We have to get together and have a feast. This is an event that calls for celebration.”
Murmu recalled that after 26/11, when 166 people were killed by Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai, the villagers had even considered changing the name of their village.
That terrorist strike had been one that had shaken up the village community, Hembram agreed.
“We were so terribly affected by the events of November 26, 2008 that we had decided that it would be best to change the name of the village. The matter was discussed, but we later dropped the idea,” Murmu recalls.
District officials say that government documents record the name of the village as Pakistan.
So how did the village get its name? What is interesting is that there is not one Muslim family in the village, which comprises mostly Santhal tribal households. There is not one mosque in this Pakistan.
Elders in the village recall that the village was named soon after India’s partition in 1947.
“Many Muslims who earlier lived here chose to leave for East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), when the country was partitioned. We decided then that the village could be named in their memory,” one elderly villager said.
An official in the chief minister’s office told this correspondent that when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar informed a visiting 21-member Pakistani delegation in August that there was a village named after their country in the state, the delegation expressed surprise.
In that visiting Pakistani delegation there were 13 members of the Pakistan parliament, who had never heard of the village.
The official told IANS: “The chief minister showed the map of Pakistan village to the Pakistani delegates and explained that when all the Muslims of the village, then in Islampur district of Bengal, had migrated to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), the villagers left behind decided to name a village in memory of those who left.
Prior to the the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, Purnea too was part of Islampur, which now lies in the state of West Bengal. The Muslims who left the village for East Pakistan had handed over their property to Hindus in neighbouring areas.
The Santhal tribe, to which the villagers belong, is the largest tribal group in India.
Pakistan village is poor and illiterate; the literacy rate in Purnea district as a whole is just 31.51 percent. There is hardly a literate person in Pakistan village, where proper roads, a school or a hospital is hard to come by.