Tying the knot, couple to show borders are a naught
The family had given refuge to Akbar’s father, Humayun, and his pregnant wife in Amarkot (now Umerkot in Pakistan’s Sindh province) as he fled to the desert region after being defeated by Sher Shah Suri in 1540.
The family stayed back in Pakistan after 1947 and its members are today one of the leading political families in the country with considerable influence in the Hindu-dominated Tharparkar region adjoining Rajasthan.
The bride, Padmini Singh Rathore, is a member of Kanota royal family and a descendant of erstwhile Jaipur state force commander General Amar Singh. Padmini said she was initially skeptical about marrying a Pakistani. “It is an arranged marriage and a girl takes time to acquaint herself with her in-laws and husband,” she said, adding, “I will settle with my husband at Umerkot in Pakistan after I get the visa.”
The Sodha family has long been in matrimonial alliances in Rajasthan as they are the only major Hindu Rajput clan in Pakistan. Rajputs are forbidden from marrying within their clans while majority of Hindus in Pakistan belong to lower castes.
Karni’s father, Hamir Singh, who is a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) politician and is married to an Indian as well, said the wedding wasn’t unusual. “We have marital ties with Rajput families from Rajasthan. There can be now better way to bridge the gulf between the two countries,” said Hamir Singh. Several relatives of Padmini are married into the Sodha family. Karni’s grandfather, Rana Chandra Singh (1931-2009), was a founding member of the PPP and a federal minister.
Hamir, who now heads the Sodha family that owns the famous Umerkot Fort where Akbar was born, called harassment of Hindus in Pakistan overhyped. “We’ve fought for minority rights and governments in Pakistan have shown the desired sensitivity,” he told TOI.