Embrace people of Chinese origin

My Press meet on 07th November 2010

In a day at Makum thirty years earlier a group pointed fingers to few Chinese people and told me that those people came to Assam in the Second World War.

But at that time I never knew anything about the Chinese people that were living in Assam; though I thought of writing a book about them. In the process I lost lot of time. If I would have felt the intensity of the subject than the process would not have taken so long. But after that I never heard anything from anybody about them. Even I didn’t saw any Chinese people after that. When I started writing the book it was already late. Most of the people who knew about the migration of Chinese people to Assam already died. That’s why lot of stories remained in darkness about the birth & evolution of Chinese society. The limited research material of that period which I have collected is not enough; as I feel there is lot more of it somewhere. I hope one day some resource person will gather it for necessary compilation.

The Chinese people who lived in Assam faced a terrible onslaught on 1962 Indo-chinese war which came to my notice before 4 years from today. The evolution of tea industry of Assam and the history of migration of tea workers interwoven with unwritten saga of Chinese society became my subject matter with which I started my work. Unfortunately, before I could find any of Assam born Chinese survivors, mostly left this world. They left carrying with them lot of pain, frustration and tears in their hearts. Those young boys and girls of Indo-chinese war were than old.

People living in different parts of the world kept deep in their heart some dry memories of Indo-chinese war and its traumatic post war effect. The people whom I approached reacted in a surprising manner when they heard the reason of my research. They find it hard to belief and give an undefined look to me. The most essential and primary work for me is to win their trust and collect the necessary information. Fortunately, I am successful in winning their faith and as a result they burst out loud with that information that remained hidden for a period of long years. As they spoke; sometimes they erupted in frustration, sometimes they whip off their tears, and sometimes they get excited recollecting those days of the past. In conversation with most of them I felt the significant expression of love and longing for their birth place. They all gave me in my hands lot of important materials, few rare photos and documents. In the last four years I carried out my research through few books, articles together with Assam archive and from the library of cotton college, library of assam bidhan sabha where from necessary information are collected in the form of magazines, newspaper, srimitigontha, gazet, various reports and letters. Even from internet and resource person on various subjects helped me in collecting different information. On the basis of this research material the storyline of this novel developed. In the process of converting a prolonged time of history which comprised of the life and living of various people I took the help of some amount of imagination but the main plot and subplots remained realistic in its happening. There is no sign of any kind of exaggeration.

To write the novel I have to study various books published on the subject of Indo-chinese war but still the main storyline is constructed on the basis of news material published in that period through newspaper and ALL INDIA RADIO.

In the process of completing this herculean task there may be lot of mistakes for which I beg for forgiveness. To keep up the historic reality intact sometimes I used some unexpected words that may hurt some people for which I beg for forgiveness from those persons concern. I am extremely sorry for those who convey some tragic and emotional happenings of their life but could not be included in my book.

Most of the characters in the novel are true. To portray the social infrastructure of that period certain characters are created. In some characters their names and their location are real but most of the characters are introduced fictitiously. In some cases though real name is used yet its residence and location were fictitiously interpreted. Those characters that are alive till now still carried within their heart the utmost desire to see the place where they passed their childhood and adolescent days. Still they want to come and meet their friends and relatives left hear. Not only those characters but each and every individual whom I met disclosed the urge to come to their birthplace at least once before they die. Even the new generation also wants to come and see the birthplace of their parents and grandparents. Few of them sometime come to Assam. They keep on searching their relatives with dollar, gifts and pack of sweets in their hands. They keep with them their passport, visa whatever as a legal document but still an unexplainable fear crept within themselves. Perhaps the memories of war-ridden days become fertile in their minds. Before clearing the boarding inside the airport, they have to overcome various suspicious look of the security officials and give all sort of frustrating answers to their questions. Sometimes some security officials showing their power keep from them dollars, money, gifts etc which they bring for their relatives.

In the process of highlighting those brutal days of history I could not give them the happy moments of the past nor could I give them their lost relatives. Even I could not erase the pathetic and brutal incidents from their minds. My only aim is to illuminate the unfortunate history that lived in darkness for years. I hope that such pathetic days should not prevail anywhere in the future. Tomorrow again war may be declared between India and China. Again the same situation of 1962 may be repeated. If everyone knows the history than many Chinese who were still living silently in various parts of Assam cannot be deported for being Chinese snatching their property, mother, wife, baby and other relatives. From the people and the media they are assured for justice and security.

click here for Press Release (in Assamese)

I have received an email from Harry Shaw <hshaw@rogers.com> Date: Sat, Aug 21, 2010 at 12:14 AM Subject: Letter to Indian Prime Minister Dear Ms Chowdhury On behalf of the Association of India Deoli Camp Survivors (1962), I would like to forward you a copy of our letter to the Prime Minister of India, dated August 19, 2010. We are requesting the erection of a monument at the former Deoli Internment Camp site, as an acknowledgement of the persecution of ethnic Chinese after the Indo-China border war of 1962. Attached is a scanned copy of the letter (pg. 1 & 2). In the past, you have written and published works on the subject of the ethnic Chinese community in India. Your latest book “MAKAM, A painful story of the Chinese Assamese across Assam” has become a household word among the Indian Chinese communities in India, Hong Kong and North America. As survivors of the Deoli camp, we thank you for your tireless efforts in reporting the truth and in raising awareness of the suffering and tragic plight of the Chinese during and after the 1962 war. We have silently waited for almost half a century for the government of India and its political leaders to bring this shameful chapter in modern post-independence India to a close. We hope that the government of India will do the honourable thing and approve our reasonable request. We would greatly appreciate any support you may give to our association, as we believe our request would be much advanced with your help. Hope to keep mutually informed. Regards, Harry Shaw Gen. Secretary Association of India Deoli Camp Internees (1962)

Copy of the letter to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.

Copy of the letter received from ASSAMESE CHINESE SOCIETY:

Full content of the email received from Mr. Paul Chung <paulhf.chung@gmail.com>

From: Paul Chung <paulhf.chung@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 14:02:19 +0530
Subject: Thank you for your concern.
To: Rieeta Choudhury Author <reetachowdhury@gmail.com>

Dear Ms. Reeta,
Let me on behalf of the Chinese community of Kolkata congratulate you
for your book on the Chinese at Makum. It has brought a ray of hope
on the horizon in the lives of those who had suffered since 1962. To
us it may lead to the healing process which is long over due, and open
the door for the Chinese Indian to take their proper place in this
land of our birth.
We are the people who are well known for our realistic commitment.
while so in the process of our living in this land of our birth we
somehow are bound by the fear of 1962,which lead to a sense of
insecurity instead of belonging which make us secure and thus
enhance our commitment toward the land of our birth.
We do not wish to be half hearted in our work, and are willing to look
realistically at the past. We therefore, are with you in your effort
to do something that will be good the Chinese Indian not of Assam
alone , but whole of India..
Thank you again for your concern and we assure you of our support.
Yours in the effort of becoming more abiding Indian citizen,
Paul Chung. President of Indian Chinese Association for Culture,
Welfare and Development.