A Story of Despair and Possible Hope..
Pramila Das with Rita Chiwdhary at the function; Photo credits: UB photos
NEW DELHI: Yearning to meet her elderly parents who were separated from her when she was six, a Chinese-origin Assamese woman, Leong Linchi alias Pramila Das and many like her have urged the Centre to initiate measures to reunite the broken Chinese families of Assam, who were the main victims of the 1962 India-China war and are still facing its consequences.
Pramila Das, now aged 59 was only six when the police detained her Chinese-origin father Liong Kokhoi, mother Chanu and two brothers and took them from Tinsukia district in Upper Assam to a detention camp at Deoli in Rajasthan just after the 1962 India-China war broke out.
As fate would have it, she was the only one left behind here in India since she was at her grandmother’s house at Borjanbasti, Assam while her entire family was repatriated to China.
And she never saw her parents ever since.
It was only 15 years ago that she started receiving letters from her father from China when she was informed that they are alive were taken to China in a ship along with many Chinese-origin people from India.
Desperate and longing to meet her ailing parents, she, along with writer Rita Chowdhary , has appealed to the Indian government to help her and many other Parmilas and resolve this humanitarian crisis.
Pramila, who was at Guwahati on Tuesday to release the English edition of Makam, a novel by Guwahati-based Rita Choudhury, have also visited New Delhi on May 12 with the writer's help and submitted a memorandum to the Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh seeking help to visit China.
Interacting with media persons at the launch, Das shared her sufferings and brought people to tears.
“During the Sino- Indian War in 1962, I was only six years old. I was at my grandmother’s place when the police detained my parents and took them away to Deoli Internment Camp in Rajasthan where from they were deported to China. I was left alone in Assam,” she recollected .
“I have never seen my parents since then. However, I started receiving letters from them more than a decade back and came to know that they were alive but getting old and ailing”, Das said.
"My parents are longing to see me, but without the government's help, I cannot go”, she painfully added.
Rita Chowdhury, the writer of Makam, said that her journey which she undertook by writing Makam would reach a meaningful destination only when the Indian Chinese who became the victims of war between the two countries are reunited with their families.
“The Sino-Indian war has become a part of history, but the war induced suffering – suffering of partition from their families, depriving them of their legally owned property and deporting them from the land they had considered as motherland and deporting even the Indian citizens (married to Chinese) with their families and the State considering them as non citizen, is still intense in the mind of the people of the community,” she expressed.
Interestingly, the Union Home Minister had also released the English edition of Makam in New Delhi earlier. The book highlights the agony of Chinese people and their descendents living in Assam. Singh had further released ‘The Divided Soul’, a coffee table book, and ‘Wars and Tears’, a documentary, highlighting the plight of Chinese-origin Assamese and their family members.
Hundreds of families of people of Chinese origin were residing in eastern Assam Tinsukia district, particularly in Makun as a part of the Assamese society during the 1960s. They were, however, completely devastated and their lives shattered after the Chinese aggression in 1962 when the then Indian government resorted to mass detention and subsequent deportation of such families suspecting their loyalty to the country.