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Voices of Deoli

Voices of Deoli

Some of you recently have asked if I have a blog so that they could get updates of any news in connection with Chinese Indians. So, I decided to do reinstate my blog. Many of you have read my book, “Doing Time with Nehru,” and others have heard me talk about ethnic Chinese living on the border being interned as a result of the India-China Border War of 1962. The war lasted one month but the camp was kept opened for five years. 

While it has been easier to bury those memories and stay silent, after fifty years some of us feel that we are finally able talk about it. Two main reasons that ignited the need to tell our story. First, we have come to the realization that practically no one we have talked to knows that ethnic Chinese were interned. Second, it is the realization that we are the last generation of survivors of the internment camp and we feel that it is our duty to tell our stories so that our descendants, as well as the general public, know what happened. 

Writing my memoir has been very cathartic for me. The process was long, almost four years, because I had to dig deep and retrieve memories I had long ago put away. It has opened up emotions I didn’t know I had buried. When I was done, I became free of the burden I had carried for fifty years, and now I no longer fear of talking about my experiences from a lifetime ago.  I was determined to get my book done on the fiftieth anniversary of the war. 

When it was published, it, all at once, put me in touch with other Chinese Indians as well a ex-internees, and numerous people interested in this subject. Where I once avoided anything to do with my past life in India, I now feel comfortable sharing my experiences. It also feels good to finally be able to talk to others who have had similar bad memories that were locked away. While getting in touch with other Chinese Indians, I was made aware of a web site called AIDCI which was created to give public awareness and also a place for internees to tell their stories.  

In meeting other Chinese Indians I found that many were not interned but also affected traumatically. A few people from both groups have published their own stories. These are in the form of novels and short stories, memoirs, interviews, and articles.

May 12, 2015  — A big story for the Chinese Indians 

A well-known Assamese writer, Rita Chowdhury, launched her books “A Divided Soul” and “Makum” on May 12, 2015 in Delhi. The books are based on the lives and suffering of Assamese Chinese in the aftermath of the ’62 Border War. It’s a heart-wrenching story and she is working on an English translation. Ms Chowdhury has been a real advocate of the Assamese Chinese ever since she heard about their stories more than a decade ago. She invited India’s Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, to the event. He took this opportunity to make an apology of the mistakes made by the Nehru government which inflicted pain and suffering on Chinese Indians for five decades. This was the very first time a government official has said sorry in a public forum and it’s a big step towards a formal apology.

2 Comments to Voices of Deoli:

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