India's shame, Chinese living in India were brutally treated in 1962!

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by nimo_cn, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. nimo_cn

    nimo_cn Senior Member Senior Member

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    Wang Shing Tung (in a cap) with his family, the former Chinese school in Makum, the shed in which the Chinese were kept and a house in Chinatown that is now a godown

    During the Sino-Indian war in 1962, hundreds of Chinese in Assam were sent to a detention camp in Rajasthan. Some were packed off to China. Prasun Chaudhuri narrates the dark, untold story of their tribulations

    It takes us a while to find Wang Shu Shin. We go through the narrow alleys of Makum — a little town tucked deep inside upper Assam’s picturesque tea country — in search of the man who, along with hundreds of others, was wronged and disowned by two warring nations. When we finally track him down in Tinsukia, seven kilometres away, he doesn’t talk. Instead, he weeps.

    The 88-year-old Indian Chinese, now terminally ill, has seen a side of India that few want to talk about. Earlier this week, a book called Makam, written by award winning author Rita Choudhury, broke the silence. The Assamese novel deals with the story of 1,500 Indian Chinese who were picked up from Makum and sent to a detention camp in Deoli, Rajasthan, while India and China battled in 1962.

    “Although many of them had been living in Makum for years and were married to local women, they were accused of being Chinese spies,” says Choudhury. “About 1,000 people were forced to leave India.” Most were deported to China, while some made their way to the West.

    Today, there is little to indicate that Makum once had a thriving community of Chinese, who settled down in the area in the 1830s. The ghostly Chinatown —with its desecrated tombs, skeletal remains of a 150-year-old club and dismantled homes — stands witness to the sufferings of the tiny community.

    “They picked up all the Indian Chinese early one morning in November 1962 and packed us in a cowshed,” reminisces Wang Shing Tung, former Makum schoolmaster Wang Shu Shin’s son, who was then seven years old. “The police said they’d jail us for ‘safety’. No one was allowed to carry any money, food, clothes or ornaments.” Fortunes amassed over four generations — the Chinese had come as tea garden workers but some had become successful businessmen — were decimated in a single day.

    It took seven days for them to reach Deoli in a heavily guarded train that didn’t stop at any station, lest the “enemies” should escape. Half-cooked khichdi was served on the way, but some of the elderly Chinese couldn’t take the trauma and died before they reached their destination. Those deported to China found themselves ghettoised as “capitalists” from India.

    “Most of the male members of our extended family were sent to China in three batches,” recalls Ho Ko Men, 72, who ran a motor garage in Makum when he was sent to Deoli. “Luckily, the anti-Chinese paranoia had disappeared when our turn came and we returned.”

    But when they reached Makum, they found that their houses had either been auctioned as “enemy property” or taken over by neighbours. The Wangs’ saw mill had been sealed and its equipment damaged. On top of it, the locals had started treating them as enemies.

    People called them names — ‘Dirty Cheenas, go home’ was a common refrain — and women were harassed on the streets. Shopkeepers would keep them waiting or overcharge them. Chinese businesses were boycotted.

    It’s a chapter in Indian history that has been kept a secret. While a senior home ministry official declines to comment, maintaining that the developments were too far back in history, Jagat Mehta, former director, China, at the external affairs ministry who later went on to become foreign secretary, admits that India may have overreacted. “But we are talking from the benefit of hindsight,” he says.

    “There was a general suspicion against the Chinese though they had been settled in India for a very long time. They were unfortunately caught in the crossfire,” Mehta, 88, says.

    The war left the entire Indian Chinese community vulnerable, but the ones who suffered the most were those who lived in the northeast. In Calcutta, about 500-600 so-called “stateless aliens” of the 50,000-strong Chinese community were sent to Deoli.

    In Assam, no one was spared. Kwai-Yun Li, a Canadian author of Indian Chinese origin, says children were taken out of boarding schools and put on the train to Deoli, separated from their families.

    Some argue that the Assamese Chinese were targeted because they were poorer and less vocal than their counterparts in Calcutta. But the more important reason was that they were from the northeast, which was closer to China. Paul Chung, president of the Indian Chinese Association, points out that the Chinese army was approaching Assam before the war drew to a close.

    Former editor B.G. Verghese points out that Sino-India ties had deteriorated after India gave asylum to the Dalai Lama. “The government panicked and wanted anyone with any Chinese links out of the northeast. It wanted to keep tabs on them.”

    Of course, internment camps for so called enemies were not uncommon. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941, some 1,10,000 Japanese Americans were placed in camps in the United States.

    But incidents such as the American camps were well documented — and found place in several award winning films and books. In 1988, the US government even passed a law apologising for the internment.

    In India, on the other hand, the treatment of the Assamese Chinese was seldom talked about. “The survivors are scared to discuss the trauma, let alone fight for legal redress,” Choudhury says.

    Choudhury, who started researching the subject five years ago, travelled across China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia and the US to interview more than 100 displaced people. In China, she met Mailin Ho, who was 20 years old and pregnant when she was transported to China. Her Assamese husband was sent back to Makum — and Mailin never met him again.

    Mailin, whose ancestors had come to India to escape a famine at the turn of the 19th century, dreams of a last visit to her birthplace.

    But the Makum of her childhood has changed beyond recognition. Most of the houses in the erstwhile Cheenapatutty — or Chinatown — are gone. A stroll through the hamlet reveals the bare structure of the China Club where the Chinese used to play Mahjong on weekends. The Chinese graveyard lies vandalised in a remote corner, with marble plaques covering the graves removed or damaged. The Chinese-medium school turned into a Hindi school after the war, but telltale Chinese characters are still inscribed on the gate.

    Wang Shu Shin returned to Makum with his family in 1966, a year before the camps were wound up. The former inmates remember how they didn’t have enough food during their first week in Deoli. Things improved when the Red Cross came with food packets, though the rice and flour were bug infested. The Chinese, however, were allowed to move around, grow their own vegetables and even sell them to local villagers.

    But the people yearned to return home, which, for most, was Assam. Social scientist and historian Amalendu Guha, the author of Planter Raj to Swaraj, says the Chinese, originally brought in to grow tea, were well paid and had happily settled down in Assam.

    When the inmates returned from the camps, they had to rebuild their lives. Ho Ko Men married an Assamese and opened a new garage in Tinsukia. Wang Shu Shin started a restaurant with his wife and later a hairdressing salon. His two daughters have married out of the community, one to a Bengali and the other to a Gurkha.

    Today, there are about 500 Chinese Assamese in the state. Some 250 people are in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur. Some have given up their Chinese names to ward off local resentment. Many, like Ho Ko Men, speak fluent Assamese. Ho even wears the local dress. The family celebrates Assamese and Chinese festivals, and their food is a mix. A Chinese painting in the typical Assamese middle class living room indicates his roots.

    The Assamese Chinese were well assimilated even in the Sixties, but the government saw them as enemies, detaining them under the Defence of India Act, 1962. Human rights activist Sujato Bhadra describes it as a “draconian” law. The law was repealed in 1968 but the Indian Chinese in Assam never got back their property or any compensation.

    “The problem with our community is that we didn’t represent our case to the government,” regrets Chung.

    Chung now hopes to unite the Indian Chinese scattered across India and abroad. “After all we have a distinct identity in our unique Sino-Indian culture, reflected in our love for Hindi songs and culinary innovations such as chicken Manchurian and chilly chicken,” he says.

    Chinese who were interned in Deoli and later migrated to Canada have formed a group too. A member went to a village in China where some Indian Chinese now live. “He ate at a Hakka-Indian restaurant, visited a home where there was an altar for Krishna, and enjoyed a party where many Chinese wore saris and sang Bollywood or Assamese songs,” says Kwai-Yun Li.

    A few tentative steps were also taken on April 11 when Makum was the centre of discussion at Choudhury’s Guwahati book launch. In the audience was 66-year-old Alan Wang, another Deoli inmate. “My mother and I were released from the camp, but all male members were packed off to China. We never met or spoke again. Hope they are alive, somewhere on the earth.”

    For the Assamese Chinese, though, the dark history is a closed chapter that few want to rake up again. “Let bygones be bygones,” says Ho Ko Men with a deep sigh.
    The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | 7days | India’s shame
     
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  3. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    so is the case of indians in myanmar in world war 2 and the japanese similarly hindus and sikhs during partition .You should not be on the wrong side of the border at the wrong time
     
  4. dr0ne

    dr0ne Regular Member

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    Don't forget the Nipponese living in US after the Pearl Harbor.
     
  5. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    They were just moved to far off places, as the Chinese army was close to reaching Assam. They were not harmed physically or forced into hard- labour or any such inhuman treatment !! Compare this to the numbers and atrocities meted out by the Nazis against the Jews in WW2 and those carried out by the Japanese against the Chinese and other Asian communities during WW2, it simply pales in comparison !!!
     
  6. forigners

    forigners New Member

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    Different People have different mind.
    I am totally agree with you.
     
  7. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    What is guarantee that those people living here were not Chinese spies? anyways Chinese are world famous for spying.
     
  8. Sri

    Sri Regular Member

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    Chinese living in China are being brutally treated in their own country :-(

    [​IMG]
     
  9. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The lady author is attempting to sensationalise so that it sells.

    It was no secret, even in 1962, that the Chinese were being rounded up and interned in Rajasthan. I was in school then and we all knew. However, the exact places from where they were being rounded up was not known in general.

    One has to also understand the environment then prevailing. The Chinese were rolling down to the foothills. Nehru had 'bid farewell' to the people of Assam. There was hardly any faith in the Indian Govt that it can stop the Chinese.

    There was great drives to muster money from the public by various organisations so that the defence materiel could be bought. Women were readily giving away their gold (an unheard action for Indian women and gold was never sold or given away). Such was the mass hysteria.

    In such an environment, these type of activities like internment was not taken too seriously since the national security was tottering!

    While it is indeed unfortunate that the Chinese were interned, yet the body blow to India was just short of raising hysteria!
     
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  11. dove

    dove Regular Member

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    If this is India's shame, China must be half dead with all their shames, unless they are totally shameless. In any case its nice to hear that Chinese care about human rights etc, even if only for other Chinese. Its definitely an improvement on what Mass Murderer Mao and his followers have done so far with power.

    Ray, Do you know why the Chinese withdrew from Tawang and most of the territory they had captured ? India was not in a position to immediately recapture it. Was it potential of US sending a warship ?
     
  12. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    US didnt send any warship....they send us ammunition but it reached after the war was over....

    the main objective of chinese was to teach India a lesson[they did quite well-we havnt loss any war after that !!]....not to capture territory or something...
     
  13. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    This happened in almost every conflict where people were on the wrong side of the border during or shortly-after a war, throughout history.

    Today there's a thriving ethnic-Chinese community in India, who easily dissolve into the crowd as north-easterners.
     
  14. Yatharth Singh

    Yatharth Singh Regular Member

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    I dont know what proud did nimo felt while posting a thread like this separately. This matter could have had been posted in any other thread.

    BTW I dont want to give any justification on this but just want to say that war does not bear any human rights and this type of treatment with the Chinese in India was obvious. If we had followed the human rights moral during the war then the entire war would not have taken place as killing is also against the human rights.

    You speak about brutal treatment but you yourself had posted that most of the Chinese were sent back to their country.Was that a brutal treatment? Is that against the human rights? You and every Chinese must thank god and India too that there didnt took the mass murder of Chinese citizens during that time which could have been easily taken. Yes some were sent to the camps in Rajasthan but give me the proof that all of them were murdered.
     
  15. SATISH

    SATISH DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    If India does the same with China what will the Chinese do? Invite Indians home and treat them for some drinks? Its all fair, people tend to vent out anger.
     
  16. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    anyway in China's major cities there're Indians visible on streets (can't tell apart Sri Lanka or Bengladesh possibly), needless to mention 20K (or 60k?) of South Asian communities in HK .

    even in the inner-most city like Chengdu I had dined at an Indian run restaurant called 'Tandoori' (the food was not to my taste frankly. that's one of reasons I think Indians and Chinese are far far away despite geo closeness). And many 'world-class' hotels like to have Indian (Sikh?) concierges as a 'reminiscence' of colonial times.

    Chairman Mao said that 1962 was intended to earn a 20-year peace. In that sense it was successful. Who wanted to grab NE of India that would have gone beyond the strategic aim and drawn China into a complication?

    when I read Indian talk abt 'human rights', I feel kinda weird.
     
  17. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    @dove

    It is important to note that the Chinese did not withdraw from Aksai Chin and areas in the West. They, however, withdrew from Arunachal.

    The reason is simple.

    In the West, the Chinese could logistically support the invasion as also bring up their artillery since it was a plateau of sorts, but not so in Arunachal, which was thickly forested and had only mule tracks and footpaths. It is not possible to support an invasion force only through porters and mule and it is not possible to bring up artillery on mule tracks and footpaths and trails!

    Unless the artillery supports the areas captured, there is every possibility that such areas will re-captured by those who were evicted, more so, if such areas are in the artillery range of those who are re-capturing.

    Therefore, the best thing that the Chinese could do was act 'magnanimous' and pretend that they have no interest in invasions and only wanted to 'teach a lesson'. It would naturally make them appear as very accommodating and peace-loving and at the same time, bolster their case that they were only trying to occupy what is theirs and what was 'illegally' occupied by India in pursuit of hegemonic ambitions!!
     
  18. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    There are good reasons for Nimo to post a separate thread.

    It highlights the issue.

    For a citizen of a country that perennially and as a custom tramples over individual rights and independent thoughts (as is reported internationally) and which is castigated without remorse by the international comity for such trespasses, it is but exciting a discovery that sometimes in the past, there was prima facie some aberration. Conveniently it is forgotten as to what were the circumstances and precedents.

    Therefore, one may take note but may overlook given the little joy such aberration gives to those who do not have the pleasure and joy of experiencing what is real freedom of thought and speech, no matter how gross it maybe for governance.

    As Patrick Henry said - Give me Liberty or give me Death.

    In the same breath I would say that in hindsight, what happened, should not have happened. However, in war, very odd things do happen. It also happened in Mao's Long March, if one cares to read about the history of the same!
     
  19. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    It is interesting that the Chinese food that we eat in India or abroad is not Chinese. It is 're-mixed' for the local palate and tastes.

    Pork is the basic non vegetarian fare.

    This is what a link states:
    However, it must be remembered that according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates for 2001–2003, 12% of the population of the People’s Republic of China was undernourished.
    FAO]ESS: Statistics Division Home Report retrieved 2008-04 -25


    Chinese food is actually very bland, though healthy since very little of deep frying is involved or use of spices that fire the palate.
     
  20. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Rhetorics like 'illegal occupation' or 'invasion' aside, China didn't intend to stay in the captured S. Tibet (or so called Arunachal) from the very beginning of retaliation according to interviews of veterans in the Sino-Ind war, and declassified files.

    Other than 'logistics' China at that time was already engaged in two-front confrontations
    * blockade and embargo by the West
    * schism with the USSR (in fact Khrushev's taking side with India like the US, was one of many reasons for China to break away from Eastern Bloc in 1960's)

    Therefore China didn't want to be absorbed on an additional front i.e. southward with India. Zhou very frankly wrote Nehru about this fact but Nehru's aim was possibly to push forward and physically control as much as possible so that India might be in a favourable position in later border talks. The target of the war for China was to 'stablize' along the previous actual control line. Pull-back from recovered lands was in line with this strategy (for so-called 20-years of peace).

    Of course GoI and Indians may continue to propagate Aksai Chin... Arunachal ... for self consumption, with thin justification such as lines penned by Brit Raj.

    Back to reality just let it be until someday a better solution arises. Before that, it's better for China and India to stay 'apart'
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2010
  21. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    If I may add, China has been claiming large tracts of Siberia and the Russian Far East. The Russian Far East consists of regions inhabited by Asiatic Russians, such as, but not limited to, Sakha, Buryat Mongols, Tuvenese Mongols, Altai peoples, Ussuri peoples, Kamchatsky peoples, apart from Kyrgyz, Kazakh et al..

    The Chinese managed to get Manchuria from the Russians, thus taking away part of the Trans-Manchurian Railway and forcing them to build an alternative route to Vladivostok. This was under the de facto usage of the Chinese PLA since 1945, albeit, then with Soviet encouragement and later became part of China. Chinese claims in the Russian Far East aggravated Sino-Soviet relations over a period of time culminating in the Sino-Soviet war, especially near the Ussuri river and the City of Khabarovsk. This happened in 1969. The Soviets were very close to nuking China at that point although the souring of relations had already begun much earlier than 1962. This again forced the USSR to embark on the Baikal-Amur Magistral project to have a link to Vladivostok that does not run close to the Chinese frontier.

    The overt Soviet support for India in 1971-72 Bangladesh Liberation War was instrumental in preventing a Chinese intervention.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2010

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