29 November, 2020

How To Stay Silent In Chinese

Assam’s Chinese can’t live down the dread of ’62: segregation, deportation, the loss of home

Sandipan Chatterjee
How To Stay Silent In Chinese

The China Link

  • Chinese labourers brought to northeastern India by the British in early 19th century to work in tea gardens 
  • They were concentrated in Makum, Shillong and Tezpur
  • Over 2,000 arrested after the ’62 Chinese aggression, ostensibly “to be protected”, but actually to be monitored, at Deoli, Rajasthan
  • More than half of them sent to China; some families split up. No apology ever rendered.


It’s a chilly November morning in Makum, a small town in upper Assam that takes its name from the Chinese word for ‘meeting point’. At a little roadside shanty, a gaunt, unkempt man with distinctly Mongoloid features, reeking of stale alcohol, is making coffee for customers. When we ask him his name, he darts a dagger glance at us, before going back to tossing hot brew into glass cups. “Why do you want to know my name?” he asks suspiciously. “He doesn’t...



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