The Deoliwallahs Why were 3000 Chinese citizens taken prisoner? , matrubhoomi

Whenever there is any war and when there is victory in that war, then there are stories of that war. Stories of his bravery, stories of his martyrdom are heard for many decades. But when there is a defeat in a war, such stories are also buried along with the file containing the reasons for that defeat. There is a similar story which is related to the India-China war of 1962. There is a similar story of 3000 Indian Chinese citizens interned after the 1962 war. During and after the 1962 Sino-Indian War, more than 3000 Chinese prisoners were held at Deoli in Rajasthan’s Tonk district, located 165 km south of the capital Jaipur.

War despite all efforts to maintain friendly relations

The date of 20 October 1962 when the so-called friendship between India and China came to a terrible end with the beginning of the war. India faced the challenge of war when India never got tired of raising the slogan of ‘Hindi, Chini, Bhai Bhai’. India was thrown into the war when it sidelined America and supported China in the Korean War 10 years ago. India had to face the tragedy of war when it did not participate in the peace conference with Japan in 1949 because China was not invited to it. India had to go to war when it was the first non-communist country to recognize China instead of Taiwan. That means, despite all efforts to maintain friendly relations, India had to go into an unwanted war.

Defense of India Act and 3000 citizens of Chinese origin in captivity

The then President of India Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan signed the Defense of India Act and under this any person could be arrested on suspicion of being of origin from an enemy country. In 1942, when Pearl Harbor was attacked in America, about one lakh Japanese living there were taken into custody in this manner. A book named ‘The Deoliwalas: The True Story of the Chinese-Indian Internment’ has also been written on this incident of history. This book is the only book on an important but completely neglected subject that throws light on the history of the Chinese-Indians who were interned in Deoli, Rajasthan after the outbreak of the Sino-Indian War. The author of the book, Dilip D’Souza, tells that there was a war between India and China in 1962. At that time, people of Chinese origin living in India started being looked at with suspicion. Most of these were people who had lived in India for generations and spoke only Indian languages. Yin Marsh was 13 years old when her father was suddenly separated from her. Due to his mother moving to Nepal in search of business, Yin had to single-handedly take care of his elderly grandmother and his eight-year-old brother in Darjeeling. They are surprised as to why the friendly neighboring country never tried to reach out to them when they were going through a lot of struggle here. Marsh was not alone. Eight-year-old Monica Liu and her family were all set in Shillong when police came to arrest them. They understood the signs and were convinced that they would be away for a long time.

Deoli camp built to keep prisoners of war

Deoli Camp was originally built for the British in the 1940s to house prisoners of war. After 1947 and after the 1962 war, the Indian government converted it into a prison. The camp was divided into five parts and surrounded on all sides by watch towers. The entire complex was surrounded with barbed wire. The fact that some camps had individual buildings while others housed ‘prisoners’ in large rooms shows how ill-prepared the government was to detain such large numbers of people. Liu says the families had no idea what was going to happen to them in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius without fans. My family of seven was housed in a small room with one door and window. We used to collect the sacks in which ration came and use them as curtains. We had to soak them in water and hang them outside to keep ourselves cool. He also recalled how most of the deaths that occurred during his stay in the camp for more than five years were mainly due to heat stroke apart from diarrhoea. I had a friend from Assam in the camp itself. We used to play together. One afternoon, someone came running into our room and told us that he was dead. We later learned that he died due to heat.

camel meat was served

Yim Marsh, a prisoner living in Deoli camp, says that I do not think that the staff would have ever had to cook food for thousands of people. Rice and pulses were always undercooked. At one time we were even given camel meat which was hard and rubbery. We assumed that they might have found a dead camel and decided to cook it for us. Joy Ma was among those born in the camp. She tells that we were the last people to leave the camp in July 1967. My parents were not allowed to return to Hasimara and were taken to Kolkata where no resources were given to rebuild their lives. He had to start from scratch. The remaining internees were released from the Rajasthan camp around 1968. But his ordeal was not over yet. Some of the family spent nine months in an Assam jail until Liu wrote a letter to the then Assam Home Minister. After a few days, the government decided to liberate us. They asked us where we wanted to go. My father chose Shillong because we were already living there before the war.

Under compulsion, some prisoners turned to China

Within a few days, China came to know that India had kept people of Chinese origin captive in Deoli. China proposed that it wanted to invite those people to its place. Many prisoners accepted this offer and went to China. Many people did not want to go to China because rumors had spread that there was a drought in China. Many people did not want to go to China because earlier they had opposed the Communist government and supported the Taiwan government.

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