Fifty nine-year-old Leong Linchi aka Pramila Das – a woman of Chinese origin who belongs to Makum in upper Assam – was separated from her parents in the wake of the Chinese aggression of 1962. Of late she has been able to establish contact with them, now living in China after they were deported over 53 years ago.
“I was in my grandmother’s house when police came and whisked away my parents from Rangagora tea estate along with many other people of Chinese origin. They were first shifted to an internment camp in Deoli in Rajasthan, and from there packed off to China. I was only about six years old then,” recalled the woman.
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Leong alias Pramila, who now lives in Kehung tea estate in Tinsukia district in upper Assam, however, managed to establish contact with her parents about 20 years ago. “They sent me a letter by post. That was around 1990. Since then I have been exchanging letters with them. But they are now growing old. They must be between 80 and 90. I want to desperately see them,” said the woman.
Leong was in Guwahati to release the English version of ‘Makam’, an Assamese novel written by Sahitya Akademi award-winning author Rita Choudhury that for the first time focused on the plight of a small community whose roots were in China, but had become Assamese after having spent at least four generations now since they were brought to Assam by British tea planters.
“Separated from my parents, I have been passing my days with deep pain in my heart. I have never seen my parents since then. However, now that I know that they are alive and are longing to see me, I want to go and see them. They are growing old, and time will not wait for long,” she lamented, tears in her eyes. Leong alias Pramila Das, lives with her husband, a son and a daughter and their families in Kehung.
Interestingly, though her mother was deported along with her father on the pretext of being of Chinese origin, she said her mother was actually a Mizo. “Though my father Leong Kok Hoi was of Chinese origin, my mother was not. She was actually a Lushai (Mizo). But the police and the government took he to be a Chinese just because of her facial appearance,” she said.
Author Rita Choudhury, who last week introduced her to union home minister Rajnath Singh when the latter was releasing the English version of her novel in the national capital, said the home minister listened intently to Leong’s life story. “The home minister has promised to do something. But since time won’t wait, I appeal to the people to come forward to help her with funds so that Leong can travel to China and meet her parents,” Choudhury said.