Thursday, March 13, 2008
Read the signed editorial " Say Sorry " of today's (13/03/2008) The Times Of India or surf online at http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Daily/skins/TOI/navigator.asp?Daily=TOIKM&login=default&AW=1205393780359 or read the same below :
S N M Abdi
As New Delhi and Beijing come closer, it is time we apologised to the ethnic Chinese in India who got such a raw deal after the 1962 war. Beaten hollow in the Himalayas, the government unleashed a reign of terror against them that is comparable to the persecution of ethnic Japanese in America after the Pearl Harbour attack. Kolkata witnessed the worst crackdown because it had India’s biggest Chinatown, Tangra, with about 50,000 residents. Labelled China’s spies, a charge never proven, the diaspora was hounded and battered. Thousands were pushed into China under the cover of darkness. There were midnight arrests, assets were seized, bank accounts were frozen and properties auctioned by the government. Work permits were introduced to snatch their jobs. An estimated 3,000 Chinese were packed off to Rajasthan to live in police camps. State-sponsored persecution triggered immigration to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada and Australia. By 1981, Tangra’s population had shrunk to 10,500. Now it has dwindled to 3,000 and is still falling.
Paul Chung, president of the Indian Chinese Association, says that time has not healed the community’s wounds. He explains that unless India acknowledges that the Chinese were targeted and tortured, there cannot be any healing. India should of its own volition apologise to the Chinese. But Kolkata’s residents should go one step further to live up to their self-perception of being cosmopolitan and tolerant. What better way to end a sorry chapter than for the city mayor to host a reception for leading members of the community still around? Among those honouring the Chinese can be Jyoti Basu, who was branded a Chinese agent in 1962 and jailed. It didn’t really matter as he became the longest-serving chief minister and would have become prime minister if his party had not played spoilsport. Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, who tries to live up to his famous surname, should invite the Chinese to his Independence Day high tea in Raj Bhawan. Fortunately there is now a strong civil society movement in Kolkata that is unlikely to allow such state-perpetrated atrocities to occur unopposed. It protested Rizwanur Rahman’s death and the Singur and Nandigram incidents and forced the book fair to shift venue on environmental grounds. The city must never forget that eternal vigilance is the price of cosmopolitan civility.
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