In what can be a classical case of a foe turning into a friend, a septuagenarian former Chinese army soldier, who had spent years in Indian jails, says his heart now beats only for India.
Div Shiv Yung alias Gautam Janbandhu, 75, was captured from Sikkim for trespassing and handed over to the security forces in 1961, ahead of the Sino-Indian war of 1962.
After his arrest, Yung was lodged in various Indian jails for nine years, where he was allegedly tortured, which forced him to even contemplate suicide once. But he has left behind all those bitter memories and made a fresh beginning.
The healing process started soon after he was released and rehabilitated in Tirodi, a non-descript town in Madhya Pradesh, Yung recalled. In 1972 he married a local girl Seven Bai and since then there is no looking back.
“I am a person of Chinese origin. But my connection with China ends there. India is my home now and my heart beats for this country,” Yung said in fluent Hindi.
His life revolves around his family comprising Indian wife, two sons Sunil (41) and Dev Kumar (39) and grandchildren. His wife owns a small grocery shop, earnings from which largely fund the family needs. Besides, one of his sons Dev Kumar, who is a government school teacher, supplements the family income.
‘I have no desire to go back to China’
Yung said he had no desire to go back to China. “I have no one left in China. My only sibling, an elder sister, is untraceable since the demise of my parents a few years ago.”
Though he has no personal desire to visit the place of his birth, Yung appealed to the government to allow his compatriot Wang Qi alias Raj Bahadur to travel to China to meet his five siblings.
The Hindustan Times reported on September 24 how 77-year-old Qi was desperately trying to visit his native place at least once to see his siblings. But his wish is yet to materialise, because of “procedural lapses.”
Qi was issued a Chinese passport in 2013. However, due to the absence of any “documentary proof” of his valid stay in India since 1969, his plea to visit China has been turned down.
‘Allow my compatriot staying in other part of Tirodi to travel to China’
“I don’t wish to travel to China anymore, but my compatriot Wang Chi staying in other part of Tirodi, desperately wants to travel to China for meeting his five siblings. I pray for him and wish that the Narendra Modi government allows him to travel to China soon,” Yung said.
A distance of barely one kilometer separates these two former Chinese prisoners of war. The two meet at least once every fortnight. During their meeting, they converse not in Chinese, but in Hindi.
“My father no longer remembers Chinese, but he can speak in Hindi with élan. He, therefore, uses Hindi to connect with his compatriot,” said Yung’s younger son Dev Kumar.
The two Chinese nationals were not given Indian citizenship, though all other members of their families are Indian by birth. Naturally, they are also denied benefits of government’s welfare schemes meant for Indian citizens.
“I request the Indian government to give my father old age pension and a piece of land to support our family. He used to get Rs 100 as monthly pension from 1970 to 1976. But since then, he did not receive any aid,” said Kumar.