Terrible Memories of Karbi Anglong Massacre Show in Young Faces

From Diphu (Karbi Anglong District, Assam State, India) March 31, 2013: It was a God cursed day of October and the whole of Karbi Anglong was reeling under mayhem and chaos, hundreds of tribal people mostly Karbi and Dimasa lost their lives in the ethnic clash which broke out from the early part of October 2005.

But the worst was yet to come, I woke up listening to a distant phone call from Donkamokum in west Karbi Anglong, the caller informed me that he had just seen numbers of dead bodies of men, women and children including infants dripping wet with blood lying on the road close to village Charchim and Presack.

Telling me to find the details myself, my edgy informer cut the phone dead; the day was 17th October 2005.

The Killing Field of Charchim

That was my initiation to the ghastly climax of the human carnage which later became infamously known as the killing field of Charchim.

Forty two persons were killed by militants who seized two passenger buses and by massacring Charchim and Presack village by members of a particular ethnic outfit.

Miraculously, two human souls were able to escape from the human carnage. John Hansey was merely four years and Ramson Hansey was close to seven years when they lost their parents in the attack, and they did not know the whereabouts of their elder brother Bidya Sing Hansey.

Vicious Dawn Attack

The whole village and the adjoining area was set ablaze by militants who did not even spare the domestic animals and the granary. Within just a few minutes, their father Sarbura Hansey, mother Sangway Teronpi were dead, and the entire village was razed to the ground.

“The miscreants mounted an attack at dawn. Our house was on fire. They shot my mother and then stabbed her several times with a sharp weapon, I ran away to the nearby forest but had to return again as I could hear my four year old kid brother screaming from the clogged house. I rushed inside the burning house amidst roaring fire all-around. The heat of the blaze peeled off our skin flesh. Grabbing John, I scampered outside, and into the forest and moved deep within, for safety. Three days we roamed together without food or water, so far I remember we were rescued by police in the end,” Ramson Hansey, the elder brother told me, recollecting the horrendous past.

Different Circumstances

We met both the brothers today in the residence of Pastor Sing Engti and Mrs. Monica Phangchopi who runs the Priority Mount Johanna School, a residential convent sited in a lush green valley just seven kilometres from Diphu near the Manja township.

“Both John and Ramson were brought here by Monaj Pator, a pharmacist and his wife a year after the incident, who actually adopted the orphans after the incident, but unfortunately he too died in 2006 suffering from cancer. Roton Engti, executive member of Karbi Anglong autonomous council accepted the helpless children and since then he has done everything for them. Under his legal guardianship, they are now studying in this school. Miscreants torched their house with the young one still inside; his brother salvaged him and they wandered for three days in the wild before they were rescued by police. They survived providentially” Pastor Sing Engti recalled.

“Both boys used to get terrified, bringing to mind their horrible past, but now they are okay. You can still see the burn marks on their limbs and abdomen. They are quite happy here. John studies in fourth standard while Ramson is in class six. In this school, we have 250 resident students, our first batch of eleven HSLC candidates have fetched one first division and six second divisions and the rest passed in third division” Monica Phangchopi, wife of the Pastor, who is also a teacher of that school told us.

Becoming Worthy Citizens

Both John and Ramson were busy playing with the other children of the school when we were about to return from the cleric’s residence. After some time, responding to the school bell, they were seen queuing in the dining room cheerfully waiting for the meal like all other ordinary students of the school. The awful memory of the past seemed to have passed from their minds.

“I want them to become worthy citizens of this country, only then I will deem my effort to have been rewarded,” said the compassionate priest, observing the amused children’s cherubic visages.

Sushanta Roy
Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.