‘Tezpur-1962’: An incident that never found a place in History

The film has won the National Award for the Best Investigative Film and documents about the town that was witness to hundreds of people who had to evacuate due to the fear of foreign invasion.

A sculpture at Tezpur, Assam. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Often referred as the cultural capital of Assam, Tezpur is located on the banks of the Brahmaputra. This place is of utmost importance because during 1962 Sino-India war, this town was witness to hundreds of people who had to evacuate due to the fear of foreign invasion. Samujjal Kashyap, a Guwahati based engineer turned director has tried to catch a glimpse of what they had been through by his documentary “Tezpur-1962”.

On being asked how he decided to make a film on Tezpur, Kashyap said, he came to know about the Youth Emergency Organisation (YEO) that was formed during the evacuation of Tezpur that is approximately 170 kilometres from Guwahati. Even though many believe that everyone left the area, but he came to know that YEO was there to patrol that area. This is how the idea to make a fictional film about YEO struck him. The purpose to make this film was to bring forth the efforts made by YEO that were not recognized and remained untold in the pages of history.

A market at Tezpur. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The town was evacuated because of the wrong assessment by the then centre. Apart from the centre, the Foreign Policy and Forward Policy (which included building of military outposts and patrolling in disputed areas) of Jawaharlal Nehru is to be blamed as well. During that time, the Indian army was not too capable of handling this sort of warfare and during that time, the Chinese troops intruded the area at a lightning speed.

In the documentary, Journalist Mrinal Talukdar said, there is very little information available in the about the incident. The primary reason is that the incident was a disgraceful one, the battle was lost by Indians and that the Government was prepared to take an initiative to bring forth it’s shameful past. Therefore the incident was written about mainly in print but there is hardly any video documentation on it.

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It is a government-sponsored project, so I could not talk about many things. For instance, earlier the Tibetan government collected tax in Dirang. I could not mention that in my documentary. Also, about the McMahon Line, the demarcation was not done properly and the Chinese did not agree on it. I could not mention that either,” Kashyap told to a leading newspaper.

There were many hurdles that Kashyap had to face while shooting the documentary. The Twang roads were in bad condition and due to extreme weather conditions, shooting was difficult. People who were interviewed for the documentary were too old to feature in it as throughout he was concerned about their health. Joshy Joseph, a documentary filmmaker has helped him with the editing, adds Kashyap.

Despite too many hurdles, Kashyap was successful in documenting the incident by giving everyone a taste of these people’s lives. This year, in 2016, the film has won the National Award for the Best Investigative Film.