Innocence For The Insensate

A girl hears the news of Mother Teresa’s death on television and rushes to her grandfather, “Who killed Mother Teresa?” Grandpa is quick to assure her that she died of old age. “No, no,” the girl says, “someone must have killed her. How can she die on her own?” Having grown up in strife-torn Assam, the girl was not yet aware that something called ‘natural death’ was also a part and parcel of existence. This real-life example often quoted by H.K. Deka—a Sahitya Akademi award-winning poet who also happens to be the state’s director general of police—is not an isolated case.

Children growing up in Assam in recent years have been brought up on gruesome headlines of militant strikes and counter-attacks by security forces. Two decades of bloodshed brought about by secessionist movements and ethnic clashes have orphaned or traumatised thousands of boys and girls. Deka, shaken by all that he has witnessed in these years, has started a programme to sensitise the Assam police as well as the public to the fragile emotional space inhabited by children in violence-prone areas.