khabibul_eskerkhanovMr. Khabibul Muzaovich Eskerkhanov was born in 1941 in Ord-Yukhoy village in Shatoy district of the Chechen–Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. On February 23rd 1944 the population of Chechen-Ingush republic has been forcibly displaced to various parts of the Central Asian Soviet republics. Khabibul was three years old at that time. Except of his parents, he also had two brothers, a sister and a grandmother. His father was a lawyer and worked in the prosecution department. Two days before the displacement he was – like the other men from the village – sent away for so called retraining. The other residents could pack only the necessary stuff and after that they have been transported to Grozny. From here they were traveling for about a month in a cattle wagons until they arrived to south west Kazakhstan. The journey was extremely tough; the exiles were exposed to hunger and winter, many of them didn’t survived. The Eskerhhanov family settled down firstly in Kyzylorda town and after their father joined them after about three months, they all moved to Zhambyl town which is on the border with Kyrgyzstan. Their father worked for the local police at the beginning, but he was dismissed soon for he was designated as “entrusted captive”. After that he was working as a head of the canteen; the family was forced to move almost every year. Khabibul attended school in Kyrgyzstan between the years 1947 – 1960. The last years of school he passed through the night school, because he was already working as an electrician. When the Chechen – Ingush republic has been reestablished in 1957, Chechen-Ingushes were allowed to return. However their original homes were occupied by foreigners. The Eskerkhanov family therefore decided not to go back there. They were given the housing in the area of the former collective farm, where they lived until the Second Russian-Chechen war, but they were forced to leave to Ingushetia because their house was looted by the Russian army.

A story from the day of deportation

“We, all of my family members, packed our stuff and gathered in the middle of our village. All the village residents gathered on one place. Huge trucks were standing there. Later on I have found out that those were the American Studebacker cars. We all were seated inside. Those were some kind of the terrain vehicles. The noise from the cars was allover the village. Even the animals sensed that something was going on. The dogs were howling; cows were mooing, because they were not being milked and fed. The hens were clucking. What an awful sight…”

Hunger during the journey-I

“On the way, people ran out of all supplies they had with them and the starvation began. There were also small children, younger than me (I was three years then), but also older. There was a little stove in the wagon where we used to roast the corn. When a grain fell out of it all the kids ran for it. We used to make soup of the corn, but even that was a subject of the children’s desire, because they each got one spoon only. It happened that the people who died during the journey couldn’t be buried; there was no way to do that. Outside there was a pile of snow at that time. When the train stopped and people wanted to take out the dead body so they could bury the loved one, they couldn’t do it because of the snow; they just left the body lying in the snow drifts. They only covered the body with the snow.”

Hunger during the journey-II

“The starvation was freighting. I was only three years, but even after several years people told me that my little face looked like a face of an eighty years old man, for I had so many bruises from the hunger. People were eating grass, hedgehogs or clover. They were all swollen from eating it. Often people died of starvation, or died of several diseases. But there was no way to bury them. Those, who were still alive, were not strong enough burry their loved ones. Right before our own eyes we could see how the bodies disintegrate.”

A letter to Stalin

“Our father found us after three months and he took us to Zhambyl town. It was one of the cities in Kazakhstan. Our father was a lawyer and very educated man. Therefore he turned to the city administration and he got a job at the local police department. He was receiving the salary; he got an apartment but even then just as we survived. But then few months later an order from Stalin came that the special settlers like us were must not be employed at the service of the Ministry of Internal affairs. Therefore our father wrote a letter addressed directly to him, saying that he wants a job. I remember that Stalin has even sent an answer to him; I remember his red colored signature. He explained in the letter that our father can’t get a job, because of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR bans, because the exiled people are not trustworthy enough. Our father later found himself a job as the head of the canteen.”