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CM urged to take up cause of dispersed Assamese

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Nov 29 - The Work Group for Historically Dispersed Assamese People yesterday submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, highlighting a gamut of issues concerning these people who are living both within and outside the country.

The memorandum, drafted after a detailed discussion held here two months back, urged the government to set up a separate department on the subject of these dispersed people and consider �for due implementation� the workable part of the proposal submitted in this regard by three enthusiasts who had visited Myanmar and Bangladesh to trace out these people and make a documentary on them.

The signatories recalled in the memorandum that the first memorandum on the issues concerning the historically dispersed Assamese people was submitted to the State Government on May 6, 2013, following the visit of the three enthusiasts. Though the then State Government subsequently referred the matter to the Union Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the matter did not proceed further as the State Government did not obtain a political clearance from this Ministry for taking up the matter with the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments.

The memorandum said there are several communities of historically dispersed Assamese people in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and the states of West Bengal, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram.

The historically dispersed Assamese people living in Myanmar can be divided into two broad categories � the first one comprises those who had been sent to this neighbouring country by Ahom kings as retinues of Assamese princesses married off to Myanmarese (then Burmese) kings. The second one comprises the people who had been taken as slaves under inhuman conditions by the Singpho or Kachin mercenaries employed by the Myanmarese army in the 19th century.

Slavery was abolished in Myanmar by the British rulers in 1925 and those taken as slaves by the Singpho mercenaries were freed. About 95 per cent of those slaves had declared themselves as the people of Assam-origin, said the 19 signatories of the memorandum.

The historically dispersed people of Assam-origin living in Bangladesh may be divided into four groups. A large section of these people use the surname �Asom� and they have been practising three religions � Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. The majority of them live in a locality called Assam Basti on the Chittagong Hills Tract.

The three other groups are � the Maanbhaganiya community living in Sylhet, the Hajongs living in Mymensingh, Rangpur and Sylhet, and the Rajbongshis living along the northwestern border and Rangpur district of Bangladesh, the signatories said.

Apart from the above communities, a sizeable number of dispersed Assamese people are living in parts of India and Nepal. Those living within India mostly inhabit the areas that had been parts of undivided Assam. And now they are living in the North Bengal part of West Bengal, besides Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram. The North Bengal part, which had been the heartland of Assamese culture, was appended to West Bengal in the post-Independence era, the memorandum said.

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CM urged to take up cause of dispersed Assamese

GUWAHATI, Nov 29 - The Work Group for Historically Dispersed Assamese People yesterday submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, highlighting a gamut of issues concerning these people who are living both within and outside the country.

The memorandum, drafted after a detailed discussion held here two months back, urged the government to set up a separate department on the subject of these dispersed people and consider �for due implementation� the workable part of the proposal submitted in this regard by three enthusiasts who had visited Myanmar and Bangladesh to trace out these people and make a documentary on them.

The signatories recalled in the memorandum that the first memorandum on the issues concerning the historically dispersed Assamese people was submitted to the State Government on May 6, 2013, following the visit of the three enthusiasts. Though the then State Government subsequently referred the matter to the Union Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the matter did not proceed further as the State Government did not obtain a political clearance from this Ministry for taking up the matter with the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments.

The memorandum said there are several communities of historically dispersed Assamese people in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and the states of West Bengal, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram.

The historically dispersed Assamese people living in Myanmar can be divided into two broad categories � the first one comprises those who had been sent to this neighbouring country by Ahom kings as retinues of Assamese princesses married off to Myanmarese (then Burmese) kings. The second one comprises the people who had been taken as slaves under inhuman conditions by the Singpho or Kachin mercenaries employed by the Myanmarese army in the 19th century.

Slavery was abolished in Myanmar by the British rulers in 1925 and those taken as slaves by the Singpho mercenaries were freed. About 95 per cent of those slaves had declared themselves as the people of Assam-origin, said the 19 signatories of the memorandum.

The historically dispersed people of Assam-origin living in Bangladesh may be divided into four groups. A large section of these people use the surname �Asom� and they have been practising three religions � Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. The majority of them live in a locality called Assam Basti on the Chittagong Hills Tract.

The three other groups are � the Maanbhaganiya community living in Sylhet, the Hajongs living in Mymensingh, Rangpur and Sylhet, and the Rajbongshis living along the northwestern border and Rangpur district of Bangladesh, the signatories said.

Apart from the above communities, a sizeable number of dispersed Assamese people are living in parts of India and Nepal. Those living within India mostly inhabit the areas that had been parts of undivided Assam. And now they are living in the North Bengal part of West Bengal, besides Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram. The North Bengal part, which had been the heartland of Assamese culture, was appended to West Bengal in the post-Independence era, the memorandum said.