GUWAHATI, Aug 25 - The failure of the State government to make its stand clear on the recommendation of the Seventh Assam Pay and Productivity Pay Commission to close the Directorate of Assam Archives has been resented by scholars here.
Scholars here feel that the proposal for the closure of the Directorate of Archives is not in conformity with the spirit of the Assam Accord. If this Directorate is closed, the indigenous peoples of the State will face a serious problem in making right assertions on matters related to the historicity of their existence, they feel.
Renowned historian Prof JN Phukan told this newspaper that if the Directorate of Archives is closed, it will mean obliteration of the past of the State�s indigenous peoples. The State Archives is a very important institution for the people as well as the government of the State. It has been preserving the records relating to almost all spheres of life of the State�s people, particularly those belonging to the colonial period, he said.
Prof Paramita Das, Head of the Department of History, Gauhati University (GU), described the indecision of the State government on the issue as unfortunate. In this respect, she referred to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and urged the State government to develop the Archives Directorate as a full-fledged one. �The future of the State Archives is inseparably linked with not only the preservation of the past records, but also to the future of the indigenous peoples of Assam,� she said.
Beside its collection of around 5,000 maps and 32,000 rare books, the State Archive Directorate, popularly known as the State Archives, has classified documents, dating back to 1774, concerning Assam, West Bengal, East Bengal, Cooch Behar and other parts of the NE region. Among the documents are those relating to the debate on the move to merge Goalpara district with West Bengal, the merger of Cooch Behar with West Bengal, merger of Chittagong Hill Tract and Rangpur Subdivision with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), development of oil and tea industry in the State, major earthquakes that rocked the State, development of railway in this part of the globe, among others.
It may be mentioned that the Directorate had extended support to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) authorities in the recent NRC updating process by providing legacy data of over 600 people who migrated to the districts of Darrang, Nagaon, Kamrup and Sivasagar and also to the Khasi and Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya between 1947 and March 25, 1971.
The Directorate also provided documents for the scholars who prepared the political history of Assam for the period between 1874 and 1947. Now again, it is providing documents and space to the experts who are preparing the political history of the State for the post-independence period (between 1947 and 2012).
It also provided documents and space to the Inter-State Border Committee, which was constituted by the State government on the issues related to the State�s border with its NE neighbours. The committee, headed by noted historian Prof JN Phukan, provided the State government with the historical background of Assam�s borders with its neighbours in the NE region. This helped the Assam government to formulate its official stand on the issue in an unambiguous manner.
It also needs mention here that the Assam State Archives emerged from the erstwhile Record Branch of the General Department, which was created by the colonial British rulers in 1874.