07 May, 2021

Who Is An Assamese? More Questions Than Answers

In the wake of the National Register of Citizens, any exercise to define who is a native can open a Pandora's Box in a state inimical to 'immigrants'

Identity Crisis
Protests against CAA in Assam has been raging for weeks
Photoghraph by Samsul Huda Patgiri
Who Is An Assamese? More Questions Than Answers

Assam Accord, 1985, Clause 6

“Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”

  • There has been no forward movement on implementing Clause 6 because of the question of defining who exactly constitutes the “Assamese people” eligible for safeguards. The government had asked for views/suggestions from people/organisations time to time. Most agree the 1951 NRC should be taken as the cutoff for the definition. In 2019, the Centre set up a committee to look into the issue.


Last month, Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma set the cat among the pigeons when he quoted the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind as claiming that the original inhabitants of the state were Dravidians who were driven out of the state by “Tibeto-Burman people and Mongolian tribes”. The Jamiat’s claim implies that the Ahoms and the...

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