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Assam: Congress MLA demands ‘Miya Museum’ for immigrant Bangladeshis, govt rejects saying they don’t have separate culture

Himanta Biswa Sarma said that there is no separate identity and culture in Char regions of Assam as most of the people had migrated from Bangladesh

Assam health, finance, PWD and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that no Miya Museum will be established at the Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati. Rejecting the demand for the same, the senior minister said that the people living in the char areas (islands in Brahmaputra) in Assam have no separate identity and culture, as they are migrants from Bangladesh.

Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati is a cultural complex situated in Guwahati, which houses several facilities like a museum showcasing Assam’s history and culture, library, an open-air theatre, an Artists’ Village, an art and cultural exhibition, a heritage park etc. Recently, Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed had demanded that Assam govt should establish a Miya Museum inside the complex. The word Miya refers to Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants living in the state. They largely live in the char areas in the states, the sandbars in Brahmaputra river and tributaries.

“I have proposed a museum for the people living on the sandbars of Assam. The museum should be established at Kalakshetra. Since the majority of population of these areas is from so-called Miya community, therefore it should be named as Miya Museum,” Sherman Ali Ahmed had said. The Congress MLA from Baghbar had said that a museum reflecting the culture and heritage of the Miya people living in the Char-Chaporis (Sandbars) of Assam should be set up on the premises of Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra. He had also written to the director of museums of the state government with the demand.

The demand had triggered sharp reaction from ruling BJP and several other organisations, who vehemently opposed it. BJP leader Pabitra Margherita said, “Miya Museum should be established at Rajiv Bhawan and AIUDF office. We warn Congress and AIUDF to stay away from the works and places associated with Srimanta Sankardeva.”

Asserting that the state government has rejected the demand, Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Sunday, “The Assam Government wants to clearly state that no Miya Museum or any other museums will be set up at Sankardeva Kalakshetra. The directorate of museums will not also set up any Miya Museum.”

He also added that the Kalakshetra has been under target by a certain section since the anti-CAA protests last year. He reminded how the gate of the complex was destroyed by the protestors during the violent protests. “Now they are eyeing on the Kalakshetra. There is no question of a museum there reflecting other culture and civilization,” minister Sarma affirmed.

Earlier on Saturday, the minister had tweeted to say that there is no separate identity and culture in Char regions of Assam as most of the people had migrated from Bangladesh.

“Obviously, in Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakhetra, which is the epitome of Assamese culture, we will not allow any distortion. Sorry MLA Sahab”, he had tweeted, posting the letter written by Ahmed to the Director of Museums.

The Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakhetra situated in Panjabari area in the city is the result of the historic Assam Accord signed in 1985. It was established to preserve the culture and heritage of the indigenous people of Assam according to the clause 6 of the accord, including the Satriya Culture propagated by Srimanta Sankardeva.

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