Assam ‘Miya’ museum proposal draws sharp criticism



A Congress MLA’s proposal to set-up a museum at the Sankaradeva Kalakshetra here reflecting the culture and heritage of the people living in the char-chapori (riverine areas/sandbars) areas of Assam has drawn sharp criticism from several quarters in the state.

Baghbar MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed had, at a standing committee meeting of the Assam Legislative Assembly recently, proposed to the state government to set-up a ‘Miya’ (as the residents of the riverine areas of the state are referred to) museum at the cultural institution.

“I have proposed a museum for the people living in the riverine areas of Assam to be established at Kalakshetra. Since most of the population of these areas is from the so-called Miya community, therefore it should be named as Miya museum,” Ahmed said.

In a letter to the director of museums here earlier this month, the MLA urged the concerned authorities to expedite setting up the museum.

Meanwhile, the ruling BJP in the state has vehemently resented the proposal of the ‘Miya’ museum at the “epitome of Assamese culture.”

Reacting to the MLA’s proposal, senior BJP leader and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “In my understanding, there is no separate identity and culture in char anchal (area) of Assam, as most of the people had migrated from Bangladesh.

Obviously, in Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, which is the epitome of Assamese culture, we will not allow any distortion. Sorry, MLA Sahab.”

“The Assam government hereby makes it clear that no ‘Miya’ museum or any other such museum will be allowed to be set up in Sankaradeva Kalakshetra. No one will establish it, not even the museum director,” Sarma said.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal too had reacted to the proposal saying, “This is obvious that we will continue to work to keep the ideology of Srimanta Sankardev alive with which Kalakshetra was established.”

Named after Vaishnavite guru and reformer Sankardev, the Kalakshetra was set up back in 1990 per Clause VI of the Assam Accord of 1985, to preserve the culture and heritage of the indigenous people of the state, including Satriya culture propagated by Srimanta Sankardeva.

Influential organisations such as the All Assam Students Union besides several indigenous groups have countered the proposal as unacceptable while Vaishnavite satradhikars expressed resentment against the Congress legislator for “disrespecting” Srimanta Sankardev.

“The MLA has come up with such a proposal only to get votes. What has he done for the people living in the riverine areas so far?” AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath asked.


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