Of language and ‘Assamese Nationalists’
I belong to the Mising tribe of Assam. Our language is in the ‘Definitely Endangered’ list. Recently the Home Minister of India, Amit Shah created quite an uproar when he hinted on one nation-one language. , highlighting that Hindi should be the connecting language in India. My tribe, the Misings, second largest tribal community in Assam, in the north eastern state has been battling to preserve its language. While I am against #HindiImposition I am equally wary of the ‘Assamese Nationalist’, especially those who expect everyone in Assam to know Assamese. The Assamese nationalist, celebrates the historical icons of Assam (mostly belonging to Ahom and other Assamese kingdoms, while conveniently erasing the history of the tribes.
They will shout from rooftops that Hindi language kills indigenous languages but will conveniently ignore the consequences of Assamese language imposition. My tribe has been demanding for Introduction of Mising language at primary levels in Mising dominated areas. The Assamese nationalist will never support this movement. They are also the ones who file PILs and court cases against the flood displaced misings when they settle in govt ‘protected lands’. Coz bird and animals are more important. I have written about how Misings were forcefully evicted from hills outside the Guwahati city in Assam here
They will talk about protection of culture and language but will take out demonstrations, and call bandhs against the 6th schedule movement of the Misings ! The sixth grants territorial protection to indigenous people in Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram. The Misings have been demanding for protection under 6th schedule since decades, only to be faced by strong opposition from the other Assamese communities.
Moreover, they will expect everyone to celebrate Bihu but will not support the demand for a dedicated holiday on Ali aye Ligang!. Ali-Aye-ligang is a restricted holiday in Assam implemented only in Misings dominated areas. So most of the Misings who are in non-rising majority states actually cannot celebrate the new year of the community itself.
So to me, all those Assamese folks who oppose #HindiImposition but not support the movement in protecting the language, culture and land of the tribes; and if their definition of Assamese do not include the diverse group of tribes, then they are just a hypocrite.
(More to follow- this will soon become an academic article)