Assam’s Goalpara district administration on Tuesday sealed a ‘Miya museum’ that allegedly violated land and property laws. According to the authorities, the ‘museum’ was built inside a house that was constructed using Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) funds.
The museum was inaugurated on October 23 in Dapkarbhita village.
Speaking about the ‘museum’, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said: “I don’t understand what kind of museum is this. The plough which they have placed in the museum is used by Assamese people, even the items used for catching fish are also from the Assamese community. What’s new about it? Everything kept there belong to Assamese people except for ‘lungi’. They must prove that the nangol (plough) is used only by Miya people and not others. Otherwise, a case will be registered.”
“The museum in question only has traditional items which reflect the culture of Assamese society as a whole and not that of Miya community”, Sarma said.
He further added, “The intellectuals of the state must think about it. They called me communal when I raised my voice against Miya’s poetry. Now Miya poetry, Miya school, and Miya Museum are here…The govt will take action on the matter after the office opens.”
Sarma has stated that the funding for the so-called museum will be investigated.
Miya, or No-Asamiya (neo-Assamese), is a term often used to denote migrant Muslims from Bangladesh. Their forefathers migrated from areas like Mymensingh, Rangpur and Rajshahi Divisions in present-day Bangladesh during British rule and settled in the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam.
Earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs in the state had sought action against those who opened the museum that claimed to showcase the “culture of migrant Muslims” in the district.
BJP MLA Prasanta Phukan of Dibrugarh was among the first to raise his voice against the museum. He said, “I request the State government to bring down this museum.” Firmer BJP MLA Shiladitya Dev also sought strict action against those who set up the museum.
As per reports, the term ‘Miya’ is used for the Muslims who migrated from Bengal and settled in Assam in the late 1890s. The British had bought them allegedly for commercial farming. There have been attempts by community academics, professionals and writers to reclaim the word as a synonym of ‘sir’ or ‘gentleman’.
CM Sarma rejected a proposal for a Miya museum in 2020
Notably, in 2020, Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed proposed for a Miya Museum to be set up in Guwahati’s Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra. At that time, CM Sarma had rejected the proposal.