Arup Kumar Datta
Arup Kumar Dutta. Image credit - www.revolvy.com

The seed of the current crisis in Assam was laid in the pre-independence period, said renowned writer, columnist and Padma Shri Arup Kumar Dutta.

Dutta said this on Saturday while delivering the 15th Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Annual Lecture at Vivekananda Kendra in Guwahati.

Writer Dutta lamented the growing fissiparous tendencies in the society of Assam and held the ‘elitist’ Assamese middle class partly responsible for it.

He spoke on the topic ‘Assam at a crossroad’ where he dwelled on the historical background of the formation of Assamese national identity well before the advent of Ahoms.

Dutta said the process of the formation of Assamese national identity was “later relegated to a sub-nationalism status during the struggle for India’s independence”.

The lecture was moderated by renowned academic Amarjyoti Choudhury as president of the meeting where an annual award for the best HSLC candidate from Bajali Higher Secondary School was also presented.

It may be mentioned that Brajamohan Sarma passed out his HSLC examination from Bajali HS School.

The award this year was received by Mukut Thakuria who received a trophy, a citation and a cash reward, informed Jayanta Kumar Sarma, trustee of the Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Trust.

Dutta said, “The seed of the current crisis in Assam, wherein the society is fragmented into various identities, were laid much before independence because of the divide-and-rule policies of the British and the manipulation of the Assamese middle class to act as a buffer between the indigenous people and them.”

This, in time, resulted in the various tribal communities – the biggest component of Assamese race – feeling alienated resulting in the Assamese sub-nationalism getting fragmented.

He said an unnecessary confusion on the definition of ‘Assamese’ has precipitated the present crisis in Assamese society.

Dutta also said the way ahead would be to rebuild the Assamese identity again accommodating and amalgamating all indigenous identities into one.

The Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Trust, Guwahati organizes such lecture every year in the memory of late Brajamohan Sarma, former advocate of Gauhati High Court and a flag-bearer of the weaker sections of the society.

He was involved in building public awareness and mobilizing public opinion on contemporary issues concerning the citizens in general and the downtrodden of the society in particular.

The Trust has been organizing the annual event since his demise in 2004.

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