GUWAHATI: Assam’s Goalpara district administration on Tuesday stirred controversy by sealing the private 'Miya Museum'. The museum was inaugurated just two days ago.
Official sources said the museum was set up at a Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) house at Lakhipur and sealed as per the directions of the district authorities.
An organisation, called Miya Parishad, had inaugurated the museum. The idea behind its establishment was to showcase and preserve the culture of the migrant Muslims. However, it did not go down well as some viewed it as a threat to indigenous culture.
The BJP’s Dibrugarh MLA Prasanta Phukan had requested the state government to bring down the museum while his party colleague and former Hojai legislator Shiladitya Dev called for action against those behind its establishment.
Breaking his silence on Tuesday, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told journalists that the police would probe the museum’s funding. He said the museum was a reflection of the culture and heritage of the Assamese and that all items showcased barring the 'lungi' had been traditionally used by the Assamese.
“They (migrant Muslims) have to prove to the state government with historical backgrounds that only they exclusively used the plough and not the Assamese,” Sarma told journalists.
The CM said those behind the museum’s establishment would have to give an explanation to the government on the items showcased. He indicated legal action would be taken against them.
“We had Miya poetry, then Miya school and now, Miya museum. These are not good signs for the Assamese society,” he said, adding, “I have always spoken about these challenges but many intellectuals criticized me.”
Two years ago, suspended Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed had ruffled quite a few feathers by proposing a museum reflecting the culture and heritage of people living on “char-chaporis” (sandbars) on the premises of Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra in Guwahati. Sarma had outright rejected the idea.
A section of the migrant Muslims in Assam live on the sandbars.
The term “Miya” in Assam refers to a descendant of migrant Bengali Muslims who makes up around one/third of the state’s population.