Assam ‘Miya Museum’ Sealed For Being Housed In PM Scheme Building



The Assam Miya museum has been declared illegal and sealed


A controversy has erupted after the All Assam Miya Parishad inaugurated a Miya museum in Goalpara district last week. The state government has sealed the museum, saying the building is a Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) house and was not allocated to be used as a museum.

The parishad’s chief Mohor Ali and another leader, Abdul Baten, have been detained in connection with a case filed in Nalbari district over their alleged links with an Al Qaeda module. The Assam Police since April have arrested some 40 terror suspects in connection with the Ansarullah Bangla Team, an affiliate of Al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has raised questions on the funding of the so-called museum.


The All Assam Miya Parishad inaugurated the Miya museum in Goalpara district last week

The museum issue is significant since the Bengali-speaking Muslims, who are often accused of being illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, are referred to as “Miya” in Assam in a pejorative way. They comprise 30 per cent of the 3.12 crore population of Assam. In the last assembly election, the BJP’s main campaign was to protect the “bhumiputras” of Assam against illegal immigrants.

The government action today against the controversial Miya museum came after Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma broke his silence over the museum, which was inaugurated on Sunday by the All Assam Miya Parishad.

“From where they got the money to do this [set up museum], the police will investigate. It is time for the Assamese people or people of Indian origin to think. There will be a case in this regard,” Mr Sarma told reporters in Guwahati.


An official seals the Miya museum in Assam

“How come nangol [a tool used to plough land] be exclusive to Miya museum when agriculturists in Sibsagar also use the same to plough their land? These people will have to explain to the expert committee. The tool to keep fish is not exclusive to them. Except lungi (a type of sarong), which is exclusive to them, there is nothing in the museum which they can claim to be theirs,” Mr Sarma said.

“Even the gamosa (scarf) which they displayed there belongs to desi Muslims. These people have even set up a Miya school. One year back when I spoke on this a section of people and intellectuals were accusing me of being communal,” Mr Sarma said.

Mr Sarma had rejected a proposal of former Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed of setting up a Miya Museum in Srimanta Shankardev Kalakshetra in 2020.

The sealing notice outside the museum stated says, “As per Direction of DC Goalpara this is PMAY-G house of Mohar Ali S/o Somesh Ali is hereby sealed unit further order.”

The beneficiary, Mohor Ali, said, he does cultural research in one of the rooms. “The government has any objection and they can seize the items. But I am sad, they have made me homeless. I opened the museum here; the government had allocated me this house as I was in BPL (below poverty line). This is an injustice and I request the Chief Minister to help,” Mr Ali said.

In July 2019, the Assam Police had contacted several social media websites to verify the authenticity of a poem – that alleged Muslims were being targeted – shared by 10 people on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA. Miya poetry is based on the colloquial Miya dialect, which has roots in Bangladesh.


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