“Joi Aai Axom” and the Assamese Identity

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“Joi Aai Axom” and the Assamese Identity

Sidharth Bedi Varma | January 13, 2019 10:23 hrs


As a ‘Punjabi-Hindu’, I have two kinds of key identifiers in me.

At a first glance, I certainly don’t look ‘Assamese’ leaving aside that fact that there is no definition set for looking like an Assamese either by appearance, features, attire or language. But I do know for a fact that I am a better Assamese, a better local, than most.

This is not arrogance, but simply the fact that because of my Punjabi-Hindu identity, my upbringing here in the state, I have always stayed true to my roots. I identify as an Assamese, because I was not competing with anyone; not Bodos, Karbis, Rabhas or other fragments. I was born here, knew I had to work here, make a living and earn my recognition and laurels here. As an ‘ona-Axomiya’ born and brought up in Assam, my connection to this motherland of mine continued to be extremely strong, stronger than most.

Before the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was discussed, Assamese as an identity was extremely fragmented and as the parliamentary debate will die down, the fragmentation will rise up again. Till date, no one has managed to define an Assamese.

Before the CAB, the indigenous people in Assam first identify themselves as Boro, Karbi, Tiwa, Rabha, Koch-Rajbongshi and so on. What adds fuel to fire is the assertion of this fragmented identity. Everyone remembers the debates that were stirred up after the Dokmoka incident – how Karbis were almost alienated from the Assamese society.

And as the CAB gets discussed, a sense of insecurity of being a minority in their own state has gripped the indigenous Assamese people. No bill or NRC exercise will deliver a foolproof solution and no one will ever be able to account for the attachment to this land if a frenzied mob comes after you. All the wailing and suffering will be silenced in an instant.

All I know is that Assam does not deserve these turbulent times. Joi Aai Axom!

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