Assam Seals ‘Miya’ Museum Set Up by Migrant Muslims
In a bid to protect migrant Muslims, the Assam government has sealed a museum set up by ‘Miya’ Muslims in Dibrugarh. According to the government, the museum violated the rules and should be closed down. The BJP has pledged to protect ‘bhumiputras’ from illegal immigration.
Miya Muslims are a Bengali Muslim community that originates in present-day Bangladesh. They were brought to India by the British in the late 19th century and settled in Assam. Bengali-origin Muslims are citizens of India, though they have been excluded from some museums in the state because they are viewed as illegal immigrants.
The district administration says that setting up the museum at the PMAY house was a violation of the state law. It also says that the state police have arrested three people who were involved in setting up the museum. They have been arrested on terror charges and are believed to be linked to Ansarullah Bangla Team, a Bangladesh branch of Al Qaeda.
On Sunday, a museum set up by migrant Muslims in Assam was closed. The museum was set up in a house built using PMAY-G funds in Dapkarbhita village. However, the museum contained only traditional items and did not reflect the culture of the Miya community. The district administration is investigating whether funding was obtained from outside sources.
The Assam chief minister has promised to investigate the funds used to set up the museum and who is behind it. He has also threatened to take action against the museum’s management. The closure of the museum follows the closure of three private madrasas in the state in August-September after functionaries were arrested for terror-related activities. It is unclear what the government’s exact motive was for sealing the Miya museum.
The BJP government’s decision to ‘Miya’ migrant Muslims’ museum comes amid a growing fear of ethnic cleansing in the state. Assam’s anti-immigrant sentiments have polarised local politics, and the use of the word ‘Miya’ as a means to exclude minority groups like the Miya has become a common insult.
The Miya museum proposal was originally proposed by Congress leader Sherman Ali Ahmed as early as 2020. He was concerned that the Miyas are not given the recognition they deserve for their contributions to the agriculture sector. However, Congress MLA Wajed Ali Choudhury said the museum was not intended for the Miya community, but rather as an honorific address for a minority group.