The Telegraph
Thursday , August 22 , 2013
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Sikhs appeal for unity
- Call to Bodos, Karbis to keep Assamese identity intact

Guwahati, Aug. 21: Assamese Sikhs today urged the communities fighting for separate states to eschew their demand and remain a part of the greater Assamese society.

They said they had always felt proud as Assamese Sikhs, a unique identity developed through a long assimilation process initiated by their forefathers who came to Assam at different times, sometimes with religious leaders or as soldiers.

“The mainstream Assamese did not do as much for these communities (like Karbis and Bodos) as they ought to have done. However, contributions of these communities have enriched the Assamese identity, making them also a part of it. We do not accept demands like Karbi Anglong and Bodoland states. We want them to remain a part of the greater Assamese society,” Nanda Singh, a member of Guru Tegbahadur Jatiya Nyash, told reporters here.

The forefathers of the Assamese Sikhs came to the state with Guru Nanak in the 15th century, with Tegh Bahadur in the 16th century, under the leadership of Kumedan Singh between 1791 and 1795 during Danduadroh revolt, to train the Ahom army, as requested by Ahom king Pratap Singha, in the 17th century and to defend Assam from the third Burmese invasion on the request of Ahom king Chandrakanta Singha.

“Our forefathers did not bring women with them. After marrying local women, they settled here and became Assamese to the core. We are proud of it. We do not want to trace the roots and merge with the Punjabis who came to Assam later. We are Assamese and will remain so. Like us, we want the agitating communities to remain a part of Assamese society,” Singh said.

There are around 10,000 Assamese Sikhs in the state, mostly in Nagaon district.

Because of this small population, Singh said, their grievances have gone unheard by the state government.

The community has sent memoranda to the state government at least six times, the latest being last month, seeking a development council for them, reservation of seats at medical and engineering colleges and government jobs for their children and institution of an award in the name of Guru Tegh Bahadur.

It also wants the government to select a representative from the community once the Upper House is constituted in the Assam Assembly.

The Nyash will organise a lecture on August 25 at District Library, Nagaon, where writers Lakhinandan Bora, Homen Borgohain and Nagen Saikia will deliver lectures, highlighting the contributions of Assamese Sikhs to the state and their problems. A book, Asomiya Sikh: Hadiyasokir pora Borkolaloi, will also be published on the occasion.

“Through these respected litterateurs we will take our problems to the people of Assam,” said Singh.

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