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Assam Stops for More Than Tea?

Many of the indigenous groups in the North Cachar Hills in the state of Assam, India are upset over plans to rename the district as Dima Hasao. The groups of Kukis, Zeme Nagas, Hmar tribals and Khasis, who together have formed the Indigenous People’s Forum have complained that the renaming will favour the Dimasa tribe. Both represent roughly 40% of the local population.

Proving that history is always relevant to politics, they have pointed out that apart from a short 10 year period between 1605 and 1706, the North Cachar Hills have never been ruled by the Dimasas. So why the new name? A local Dimasa representative countered that the renaming would be meaningless unless it was ‘uniformly applied to all the Dimasa populated habitats in the state’.

Unfortunately the non-Dimasa tribes have promised to ‘plunge into an agitation’ if the decision isn’t reviewed. Whether ‘agitation’ means just needing

a frank exchange then a cup of tea and a biscuit to calm down, or actually trying to start a fully fledged civil war, has not yet been determined…

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