An open letter to Editors of NDTV: Assamese-speaking people are not the only rightful residents of Assam

By Mustafa Barbhuiya for

Dear Editors of NDTV,

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I express my deep concerns regarding the kind of generalised comments and commentary on Assam population that I have witnessed on your channel and this is especially disappointing since this comes from people whom I have held in high regard for their work in the Indian media.

No wonder, people from Assam have written strong rebuttals to such false and polarising claims. Please read articles like this one on Hoot, or this one on Newslaundry, or this one on Caravan to see how wrong you were. As a Sylheti Muslim from Hailakandi, I ask you to ensure that next time, before you label an entire section of the population as migrants, please show some sensitivity, if not responsibility. Your ignorance is highly appreciated (provided your arrogance allows you to accept it).

Prannoy Roy classifies all Muslims in Assam as migrants and Ahoms as Assamese but the earliest Muslim settlers came before the Ahoms did. The editors at NDTV would have helped themselves if they had done some kind of research done before making such irresponsible comments over a sensitive issue in Assam. The discussions on Assam elections showed how little Prannoy Roy, Shekhar Gupta and Dorab Sopariwala know of the state.

On a different note, two Muslim boys were lynched by a mob in Manipur last week; there has been more mob violence in Jiribam, Manipur in the name of uprooting illegal migrants (They are mostly Bengali-speaking Muslim daily wage workers from neighboring districts of Assam- Cachar, Karimganj and Hailkandi). It’s a form of racial violence against a group of people who look different from the local.

So when Roy and Gupta blatantly label Muslims in Assam as migrants (which implies Bangladeshi) and thereby, that Muslims in NE are all migrants with the most in Assam, one has to see the negative impact of such generalisation on the Muslim across North-east India. It was only a year ago that a mob lynched one person in Nagaland a year back having labeled him as a Bangladeshi Migrant, even though his brother and father served in the Indian Army. Your own website,, did a story on this. In case this does not help, maybe you can consider reading this too.

Your act of carelessness, masquerading as information, has done a great disservice to the cause of democracy in Assam. I hope that the next time you talk about Assam, you care to look beyond languages and religion to understand, and analyse, the situation in Assam.

The author is a Postdoctoral-Research Scientist in Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA. He is a native of Hailaknadi district of Assam