There was jubilation among the Manipuris who have been in Assam, Tripura and other Northeastern states for generations, as the Assam government will translate into action the Manipuri language demands. The assurances were given by Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam education and Health Minister during a meeting in Silchar, Assam on September 26.
Arambam Nandababu, vice president of Manipur Language Protection Coordination Committee said, “Manipuri language is not one of the official associate languages in Assam. As such the Manipuri candidates of the Assam Public Service Commission and other recruitment tests conducted by Assam government departments are handicapped.”
The officially recognized associate languages for such tests are Assamese, Bengali and Bodo. Nandababu said that if Manipuri is made an official associate language the Manipuri candidates could write in their mother tongue in the competitive examinations.
The Assam government had recognized Manipuri in the Lower Primary schools in the state in 1956. It is taught at the graduate level under Gauhati university.
Nandababu said that the Assam government had recently started granting ₹5 lakh as annual financial assistance to Assam Manipuri Sahiya Parishad. Besides the Assam government created a corpus fund by sanctioning ₹6 crore for the development of the Manipuri language.
Sarma said that all other demands can be conceded in a matter of days. However he sought some time to look into the demand of inclusion of Manipuri in the list of associate languages of Assam. He said that the Assam government would like to examine the mechanism of such a demand in other states.
The population of the Manipuris in Assam, Tripura, Myanmar and Bangladesh is considerable. Many of them had fled Manipur to dodge the marauding invaders from the bellicose neighbours. Some others were taken as prisoners of war.
In case of Assam a prince had married a princess of Manipur. The Manipur king had decreed mass migration of one or two villages to Assam so that his daughter would not feel insulated due to language barrier.