Padma Shri Arup Kumar Dutta held the elitist Assamese middle class partly responsible for the growing separatist tendencies in Assamese society.
He was delivering the 15th Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Annual Lecture in Guwahati on Saturday.
He spoke on the topic Assam at a Crossroad and dwelled on the historical background of the formation of Assamese National identity.
Arup Kumar Dutta said that Assamese identity was formed much before the advent of Ahoms.
The lecture was moderated by former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Tezpur University Dr Amarjyoti Choudhury.
“The seeds for the current crisis in Assam were laid much before Independence,” Dutta said.
“The society is fragmented into various identities because of the divide-and-rule policies of the British,” he added.
“The manipulation of the Assamese middle class to act as a buffer between the indigenous people and British also catalysed it,” he said further.
“This, in time, resulted in the various tribal communities – the biggest component of Assamese race – feeling alienated,” Dutta added.
“This resulted in the Assamese sub-nationalism getting fragmented,” added the noted author.
“An unnecessary confusion on the definition of Assamese has precipitated the present crisis in Assamese society,” Dutta further said.
“The way ahead would be to rebuild the Assamese identity again accommodating and amalgamating all indigenous identities into one,” he added.
Memorial lecture on late Brajamohan Sarma is organised every year by the Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Trust.
Apart from holding lectures on various issues, the trust also awards the best HSLC candidate from Bajali Higher Secondary School.
This year the award was received by Mukut Thakuria.
He received a trophy, a citation and a cash reward.
Late Brajamohan Sarma was also a student of Bajali Higher Secondary School.
A former advocate of Gauhati High Court, late Sarma was a flag bearer of the weaker sections of the society.