Move lacks historical support: researcher

In fact no history will support ‘Asom’ as the original name of the State for the purpose. The word ‘Asom’ is generally used by a section of the Bangla-speaking people and it is frought with the danger to reduce the Oxomias to Asomiyans meaning that they are the Miyan people of ‘Asom.’

These were the observations made by Wahid Saleh, the Assamese aircraft maintenance engineer and IT expert, who has been searching of the original name of the State that is in circulation among the Europeans for centuries. He, however, made it clear that the campaign to retain the English name ‘Assam’ should not be confused as a crusade against the Assamese word ‘Oxom.’

Saleh, originally from Jorhat, is now living in the Netherlands. He was talking to The Assam Tribune here on Wednesday last. Since January 21 he is in the State. It needs mention here that Saleh knows German and Dutch languages besides, Assamese, Bangla, Hindi and English.

He lamented the failure of the State Government to take into confidence all sections of the people while going for effecting a change in the English name of the state as unfortunate.

Knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands (Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau) for his social activities, Saleh was also among the four Indians living abroad who received the Pravasi Bharatiya Community Service Award this year from the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin. He is also on the Boards of Directors of the Europe-India Chamber of Commerce as well as the Netherlands Foundation for Business Process Innovation.

After his retirement as an IT expert, Saleh has been engaging himself in social activities mainly to promote Indian culture in the Netherlands. He has developed an Internet site with more than 3,000 web pages on India-related information and an up-to-date cultural agenda on India-related programmes covering the whole of the Netherlands. The address of the Internet site is— Indiawijzer here stands for guide to India.

He said, the name Assam existed long before the coming of the British to the State. It existed in different forms like Asham, Ascham, Acham and Assam etc. Abul Fazal Allami in his Akbarnama (1542-1605) referred to the king of Assam as the Rajah of Asham. Abd al-Hamid Lahuri in his Padshah-namah (1627-1647) referred to the Brahmaputra as the river flowing from the country of Asham. Alamgir-Namah (1657-1667) of Muhammad Kazim ibn Muhammad Amin referred to Assam as Asham.

Sahabuddin Talash’s work Tarik-I-Mulk-I-Asham and the Adab-I-Alamgiri, written by Shayhkh Abu al-Fath Qabil Han (1662) and compiled by Sayh Muhammad Sadiq of Ambala (1703) also mentioned Assam. The English translation of the Persian chronicle Baharistan-i-Ghaibi of Alauddin Isfahan alias Mirza Nathan and translated by Dr MI Borah, also has the mention of Assam.

A letter by Joan Maertsuyker, Governor General of Dutch Batavia to Mirjumala on August 29, 1663, addressed the Mughal general as the “…Grooten Mogol in Assam.” Grooten here stands for great, said Saleh.

Another Dutch publication Vervarelyke Schip Breuk van ‘t Oostindisch jacht Ter Schelling (Diary of a Dutch Sailor traveling in the ship Ter Schelling, which was wrecked in the Bay of Bengal) referred to Assam and called its people as ‘Assamer.’ Its occupants were forced to join the Army of Mirjumala as soldiers, etc. It was written in 1675, Saleh said.

The book Traveling with Clara on the baby rhino captured in Assam and handed over to the Dutch East India Company, also referred to Assam as ‘Assam’. The Assam rhino arrived at the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands on July 22, 1741. The book was published by the Natuurmuseum, Rotterdam in 1992, said Saleh.

Besides, he said, the maps prepared by the Dutch and Italian cartographers like Joh. Van Leenen and Giovanni Albrizzi around 1662 and 1740 respectively, mentioned Assam as Assam and Acham. French cartographer Rigobert Bonne’s map prepared around 1770 also referred to the State as Acham, said Saleh.

The Assam Tribune (28.01.2007)