Manipuri is now associate official language

Silchar, Feb 24
The Assam Cabinet on Friday gave its nod to recognise Manipuri as an associate official language in four districts by amending the Assam Official Language Act, 1960.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma informed that the Cabinet has approved the Assam Official Language (Amendment) Bill, 2024, to recognise the Manipuri language in four districts – Cachar, Karimganj, Haila-kandi and Hojai.
Sarma shared the information through a post on X. “In today’s meeting of the Assam Cabinet we took several historic decisions. Include Manipuri as an associate official language in 4 districts.”
The decision taken at a late-night Cabinet meeting was in the interest of protecting, preserving and promoting the cultural, social, and linguistic identity and heritage of the Manipuri people living in Assam, Sarma said.
“The Bill seeks to amend the Assam Official Language Act, 1960 by inserting a new Section 5B, which will provide for the recognition of Manipuri language as an Associate Official Language in the four districts,” the Cabinet decision read.
The cabinet also decided to introduce primary education in six tribal languages – Mising, Rabha, Karbi, Tiwa, Deori and Dimasa. CM Sarma said that they are reframing the education structure in line with the provisions of the National Education Policy, 2020, to protect the interests of the tribal communities.
“The decision will benefit students of the tribal communities by enabling them to study their language at the school level,” Sarma said.
Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh praised the Sarma for this decision. Taking to X, he wrote, “Many many thanks Himanta ji for including Manipuri as an associate official language in 4 districts of Assam. Your recognition and trust on the Manipuris is highly appreciated.”
Three of the four districts where Manipuri will be the official associate language are part of the Barak Valley part of Assam, where the majority of the population is Bengali-speaking.
Most of the socio-political organisations in Barak Valley have welcomed the government’s decision. The largest linguistic organisation in Barak Valley, Barak Upatyaka Banga Sahitya O Sanskriti Sammelan has appreciated the state government for this.
However, they have also demanded recognition of Bengali as the state’s associate official language. The general secretary of the organisation, Gautam Prasad Dutta said, “We believe in respectful co-existence and we welcome this step.”
Assam’s second most spoken language is Bengali and according to the 2011 census, 28% of the state’s population speaks the language.
“Considering this, we appealed to the state government to recognise Bengali as the official associate language of the state. We are optimistic that the present government will consider this one day,” Dutta told HT on Saturday.
The Manipuri organisations in Barak Valley are celebrating the announcement by distributing sweets. Many also offered special puja in various temples across the valley.
Chief advisor of the All Assam Manipuri Students’ Union (AAMSU), Kamalakanta Singha, said they have been raising this demand since 1991 and after three decades Assam Government has recognised this.
“We raised this demand in Hailakandi in 1991 for the first time. We kept fighting for this and many other organisations supported us. Finally, we have a reason to celebrate,” he said.
Citing the 2011 census, Singh said that the Manipuri-speaking population is more than 200,000 in the state which has now crossed 300,000. “Manipuris are living in 13 districts in Assam but Cachar, Hailakandi and Hojai have the largest population,” he said. Hindustan Times