Himanta Biswa Sarma said Kapil Sibal was wrong about Myanmar's history
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has hit back at lawyer Kapil Sibal for saying Assam was part of Myanmar during a hearing in the Supreme Court.
Mr Sibal reportedly made the comment on Wednesday during a hearing on petitions challenging the validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
"Those who have no knowledge of Assam's history should not speak. Assam was never a part of Myanmar. There were clashes for a brief period. That was the only relation. Otherwise, I have not seen any data which stated that Assam was a part of Myanmar," Mr Sarma told reporters.
The war of words between Mr Sarma, known as the BJP's strategist for the northeast, and Mr Sibal, a Rajya Sabha MP who left the Congress in May 2022, also comes amid the crisis in Manipur where the issue of illegal immigrants from Myanmar is a huge factor in the violence.
Many leaders including Home Minister Amit Shah and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar have said entry of illegal immigrants is also one of the main factors behind the unrest in the northeast state.
During the Supreme Court proceedings on Wednesday, Mr Sibal had said no migration can ever be mapped.
"And if you look at the history of Assam, you will realise that it is impossible to figure out who came when. Assam originally was a part of Myanmar. And it was way back in 1824 after the British conquered a part of the territory that a treaty was entered into by which Assam was handed over to the British," Mr Sibal said.
"You can imagine the kind of movements of people that must have taken place in the context of the then British empire. And if you jump to 1905, you have the partition of Bengal," said Mr Sibal, who is also the lawyer of some members of the Kuki tribes in Manipur, following the hill-majority Kukis' ethnic clashes with the valley-majority Meiteis.
Any mention of Myanmar in sensitive public discourse has turned extremely emotive after what happened in Manipur. The Kuki tribes, who share kinship ties with tribes in Myanmar's Chin State and Mizoram, want a separate administration carved out of Manipur. Neighbouring state Mizoram, too, has been backing the demands of the Kukis in Manipur.
Mizoram's new Chief Minister Lalduhoma on Wednesday said he will meet Mr Shah and Mr Jaishankar in Delhi soon to discuss the issues of refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh, and displaced Kuki tribes from Manipur who have taken shelter in Mizoram.
During campaigning on November 4, Lalduhoma told NDTV it is their "dream" to see all Mizo people under a single administrative unit. "As the saying goes, blood is thicker than water. The people from Manipur as well as Myanmar, they are our kith and kin, our flesh and blood. They are our brothers and sisters. We can't betray them when they are in a difficult situation... And regarding Zo unification or Greater Mizoram, whatever you call it, we all are behind this. It is the dream of the Mizos that a day will come when all the Mizo people divided due to the British's policy of divide and rule will be under a single administrative unit. That day will come one day. This is our dream. We are looking forward. This is not a private property of the MNF alone. It is a dream of all the Mizos."
Mizoram has taken in over 35,000 refugees from the junta-ruled Myanmar, where the military forces are fighting ethnic insurgent groups and pro-democracy rebels.