Social Scientist. v 8, no. 91 (Feb 1980) p. 67.

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Muslim emigration to Assam

ASSAM had four ancient lines of contact with Bengal,three oveiland routes and one water. The water route connected the two territories xhrou^h Goalpara via the Jennai river from Jamalpur leading to tlie Pabna river reaching the Ganges. A part of the journey, which required 25 to 30 days to reach Calcutta, covered the Sun-derbans. The first land route connecting Goalpara, Bogra.Rangpur, Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad and Calcutta was the dak (postal) line. The second was via Goalpara, Singimari and Jamalpur to Dacca. The third passed through Gauhati, Ranigaon, Nongkhlow, Mowphlang and Cherra connecting Kamrup, Khasi Hills and Sylhet.1 In ancient times movements through these channels were affecting Assam's ethnic composition rathef slowly.

With the dawn of the medieval ages this type of intercourse was replaced by planned military invasions. The early years of the thirteenth century saw a turning point in its history; Assam faced the Muslim invasions from Bengal as well as the Aliom invasion from the cast. Thus began a fateful reaction between an ancient traditional society of already divergent groups and two more organized and compact peoples with social, economic, political and cultural orders differing completely from one another as also from the prevailing ones. The Ahoms ultimately conquered Assam over which they ruled for more than 600 years. For over four centuries, the Muslims tried to conquer the land but failed. But their knowledge of the region became more intimate over the time in various spheres of life.

The earliest Muslim attempt at a forcible entry into Assam was led in 1205 by Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khaiji from Bengal. Till the advent of the Ahoms in 1228, several Muslim invasions had taken place and affected the district of Kamrup and its adjoining areas. Some of the captive mercenaries and others decided to settle in those places. Therefore, the camp-followers of military corn-

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