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Govt renames Assam state to Asom

Reuters

Posted: Feb 28, 2006 at 1210 hrs IST

The government in Assam has renamed the state Asom, saying Assam was the corrupt version of its original name used by British colonial rulers.

"We have decided to revert back to Asom which was used by the indigenous people instead of Assam, a corrupt version left by the Britishers," state government spokesman Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Tuesday.

Assam was ruled by the indigenous Ahoms for six centuries from 1228. Ahom means "uneven" as the region has many hills.

The original name came from the Ahom dynasty which ruled before the British occupied the state more than 150 years ago and set up tea gardens and oil refineries.

In the past 26 years, thousands of people have died in separatist violence in the state, linked to the rest of India only by a tiny strip of land.

The powerful rebel group, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) -- fighting for independence for the state of 26 million people -- has been writing the spelling of "Assam" as "Asom" since the outfit was formed in 1979.

In the past decade, several Indian cities have been renamed to reflect local cultures, such as Bombay to Mumbai, Madras to Chennai and Calcutta to Kolkata.

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