Tai Khamtis of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh By:- C.K.Gogoi and J.Borbora.
Tradition Vs Assimilation:
The Tai Khamtis of Assam and
The Khamtis, as one of the oldest immigrants of Assam (1750-1850 A.D.) were originated from an area known as “Khamti Lung” situated near the river Irrawaddy in northern Burma (Dalton 1872; Wilcox 1826). This region interposes between the eastern extreme of present Arunachal Pradesh of the northeast India. In Assam and in Assamese language “Khamti Lung” is called Borkhamti. Captain Wilcox narrated that there were feuds between two groups of Khamtis and as a result, one section of them has moved to Assam, the then Tai Ahom Kingdom. The Tai Ahom Kingdom permitted the Khamtis to move into Assam and to settle on bank of the river Tengapani in 1751. The Ahom king understood that the Khamti were the kith and kin (Pinongkum Tai) and hence allowed to settle within their kingdom.
History says that there were tussles and killings between the Khamtis and the British and the Khamtis and the Ahoms. However, after the fall of the Ahom king, the Khamtis came under the British rule. The British army killed several Khamti chiefs, burnt down villages, captured and punished many leaders to death and damaged paddy fields. These are the talks among many Khamti old people even today. After the Khamti surrendered to the British, the British administration took steps to make the Khamti settled. One group of Khamtis were sent to settle near the bank of the river Sissi in Dhaemaji Distict. Some Khamtis went to Namrup and settled there, a place about 40 kms, away from Lakhimpur. Some Tai Scholars are of the view that these Khamti population, in course of time mingled with Borgohain or Buragohain clans or some have identified themselves as Khamti Gohain (Gogoi 1996 : 80). Another group of Khamti population were also deported by the British rulers towards Sadiya (Sunpara area near foothills of Lohit district of present Arunachal Pradesh). A small section of them settled near the bank of the river Bibru about 10 kms away from present Dibrugarh town. During 1842-43, the British administration allowed some Khamtis to settle in the valley of Tengapani river (Namsoom), Kamlang and Dirak river areas. These population further moved towards east, and at the advice of a Vikkhu, a Buddhist monk, they have constructed a Golden temple (Chong-Kham). In Tai language “Chong” means temple or Buddha vihar and “Kham” means gold. Henceforth this place was known as “Chowkham” or “Chongkham”.
Thus, it is evidenced that the Khamti population, once a dominant ruling and warrior tribe scatteredly settled in various parts of upper Assam districts and inhabitated in the eastern tip of the Brahmaputra valley. They are of Sino-Siamese linguistic group which includes the Ahoms, Khamtis, Khamayangs, Phakial, Aiton and Turungs.