Surname adoption in Arunachal stirs controversy

Staff Reporter
ITANAGAR, Dec 8: In an unusual development, a person identified as Nizam Ali recently changed his name to Atul Rabha. The change of name was published in this daily as a classified advertisement.
The advertisement, which had been published based on the affidavits signed by Aalo (West Siang) Executive Magistrate K Tikhak in September 2019, has stirred a controversy as the man’s new surname entitles him to obtain scheduled tribe (ST) status in Assam.
Rabha is an ST in Lower Assam, along the boundary with Meghalaya.
Speaking to this daily, Tikhak confirmed that he verified Ali’s affidavits after Ali had produced his Aadhaar card in support.
“He produced his Aadhaar card in support of his claim, and it was certified by an advocate. I have never said that he should be given tribal status. He swore in the affidavit before me, in the presence of the advocate” the EAC said.
On being contacted, Nizam Ali @ Atul Rabha confessed that his late father, Mofiz Ali, was a resident of Masigaon village in Silapathar, in Dhemaji district of Assam. His said his mother remarried, and that his stepfather is a Rabha.
“At the insistence of my siblings from my Rabha father, I adopted the surname and changed my name,” said Ali @ Rabha.