Cachar district,Assam

Cachar is an administrative district in the state of Assam in India.

Pre-independence period

Cachar was a part of the greater Dimasa Kachari Kingdom which also included the adjoining Hailakandi and Karimganj districts.The Last King of Cachar was Raja Govindrachandradwajanarayana Hasnu. During his period Khaspur was the Capital of Cachar(Kachar). Cachar was another native kingdom that fell victim to the imperialist design of the British. The Kingdom of Cachar was being ruled two rulers having clearly defined areas of control. In the plains (southern portion of Cachar)Govindrachandradwajanarayana Hasnu was the ruling prince. Immediately after his assassination by Gambhir Singh the British annexed it to their dominion in India (1832). Tularam was the ruling chief of the hilly tract (northern portion of Cachar or Dima Hasao). His territories were annexed after he died in 1854. Thus entire Cachar came under the British occupation.While south Cachar was annexed under Robertson,the hilly tract of Cachar came under British occupation when Jenkins was the Commissioner of Assam.

Independence movement and post-independence period

The history of the district includes the active participation and support of its people in the Indian freedom movement. Many leaders, such as Kamini Kumar Chanda, his son Arun Kumar Chanda and Abdul Matlib Mazumdar etc., led the people of the district to fight for the cause. While Chanda was instrumental in garnering support of the Bengali Hindus, Mazumdar was one of the prominent Muslim leaders of Eastern India to oppose the partition of India on communal lines. Mazumdar, along with Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, (who later became the 5th President of India) became the most prominent Muslim opponents to the demand for a separate Muslim state of Pakistan, especially in the eastern part of the country. To counter the rising popularity of Muslim League, he successfully organised the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind movement in Assam. Jamiat was an ally of the Congress having a mass following among the nationalist Muslims. In the very crucial 1946 General Elections, conducted just on the eve of India’s independence, he wrested the Muslim majority Hailakandi seat from the hold of the Muslim League. That victory virtually sealed the hopes and aspirations of the Muslim League to include southern Assam, including Cachar, in Pakistan.

Assam’s Surma Valley (now partly in Bangladesh) had Muslim-majority population. On the eve of partition, hectic activities intensified by the Muslim League as well Congress with the former having an edge. A referendum had been proposed for Sylhet District (now mostly in Bangladesh). Mazumdar along with Basanta Kumar Das (then Home Minister of Assam) travelled throughout the valley organising the Congress and addressing meetings educating the masses about the outcome of partition on the basis of religion. On 20 February 1947, Mazumdar inaugurated a convention – Assam Nationalist Muslim’s Convention at Silchar. There after another big meeting was held at Silchar on 8 June 1947.Both the meetings, which were attended by a large section of Muslims, paid dividend. He was also among the few who were instrumental in retaining the Barak Valley region of Assam, especially Karimganj with India.Mazumdar was the leader of the delegation that pleaded before the Radcliffe Commission that ensured that a part of Sylhet, the present Karimganj district, remains with India.Arun Kumar Chanda did not join Bordoloi cabinet in 1946 but preferred to do social work as a legislator and also to uplift the premier educational institution, G.C. College. Unfortunately soon he died leaving a huge vacuum of an able Bengali Hindu leader with a secular bent of mind.

The entire eastern India was swept by violence just after India’s partition and independence on 15 August 1947. Scores of Hindus had to flee the newly created East Pakistan for India and Muslims fled Assam for East Pakistan. A large number of people lost their lives owing to violence, which resurfaced with more ferocity in 1950. Mazumdar, the only member from the undivided Cachar in the cabinet, along with his cabinet and party colleagues took up the responsibility for the safety of both Hindus and Muslims in Cachar, touring affected areas and arranging camps and rehabilitation for the refugees, organising supplies and security.

In 1960s, Moinul Haque Choudhury, who was a cabinet minister in Assam from 1957 to 1966, became a prominent political figure in the district. In 1971, he became the Industry minister of India under the Prime Ministership of late Indira Gandhi. Late Arun Kr. Chanda’s wife Jyotsna Chanda also represented Silchar in the parliament.

1 July 1983 saw the creation of Karimganj district by curving out the eponymous subdivision from Cachar.This was repeated in 1989 with the creation of Hailakandi district.

Cachar district occupies an area of 3,786 square kilometres (1,462 sq mi), comparatively equivalent to South Georgia.The Barak is the main river of the district and apart from that there are numerous small rivers which flow from Dima Hasao district, Manipur or Mizoram. The district is mostly made up of plains,but there are a number of hills spread across the district. Cachar receives an average annual rainfall of more than 3,000 mm. The climate is Tropical wet with hot and wet summers and cool winters.
The district headquarters, Silchar, is one of the most important business centres of Assam.

In 2006 the Indian government named Cachar one of the country’s 250 most backward districts out of a total of 640.It is one of the eleven districts in Assam currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).