Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Rajbanshi People and the Need to Improve their Political Participation

 

Political participation, as we understand is that all those activities relating to state governance which people carry out, voices they raise, opinions they express and take part in decision making which affect their lives. When, it comes to Rajbanshi group of people (all communities having different surnames but speaking same language - Kamtapuri / Rajbanshi and having same social habits) of North Bengal and adjacent areas of Lower Assam, Northern districts Bihar and neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bangladesh, undoubtedly their political participation does exist, but that can be said to be in subdued form.

Their total population across these contiguously located countries and states is almost two crores (20 million) and, in North Bengal of West Bengal state alone (where they are categorized as scheduled caste (SC) are no less than seventy lakhs (7 million). To save these people from further becoming politically alienated from the mainstream political system, immediate political measures are needed to bring them in the level playing field of political system of the State(s).

Let us now, discuss about the subject mainly concerning North Bengal region in the State of West Bengal; however, the discussion does have bearing on Indian States of Assam, Bihar and neighboring countries of Nepal and Bangladesh where Rajbanshi group of people are the sons of soil and ordinarily reside from time immemorial.   

Hindrances for Political Participation by Rajbanshi Group of People:

i)               Over the years, this community people have got divided into inhabitants of different districts, states and countries and are in disarray due to geo-political reasons. They were the majority population in northern parts of undivided Bengal and undivided Goalpara district (Lower Assam) in Assam till 1947 when India gained independence. At present, Rajbanshi people form the majority rural population in North Bengal. Similarly, in Lower Assam, they (Koch-Rajbongshi as they are now known) form rural majority in few districts. In both these regions, main reason behind their decreasing ratio of population is continuous migration of people from erstwhile East Bengal or East Pakistan which later became Bangladesh in 1971. As such, North Bengal and lower Assam too, became a favourable destination for the refugees to migrate. Rajbanshi people, the indigenous docile and simple people who have been the landowners, welcomed the refugees with open mind. They were unmindful of their future displacement. While compulsion for survival and progress compelled the refugees to struggle for having their political voice and take part in active politics, Rajbanshi people remained aloof from politics and lagged behind in all aspects – social, cultural, linguistic, economic and political.       

ii)             Due to availability of business opportunities, favourable geo-political situation and easy availability of land of Rajbanshi people, this part of the region kept attracting people from Bihar, Northeastern States including Sikkim to migrate and settle in North Bengal. In urban areas, the Rajbanshi people who were once the owners of the lands, most of them got displaced over the years especially from towns and business places. This trend will be disastrous for the community to survive as well as harmful for unity in West Bengal.

iii)           Lack of cohesiveness amongst the different Rajbanshi Group of people such as Rajbanshi Kshatriya, Paliya in North Bengal (SC); Rajbanshi, Sujapuri in Bihar; Koch Rajbongshi in Assam (demanding ST status); Rangpuri, Rajbanshi in northern Bangladesh and, as Rajbanshi in Nepal is the hindrance for them to have   political participation.

iv)            To add to their woes, their mother tongue which was once the lingua franca or the common language for correspondence and communication among number of oriental kingdoms of the northeastern part of Indian subcontinent, has not found its place in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution. However, in West Bengal, it has been granted State recognition recently (in the year 2018) by passing a Bill in the State Assembly but in two different names – Rajbanshi and Kamtapuri. In Nepal, it is given due recognition as Rajbanshi language.

v)             Identity crisis due to paradoxical social status (SC, ST, OBC) which is seen as low status by the Brahmanical society, protesting politics, urban centric politics, are mainly responsible for the Rajbanshi people to face discrimination from the mainstream communities. Although, they form the majority rural population, Rajbanshi people have been made victims of 'Vote Bank' politics and as such they are unable to decide their political fate at their own.

vi)            These people are mostly caste Hindu and followers of ‘Sanatan Dharma’. Converted Rajbanshi to Muslim religion are known as ‘Deshi or Rajbanshi Musalman’ or ‘Nashya Sheikh’. In same language group, there are other indigenous people - Nath, Jogi, Mali, Teli, converted Christians and Buddhists. But, unity amongst themselves is almost absent as far as politics is concerned. Cultural bonding which has long-lasting effect for progress of society is lacking in them. State patronage of their culture remains inadequate.

vii)          Characteristically, Rajbanshi people are religious minded which is good for them but some of their society, especially the rural folks often mix up spirituality, religion and superstition as one and same thing. Modern scientific thoughts and realistic views still keep them at bay. As such, they are being fooled by others including some of their own leaders for both personal and political gains. Some Rajbanshi people do believe that ‘Kaliyug’ is going to end soon and ‘Satyayug’ is in offing and, then their king will again take over the state to rule them. Such unrealistic and superstitious believe in modern times is actually harming them and pulling them backwards while other advanced communities of the society are progressing ahead.

 

How to promote political participation of Rajbanshis

            Urgency of political participation by the Rajbanshi group of people in an effective, cohesive manner is a social requirement for their existence and progress in the society. In this matter, state power has a role to encourage them to develop political participation by this group of people. Being peace loving, docile and simple in nature, do not ensure their social upliftment in a democracy. Showing reluctance in politics is actually pushing them backwards.

Following measures are suggested for improve and promote political participation of Rajbanshi people:

i)              Rajbanshi group of people need to shed their shyness from political system of the country. They may take pride in their historical past (which of course, many are unaware as their history is not generally found in academic curriculum of schools and colleges) but they should not live on the past, instead they should realise the urgency of democratic ethos of the present.

ii)             Although, numerous developmental schemes for the Rajbanshi people in North Bengal formulated by the State government have actually helped these people to overcome the identity crisis. Today, they do give out their identity as Rajbanshi without hesitation but more measures are needed to promote political participation in them. Therefore, it is imperative for those, political leaders and the people at the helms of political power at both State and the Centre to encourage and involve Rajbanshi people in political activities. So that they too have a political voice and role in the political system.

iii)           The literates, academicians, professionals and intellectual group of the Rajbanshi should discuss socio-economic, cultural and political matters among themselves and with the rural populace and encourage them to express their views, political opinion and take part in decision making relating to state governance and their lives.

iv)            Opportunities need to be given to them to have free participation in the political system without fear and favoritism. These people should be involved in state political activities. These people need to be given a say in the State governance after having elected through adult franchise. Eligible Rajbanshi leaders need to be given party posts at all levels.

v)             Suitable Rajbanshi candidates need to be given party tickets to contest elections in all those segments where majority population is Rajbanshi. Delimitation of areas need to be carried out afresh wherever Rajbanshi population forms majority.

Rajbanshi people form the majority rural population in North Bengal. Also, they form the single largest population in numerous parliamentary / assembly constituencies/ Panchayats in North Bengal and neighbouring States, too. As such, they need to have wholehearted political participation and, then only they will be able raise political voice and a say in state governance. We may say, if all these measures are taken in right earnest, then only, famous American President Abraham Lincoln’s famous saying “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth’ will come true. To add, I may say that if the essence of democracy is ‘power to the people’, political participation by the citizens is a necessity for progress of any group of people. This is the urgency and need of the hour for the sanctity, progress and glory of democratic form of governments.

 

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

SIGNIFICANCE OF 28 AUGUST, 1949 ২৮ শে আগস্ট, ১৯৪৯ তারিখের বিশেষতা

Significance of 28th August, 1949

[Excerpts from ‘Koch Rajbanshi Kamtapuri – The Truth Unveiled’ written by Self (Capt. Nalini Ranjan Ray)] 

During the Freedom struggle, Rajbanshis of North Bengal or Koch Rajbanshis Assam took part in all activities under the banner of Indian National Congress. Even the Koch-Rajbanshis of the princely State of Cooch Behar unconditionally (and) actively supported the Congress party in pursuance of freedom. Numerous Koch or Rajbanshi people courted arrest during different stages of the freedom struggle. Most of these people had a blind faith on the Congress Party that spearheaded the freedom struggle. Indian Independence Act, at last was passed in British Parliament on 18th July 1947 and India became a free nation on 15th August 1947. The kingdom of Cooch Behar, which was reduced to a much smaller in size, by a document (Agreement) signed by Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan (with the Dominion of India), ceded it to the Dominion of India on 28th August 1949. Once a formidable kingdom that ever existed in the North East India had to come down to its lowest ebb, like one of the 565 princely states joining free India, administration of Cooch Behar finally got transferred to Govt. of India on 12th September 1949 under a Chief Commissioner. Subjects of the erstwhile Koch king were given all possible of assurances on their overall development and fulfilling their social-economic-political aspirations. Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, then Chief Minister of West Bengal and an influential national (leader of) ruling party Indian National Congress successfully tried his best to merge Cooch Behar into the fold of his state. Under section 290A of Government of India Act, 1935, Cooch Behar was merged with the state of West Bengal as a district within on the 1st January 1950.

 

(কামতাপুরী-রাজবংশী অনুবাদ)

২৮ শে আগস্ট, ১৯৪৯-র বিশেষতা

(‘কোচ রাজবংশী কামতাপুরী – দ্য ট্রুথ আনভেইল্ড’ নামক ক্যাপ্টেন নলিনী রঞ্জন রায় দ্বারা লেখা ইংরেজী বইয়ের থাকিয়া তুলা)

  

স্বাধীনতা সংগ্রামের সময় উত্তরবঙ্গের আরহ আসামের রাজবংশী মানসী গিলা ভারতীয় জাতীয় কংগ্রেসের ব্যানারের নীচে স্বাধীনতা আন্দোলনে ভাগ লিছিল। রাজন্য কোচবিহার রাইজ্যের নাগরিক গিলাও বিনাশর্তে আর উদ্যম সহকারে স্বাধীনতা সংগ্রামে ভাগ ল্যায়। বেশ কিছু কোচ বা রাজবংশী মানসী কারাবাস গ্রহণ করেন। বেশির ভাগ মানসী কংগ্রেস পার্টি যেইটা স্বাধীনতা সংগ্রামের মুখ্য ভূমিকায় ছিল, তার প্রতি সম্পূর্ণ আস্থা রাখে। অবশেষে, ‘ইন্ডিয়া ইন্ডিপেনডেন্স অ্যাক্ট’ ১৯৪৭ ব্রিটিশ পার্লামেন্টত পাস হয় ১৮ ই জুলাই, ১৯৪৭ তারিখে আর ভারত স্বাধীন হয় ১৫ ই আগস্ট, ১৯৪৭। রাজন্য রাইজ্য কোচ বিহার, যেইটা একটা আয়তনে ছোট হয়া গেইছিল, তাকে এক চুক্তি অনুযায়ী মহারাজা জগদদীপেন্দ্র নারায়ণ ২৮ শে আগস্ট, ১৯৪৯-এ ভারতের সঙ্গে ভুক্ত করিয়া দ্যান। এক কালের উত্তরপূর্ব ভারতের এক বিশাল রাইজ্য ছট হয়া অন্যান্য ৫৬৫ রাজন্য রাইজ্যের মত নিজের অস্তিত্ব হারায়া স্বাধীন ভারতের অঙ্গ রাইজ্যত পরিণত হয়। রাইজ্যের শাসন ব্যাবস্থা ১২ই সেপ্টেম্বর, ১৯৪৯ তারিখে ভারতের কেন্দ্রীয় সরকারের চিফ কমিশনারের হাথত হস্তান্তরিত হয়। কোচ রাজার প্রজা গিলাক আশ্বাসন দ্যাওয়া হয় যে অমার প্রগতির জইন্য সামাজিক, অর্থনৈতিক, রাজনৈতিক আশা-আকাঙ্ক্ষা পূর্ণ করা হবে। তত্কালীন পশ্চিম বঙ্গের মুখ্যমন্ত্রী তথা কংগ্রেস পার্টির নামী জাতীয় নেতা ডা. বিধান চন্দ্র রায়, সফলতার সঙ্গে প্রচেষ্টা করেন কোচ বিহারক নিজের রাইজ্যের সঙ্গে যুক্ত করার জইন্য। গভরমেন্ট অফ ইন্ডিয়া অ্যাক্ট, ১৯৩৫ -এর অন্তর্গত ২৯০-এ ধারা অনুযায়ী কোচ বিহার এক জেলা হিসাবে ১ লা জানুয়ারী, ১৯৫০ তারিখে পচিম বঙ্গের সঙ্গে যুক্ত করিয়া দ্যাওয়া হয়।                   

Monday, 27 July 2020

SOCIAL, POLITICAL ISSUES AND ASPIRATIONS OF KAMATA RAJBANSHI SOCIETY IN NORTH BENGAL

Introduction

In an epochal sense, Rajbanshis played a big role in Indian society during mythological period for which testimonies galore in Indian old scriptures; ancient history which was glorious having no doubt about it; medieval period that made entire northeastern oriental states were made to unify with mainland India by ancestors of Koch Rajbanshis; and then, significant contributions by number of oriental/ princely states and fiefdoms the known modern history. Then, of course, their downfall started towards the end of the reign of Koch kings at Cooch Behar which culminated with the merger of the princely state with the dominion of free India in 1949 and downfall has been continuing even today.

History of a large Indian human stream, the Rajbanshi group of communities is hardly taught in schools, colleges – why that’s the million-dollar question in Indian polity today. However, as I perceive, while Indian democracy is maturing today in India and political gimmicks are at their peak, these group of Indian people are awakening and wish no more to remain a camouflaged vote bank in the country, especially in Assam and North Bengal. As it is well said that history repeats itself, these people are going to play a vital role to bring about an epochal change in North Bengal in near future; I have no doubt about it.

 

Historical Background of Rajbanshis

(For the benefit of the readers who missed my earlier write ups on the subject, briefly I would like to narrate certain historical aspects in this paragraph)

Rajbanshis of North Bengal today inherit their origin in ancient kingdoms of Pragjyotishpur-Kamrup, mediaeval kingdoms of Kamatapur and modern Koch Bihar (Cooch Behar) kingdoms of Eastern/Northeastern India. By physiognomy, they belong to mixed breed of three human streams – Mongoloid, Dravidian and Aryan where Mongoloid features are more prominent. The British Administrators during their colonial rule in India, and some historians have opined on this aspect differently, but it should have no controversy that Rajbanshis have mixed blood but most of them have genetic connections prominently with the mongoloid stock. It would not be out of context from the point of the scholars and researchers on history that North Bengal was the confluence of acculturation of all three human streams from time immemorial.

In great epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata, Vedas, Puranas and ancient literature, ancestors of Rajbanshis were mentioned. Lord of Krishna, the supreme Godly power of the Hindu Sanantana Dharma was believed to have descended in the kingdom of Narakasur (Asur was the fashionable appellation name adopted by powerful kings of Pragjyotishpur) to kill him for his misdeeds and torture to womenfolk. After killing him, his son Bhagdatta who sided with Duryodhana during great war of Mahabharata. Ghatotkoch, the son of Hidimba, the princess of a ‘Danaba’ king in the riverine and jungle kingdom in this part of the country, whom the physically most powerful Pandava ‘Bhim’ married during their fourteen years hidden sojourn. Ghatotkoch, with his huge physically built warrior and mystical supernatural power created havoc in the war zone of Kurukshetra and about to annihilate the entire Kaurava army. He had to be killed by no other than the most envious and powerful warrior king Karna by using the best weapon that he especially kept reserved to kill his rival Arjuna. The supreme sacrifice made by Ghatotkoch made the epochal change in the war and ended ultimately in favour of the Pandava. Koch people or its ancient nomenclature ‘Kuvach’ meaning speaking slang language, were the main ancestors of todays’ Rajbanshi people. Even today, a sizable number of Koches who are also known as Cooch, a recognized Tribal people are residing in Garo Hills and Goalpara district of Assam. Those who had come into contact with the Koch and Kamata kings and seen the light of civilization, did happily embraced Hinduism and took the appellations of Rajbanshi identity.  

These people had a distinct geographical identity, culture, language and an empire. It was a big and powerful empire that unified the whole of North East with India. It would be pertinent to mention here that during the great decade long military campaign in sixteenth century (1562 to 1571 AD), great Koch king Nar Narayan aided by his valiant younger brother, Dewan and the Chief Military Commander Shukladhwaja (famed as Chilarai)  with their mighty army comprising unified entire oriental kingdoms i.e. Ahom kingdom, Manipur, Tripura and Jaintia with Bharatvarsha (mainland India). The kingdom never came under complete subjugation of any foreign power including mighty Mughals and the British.  Such an empire with glorious past culminated into a small kingdom named Cooch Behar and finally made to merge as a mere district with West Bengal on 01 January, 1950.

Demographical Position

Rajbanshis are aborigines (sons of soil) and have been historically majority population of a vast region in eastern/northeastern part of India i.e. North Bengal; Purnia, Kishanganj districts of Bihar; Lower Assam districts; parts of Garo Hills of Meghalaya, and neighbouring countries of Nepal (Morang, Jhapa and Sunsari districts), norther Bangladesh and some parts at foothills of Bhutan. Actual population of Rajbanshis residing in North Bengal is estimated to be 70,00,000 (Seventy Lakh). Total Rajbanshi population together with neighbouring countries is estimated to be 2,00,00,000 (Two Crore).

 

Why are they losing grounds after gaining Independence from the British Raj

 

Since the days of partition in 1947, there have been influx of refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and a huge population from across the borders have settled in North Bengal during past seven decades. Illegal intrusion into this region from across the border is still on. Rajbanshis are well known for their hospitality and open-mindedness as they always welcomed the Bengali refugees migrating from erstwhile East Pakistan (East Bengal) that later become Bangladesh, and other people from different Indian States viz. Rajasthani business class, Nepalese, Punjabis, Biharis and other Indian citizens. Lands were given to them at very reasonable or low cost for their settlements. Today, many well-to-do Rajbanshis who gave lands to outsiders have become landless and became laborers going to other States such as Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala for work.

As such, majority tag on Rajbanshis is diminishing day by day. Still, these people are the majority in rural population in North Bengal. For all these years, Rajbanshi people, true to their simple, friendly nature, welcomed all the refugees coming from across the border as well as settlers from other States.

Reasons for the downfall are quite a few some of major ones are as follows:

Poverty and Illiteracy have been the two major factors that made poor Rajbanshis to sell their lands to immigrant people, getting economically poor and losing political rights and inviting social degradation.

Lack of Education: Due to social degradation and economic deprivation, most of well-to-do or the educated Rajbanshi people shy away from disclosing their Rajbanshi identity. Dropouts from schools due to poverty are at the peak among rural Rajbanshis. There is hardly any businessman or an industrialist among them. One can easily find a less educated Rajbanshi left their homeland and working elsewhere in India as labourers, especially in distant states of Punjab, Delhi, UP and Haryana.

Under Development:  No doubt, development is taking place in all areas where ethnic groups of Rajbanshi people are ordinarily residing from time immemorial including fast developing North Bengal; and, there is no denying on it but it is lopsided. Lots of construction works are taking place and urban areas are growing in leaps and bounds. Airports, roads, schools, colleges, universities and various governmental as well as nongovernmental institutions are being established in these areas. But all these developments are taking place at enormous cost to these hapless and poor people. All the development works are beneficial to the mainstream people of the state and certainly not for the Rajbanshi people who form the majority in rural North Bengal.

Condemnable, Brutal and Heinous Criminal Acts against Rajbanshi People of recent Past:

1.    On 14th May, 2018 while on Panchayat election (repoll) duty at Sonapur Basic School under Itahar Block near Raiganj, Rajkumar Roy, S/o – Sh. Priyapada Roy & Smt. Annada Roy (resident of village Kantibhita, Phansidewa Block), Sudarshanpur, Near Sarada Shishutirtha, PO- Sudarshanpur, PS-Raiganj, Dt. U. Dinajpur got missing in the evening. His mutilated dead body was found next day evening near railway tracks. His family members suspected that he was kidnapped and killed by some goons.

2.    On 7th September, 2019, Ms Jaba Roy, D/o – Sh. Balaram Roy, Vill:Singferika, No.1 Sukdebpur GP, Gangarampur Block, D/Dinajpur was raped and murdered allegedly by a suspected Muslim married man.

3.    0n 5th January, 2020, A minor girl Pramila Barman, 17 years, of Class Xth standard, a Rajbanshi Hindu from Kumarganj, Gangarampur, D/Dinajpur, was gangraped, culprits slit her throat and nerves and then burnt her body with petrol. Her charred body was found in an open field under a culvert near a place between Safanagar and Ashokegram under Kumargram P.S. in Dakshin Dinajpur. Allegedly her boyfriend Mahabur Rahaman and his friends Pankaj and Gautam kidnapped her, raped, killed and burnt her dead body.

4.    On 5th May, 2020 Ms Dipali Kumari Singh, Age -15 years, D/o Mrs Renuka Debi (M-7634057274) & Late Nagendra Singh, Vill: Makhanpokhar, Mirzapur GP, PS: Pothia, Dt: Kishanganj, Bihar (Near Karandighi of Uttar Dinajpur) at about 3:00 Dipali Kumari went to look for her mother Mrs Renuka Debi who went for daily wage work. Suspects were two boys who were seen fleeting from the agricultural field where dead body of Dipali was traced - Azad, 19 years, S/o Mukhtar; and One son (name not known) aged approx. 20 years of Md Abdulla of same Makhanpokhar village. Pothia PS registered the case (Case No.86/20 dated 06/05/2020 u/s 302/376 DA/34 I.P.C. and 4/6 Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012).

5.    On Midnight 12-13th Debendra Nath Roy 64 years, MLA, Hemtabad, U/Dinajpur was called by someone from his home at Balia Village, Bindol. Next morning, his dead body was found hanging in front of Shop about a kilometre away. Certain facts such as his one hand being tied by rope while he was hung, his feet were clean while went walking a kilometre on a muddy village path and his shoes left behind near his house, absence of body reactions if he had hung himself etc. made his family members to believe that it was not a suicide but murder; and they demanded a CBI probe.

6.    On 13th July, 2020, house of Ms Swapna Barman of Kaliaganj village Belakoba was raided by the Range Officer Shri Sanjay Dutta along with his deputy Ms Pancholi Roy and team of armed Forest Guards for allegedly buying and keeping wooden logs of some forest which came floating in the nearby swollen Teesta river during rainy season and collected by some villagers. Swapna Barman is the Gold medal winner in the event of Heptathlon in Asian Games, 2017. She was awarded Arjuna Award in 2018. She is known as not only the pride of India but an asset of Asian sports lovers. As the incident stirred the hornets’ nest in the Rajbanshi society, the Hon’ble Chief Minister had to intervene to console Swapna who felt humiliated and take action against the officer concerned by transferring him elsewhere.

7.    On intervening night of 18-19 July, 2020 Ms Mampi Singha, aged 16 years, who had cleared Madhyamik examination this year, resident of village Chaturagachh, PS-Chopra, Uttar Dinajpur, was kidnapped from her home by some miscreants, gang raped, killed and thrown under a banian tree. Subsequently, next day morning, dead body of one of the suspects Firoz Ali of same village was found floating in a village pond. On complaint lodged by deceased Firoz’s family, Asnath Singha, father of the deceased girl along with brothers Madhu Singha and Krishna Singha were arrested.

Above mentioned criminal acts against Rajbanshi people of North Bengal and its close proximity in Bihar have disturbed their mindset. They feel humiliated, neglected and demand stern action against the culprits.

 

Major Demands of Kamatapuri-Rajbanshi People

Recognition of Kamata-Rajbanshi Language: In 2017, the Government of West Bengal had decided, in principle, to recognize Kamtapuri(Rajbanshi) as a State Official Language of West Bengal vide their Notification No.170-Home(Cons)/CE/N/R1M-20/2017 dated Howrah, the 6th March, 2017 and constituted an expert 7-Member Committee to examine all aspects relating to it under the chairmanship of Mr. Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri constituted by the State Govt. to study the issue. The Committee submitted its report to the State Govt.on 31st Dec. 2017. The West Bengal Assembly passed the West Bengal Official Language (Second Amendment) Bill, 2018 on 28th February, 2018 recognising the three languages - Kamtapuri, Rajbanshi and Kurmali which have now joined Bengali, Nepali, Urdu, Hindi, Santhali, Oriya and Punjabi (Gurmukhi) as official languages of the State. The passing of the Bill in the State Assembly, was undoubtedly a landmark decision to recognise the mother tongue of Rajbanshi group of people which is spoken by about two crore people spread over West Bengal, Assam, Northern Bihar, Western Meghalaya in India; and, neighbouring countries of Bangladesh (Northern Region), Nepal (Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari districts) and Plains areas of Bhutan. For long years, there has been a movement for recognition of Kamatapuri language. Kamatapuri, is one of the 38 regional languages under consideration by a high-level committee appointed by the Central Government. Earlier, the demand was raised in the Parliament by the Hon’ble Member of Parliament of Darjeeling, Sardar Surinder Singh Ahluwalia in August 2014. In 2018, the Hon’ble MP of Cooch Behar Shri Partha Pratim Roy raised the proposal of recognizing Rajbanshi language and include in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India. It is noteworthy that both the names i.e. Kamatapuri and Rajbanshi are the same of a one language of these people. Why same language has been recognized by the West Bengal Government is unknown or may have different political motive. Actually, the most acceptable name of the language should be Kamatapuri-Rajbanshi or ‘Kamata Rajbanshi’ language. Accordingly, it should be given constitutional recognition and include in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India.

Raising of Narayani Regiment in Indian Army as per Merger Agreement with Erstwhile Cooch Behar State: As per the policy of Dominion of India on accession of princely states, the Instrument of Accession and the Standstill Agreement prepared on the behest of V.P. Menon, then Secretary to the Government of India were dispatched from the States Department, New Delhi vide their letter dated 1st August, 1947 to Cooch Behar by Registered Post on 5th August, 1947 to then Maharaja of Cooch Behar State Lt.Col. H.H. Maharaja Sir Jagaddipendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, K.C.I.E.   The Instrument of Accession was signed by the Maharaja on 9th August, 1947, duly accepted and signed by then Governor General of India, Mountbatten of Burma on 16th August, 1947. The Standstill Agreement between the State of Cooch Behar and the Dominion of India was signed by Himmat Singh K. Maheshwari, then Chief Minister of Cooch Behar State on 14th August, 1947 and V.P. Menon. These living documents exhibit the urgency and eagerness for accession on the part of both the States Department of the Dominion of India and the Cooch Behar State

    Finally, the formal merger of Cooch Behar with Independent India took place under an Agreement made between the Governor General of India and His Highness the Maharaja of Cooch Behar (Jagaddipendra Narayan) duly signed by the Maharaja and V. P. Menon then Advisor to the Govt. of India, Ministry of States on 28th August, 1949. Accordingly, Cooch Behar State was ceded to the Dominion Government with effect from 12th September, 1949.  Cooch Behar was placed in ‘C’ category of States in the Constitution of India.

    As per the Article VIII(1) of the Agreement – “The Government of India hereby guarantees either the continuance in service of the permanent members of the Public Services of Cooch Behar on conditions which will not be less advantageous than those on which they were serving before the date on which the administration of Cooch Behar is made to the Government of India or the payment of reasonable compensation.”  In connection with the certain points including status of the Armed Forces of Cooch Behar raised by the Maharaja relating to the just concluded Merger Agreement, having considered by the Govt. of India, V.P. Menon in his D.O. letter No.F.15(19)-P/49 dated the having considered by the Govt. of India, V.P. Menon in his D.O. letter No.F.15(19)-P/49 dated the 30th August, 1949 to the Maharaja, clarified queries on 14 points. The 14th point clarified as – (14) Government will endeavour to associate the name “Narayan” with the Cooch Behar State Forces even after their absorption in the Indian Army. 

    Historical background of Koch Army of Cooch Behar Empire comprising of mainly Koch-Rajbanshi people has been a glorious one. As per ‘Akbarnama’, during the reign of great Koch king Nara Narayan(1553-1587 A.D.) aided by his warrior brother and a great military commander, Chilarai, Koch army consisted of 4000 horses, 2,00,000 infantry soldiers, 700 elephants and 1000 war boats. As per Sir E.A. Gaits, the British administrator and a great historian, there were around 52,25,000 able Koch-Rajbanshi youth volunteers to serve the Koch army. Because of the heroic deeds of the soldiers under able command of Chilarai, the Koch kingdom could defeat all north-eastern oriental kingdoms and unified whole of the Northeast. Undoubtedly, credit of uniting North-eastern India must go to the Koch army, who were famously known as ‘Narayani Sena’.

    From the days of merger in 1949, the fate of 'Narayani Company' in the Rajshahi Regiment of Cooch Behar State remained in obscurity due to indifference on the part of the Government of India. The assurances given by the Government during merger are yet to be fulfilled and raising of a Rajbanshi Regiment is one of them. Today, although a young Rajbanshi is free to join any Regiment in Indian Army but it does not give him the honour of being a Rajbanshi of a marshal class. To honour the sacrifices made by the Koch-Rajbanshi people for centuries in fighting adversaries and uniting entire North-eastern India with mainland India during sixteenth century, raising such a Infantry Regiment named ‘Narayani Regiment’ in the Infantry Army is more apt. Raising such a regiment in Indian Army is not going to negate any national policy of India as Infantry Regiments of Indian Army such as Punjab Regiment, Maratha Light Infantry, Jat Regiment, Mahar Regiment, Madras Regiment, Sikh Regiment, Sikh Light Infantry, Gorkha Regiments etc. of Indian Army are doing exceptionally well for ages.

    Under the safe hands of Koch-Rajbanshi soldiers of Cooch Behar Empire remained safe from foreign aggression for centuries. Even most powerful Mughal forces were forced to become ally with Cooch Behar kingdom. The British power acknowledged sovereignty of Cooch Behar as a princely State. It is the fit case to honour the Koch/Rajbanshis by raising ‘Narayani Regiment’ as assured by then 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India, Vallabhbhai Patel during merger of Cooch Behar State with India in 1949. Such an arrangement will certainly fulfill an important aspiration of the erstwhile subjects of Cooch Behar State as well as entire Rajbanshi community. Strategically, such a regiment in the Infantry of Indian Army will bolster the moral of Indian Armed Forces as the entire North Bengal falls in the area of so called ‘Chicken’s Neck’ which is narrow strip of average less than hundred kilometers of three different countries i.e. China in the North, Bangladesh in the south/east and Nepal in the west. Rajbanshis are the majority sentinels of this Chicken’s Neck and going to remain the same forever.  

Restoration of Presidentship / Management of Cooch Behar Religious Trust Board (Devuttor Trust) with the Cooch Behar Royal Family: It has become a contentious issue relating to appointment of President of the Cooch Behar Religious Trust (Debutter or DebottorTrust Board) and management of Temple properties of erstwhile princely state of Cooch Behar.  As per Merger Agreement, arrangements of transfer of powers / terms and conditions of the agreement were further clarified by the Ministry of States, New Delhi letter dated 30th August, 1949 sent by then Advisor to the Ministry of States, New Delhi Mr. Vapal Pangunni Menon, on behalf of Union Govt. and Lt. Col. his Highness Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, last King of Cooch Behar State. Central Government, VP Menon addressed to the Maharaja of Cooch Behar. Serial No.(8) of the said letter (Reference File D.O. No.F.15(19)-P/49 dated 30th August, 1949 mentioned on management of temples and ‘Debuttor’ properties as under: “The management of the temples and Debutter properties in the State may be entrusted to a Trust which shall consist of Your Highness as President, 3 nominees of Your Highness and 2 nominees of Government. This Trust will be in charge of all temples in the State and will also administer the properties of the temples both inside and outside the State. In the event of the abolition of the zamindaris which are Debutter property Government will ensure that the Trust has adequate resources to fulfil its object.” The above clause implied that the Maharaja was undisputed President of the Cooch Behar Religious(Debuttor) Trust and in the event of abolition of zamindari, Central Government would make necessary arrangements and not the State Government of West Bengal.

    Presently, in absence of direct progeny of the king, the District Magistrate of Cooch Behar heads the Trust as President. The Trust has been taken over by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of West Bengal.  If the sentiment of the people and customs of the Rajbanshis have been regarded, then the presidentship of the Trust Board should be restored to the someone eligible in the ex-royal house of the erstwhile Cooch Behar kingdom.

Demand of separate Statehood / Self Rule for Cooch Behar (Rajbanshis): This demand remains in the hearts of all erstwhile subjects of Cooch Behar State and the Rajbanshis in general. Some kind of ‘Self Rule’ arrangement is the need of the hour. Keeping in view of the present-day political scenario, certain political analysts are believed to be contemplating to such an idea to win over the hearts of the Rajbanshis.

Political Rights / Participation of Rajbanshis: Since, the Rajbanshis of North Bengal form the majority rural population and they are politically much aware now, most of the Kamatapuri Rajbanshi organisations demand their representation in State Assembly so that they can raise their concerns and submit their demands in the appropriate forums democratically. Such a huge population who are majority in rural North Bengal should have a say in the governance in the State of West Bengal and Central Government of India. Central point of Democratic ideals ‘Power to the People’ and equal representation in the corridors of power should be respected.

Conclusion

    As I perceive, beginning from seventies, democratic struggles, protests, ‘dharna’s / rallies by numerous Rajbanshi / Kamatapuri organisations / political parties might not have given them their dues or met their demands but certainly made their majority populace awakened. More so, using these people as ‘Vote Bank’ by political parties has made them jittery today towards all stakeholders of their social and political fate. They do not want to be used as mere Vote Bank but a change, a change for better. If that change becomes a reality, then their future will be brightened, real development for them will take place and that going to a big win for Indian democracy and Indian nationalism as Rajbanshis are the nationalists in true sense.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

THE CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2019 (CAA) – THE IMPLICATIONS IN RIGHT PERSPECTIVE




The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (No.47 of 2019) that received the assent of the President of India on the 12th December, 2019, came into force on the 10th January, 2020 vide Govt. of India, Ministry of Home Affairs Notification S.O. No.172(E), dated the 10th January, 2020. This is an Act further to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 which elaborates in details on Short Title, Interpretation of the legal Terms, Methods for Acquisition of Citizenship, Termination of Citizenship, Deprivation of Citizenship, Supplemental Clauses including Power to make rules and Qualifications for Naturalisation.

2. Major Amendments Made:

(a) In the ‘Interpretation’, while describing about “illegal migrant” a proviso has been added - meaning a foreigner who has entered into India with a valid passport or other travel document or authority as may be prescribed by or under any law in that behalf but remains therein beyond the permitted period of time “Provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 and who has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act;’.

          (b) In relation to State of Assam, Special provisions as to citizenship of persons covered by the Assam Accord, (1985); in clause 6A, Citizenship by naturalisation of the principal Citizenship Act, 1955, a new clause 6B has been added which further allows the Central Government to grant certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation to migrants, legal or illegal, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions as mentioned above (2a) .
Secondly, an added clause 6B (4) reads – “Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area under “The Inner Line” notified under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873.”.
 
(c)  In the Third Schedule to the principal act in regard to ‘QUALIFICATIONS FOR NATURALISATION’, in clause (d) that during the fourteen years immediately preceding the said period of twelve months, he has either resided in India or been in the service under a Government in India, or partly the one and partly the other, for periods amounting in the aggregate to not less than eleven years – (added further proviso under the amendment): - Provided that for the person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, the aggregate period of residence or service of Government in India as required under this clause shall be read as “not less than five years” in place of “not less than eleven years”.
             
3. Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, 1985 [It is pertinent here to relate this clause of Assam Accord, 1985 as Rajbanshis of North Bengal or Koch Rajbanshis of Assam (who belong to same ethnic group) are affected by influx of migrants from Bangladesh]:

Signed between the Central Government and the leaders of All Assam Students Union (AASU), the accord came into existence after a six-year agitation demanding expulsion of illegal immigrants into the territory of Assam from neighbouring country Bangladesh.
The Clause reads – Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.  

4. CAA in the National Perspective:

India is already over populated country with a huge population over 133 crores. Bangladeshi migrants are mushrooming in and around all major cities and towns. Further inflow of migrants is not sustainable. At the same time, on humanitarian grounds, it is not advisable to deport the already settled migrants. In such a scenario, CAA allows migrants to settle down in India and applies a stop on further influx of migrants beyond the cutoff date, the 31st December, 2014.

5. CAA in the West Bengal Perspective:

There has been continuous influx of migrants from erstwhile East Pakistan and now Bangladesh into West Bengal ever since partition of India into two countries in 1947 – Pakistan and India on religion based two nation theory i.e. two major religions Hindu and Muslim. As greater opportunities are available in West Bengal, migrants of both religions are heading towards West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. It is likely that during the last decade, maximum number of migrants have entered West Bengal not only directly from Bangladesh but also through Assam as well. At number of places, borders with Bangladesh are porous and movements of both human and trafficking of cattle are a regular feature. Most of the migrants have already obtained required basic documents of citizens such as Aadhar Card, Ration Card, Voter Card and purchased properties in West Bengal. The refugee or migrant colonies in West Bengal have already been given due recognition by the State Government.  Whether CAA is implemented in the State or not, it is almost humanely impossible to deport such a large number of people who, in all practical purposes, have already become citizens of India. If CAA is implemented, at least there will a stop on further influx of migrants from Bangladesh into West Bengal with a cutoff date of 31st December, 2014.

6. CAA in the Perspective of North Bengal in general and Rajbanshis in particular: 

Rajbanshi group of people (Aborigines / ethnic people of different faith) are the majority in rural population in North Bengal and undivided Goalpara district of Assam (Lower Assam). Since the days of partition in 1947, there have been influx of refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) who have settled in vast areas of North Bengal. Rajbanshis who were the landowners in North Bengal have always been courteous and helpful to outside settlers. Poverty and illiteracy were two major factors that made poor Rajbanshis to sell their lands to the settlers on abnormally low cost.
Now, the influx of migrants is changing the demographic picture in North Bengal as it has done in lower Assam. In North Bengal alone, as per Newspaper agency reports, there are 55 to 60 lakhs of Bangladeshi migrants including so called ‘Matua’ community who have settled in North Bengal in recent years. These people have already obtained all the documents such as land deeds, Aadhar- Ration-Voter Cards. It is not advisable to deport all these people who have been welcomed by Rajbanshi group of people.
However, future of Rajbanshis of North Bengal looks bleak as economic, social, linguistic and political negligence are harming these sons of soil, immensely. If CAA is implemented, it will at least put a stop on further influx of illegal migration from Bangladesh with effect from 31st December, 2014 and, if not, the influx of migrants will continue unabated.

7.  Constitutional Safeguards are needed for Rajbanshi Ethnic Group of People:

In Assam, Koch Rajbanshis have recently been assured by the State Government of giving ‘Kamatapur Autonomous Council’ in which they will have certain political and administrative rights. This step by the State Government has lessened the effects of CAA on a majority people of Assam as Koch Rajbanshis form the largest ethnic group in Lower Assam.
In North Bengal, similar measures including the following democratic constitutional welfare measures are suggested:
(a)  Land rights to ‘sons of the soil’ i.e. Rajbanshis and all ethnic aborigines of all religions of the land of North Bengal to save them from outsider well to do settlers.
(b) Economic packages/facilities to these poor people such as housing, agricultural implements / aids, establishing shops/business/industries and job opportunities.
(c)  Educational facilities as rate of illiteracy and school drop outs are maximum among these poor and downtrodden people.
(d) Mother tongue is like ‘Mothers’ Milk as it is widely believed. These group of people are divided into two groups as the State Government has given recognition their mother tongue in two different names - Rajbanshi and Kamatapuri as two different languages. This anomaly needs immediate correction. Only one name should be given such as Kamata-Rajbanshi and it should be included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India as about 2 crore people speak in this historic language.
(e)   Political rights are must in a true democratic nation. While they are in majority in North Bengal, lower Assam and certain areas in Bihar, they have hardly any say in the State governance. In these States, leadership from mainstream community enjoy the power of corridors. Such aberrations need to be corrected through constitutional methods.



Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Rajbashis of North Bengal and Assam in Dilemma over NRC & CAA

We know who are these group of Rajbanshi people. We are aware of their rich historical background. But, many of us show ignorance and avoid telling the truth for obvious reasons. They are economically poor and socially denigrated.
Since, National Register of Citizens (NRC) is being implemented in Assam and Citizenship Amendment Bill(CAB) has become a  (CAA) a Central Act now, Rajbanshi group of people in Assam and North Bengal do feel the pinch.
These people are Aborigines / ethnic people of this vast region of Indian State. They form the majority in rural population in North Bengal and undivided Goalpara district of Assam(Lower Assam). Since the days of partition in 1947, there have been influx of refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Illegal intrusion into this region from across the border is still on. For all these years, Rajbanshi people, true to their simple, friendly nature, welcomed all the Bengali refugees and settlers coming from across the border. Poverty and illiteracy were two major factors that made poor Rajbanshis to sell their lands to immigrant Bengalees. Respective State Governments extended all possible help to all those settlers. As a result, Rajbanshis have been loosing their lands to outsiders. Now, while they welcome NRC, CAA has come as a hindrance. Also, it's a fact that those who have already came from East Pakistan/Bangladesh and settled due to Government patronage or purchased lands, property from Rajbanshis and permanently settled in Assam and North Bengal, cannot be driven away to Bangladesh. It's a fact and reality.
So, whether there's CAA or not, there's hardly any effect on these group of people, practically. However, NRC and CAA will certainly put a break on further influx of illegal immigration from Bangladesh.
Therefore, it's imperative on the part of both State Governments of Assam, West Bengal and the Central Government to make provision of 'Safeguards' for saving the Rajbanshi group of people from further social, economic and political miseries.
At the same time, an appeal to all those Rajbanshi/Kamatapuri organizations/parties who are on the streets to express their protest against CAA to maintain peace and put up their demand democratically and constitutionally.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Excerpts from Sardar Patel’s Correspondences on Merger of erstwhile Princely State of Cooch Behar

       Ever since I learnt that something important was written in this particular volume of Sardar Patel’s Correspondences which came out in seventies, I kept searching for it but never got hold of it. It was much wanted book “Sardar Patel’s Correspondence – 1945-50 Volume 7 – Integrating Indian States – Police Action in Hyderabad”, edited by Durga Das, published by M/s Navjivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad – 380014. Never ever, I could find it in any library in many places in my great country, India. Although, other volumes were traceable in number of libraries, the Volume 7 was not traceable. More I searched, I got despaired. The search was on for this much wanted text of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel which was sent by telegram on 11th September, 1949 to Nanjappa, Chief Commissioner, Cooch Behar on handing over this princely state to Central Administration of India.
          Finally, a copy was found. I got exalted, went up above the sky. It appeared to me that I got the goldmine. How such important information could remain hidden for so long? I got a copy of it so kindly sent to me by Shri Surinder Singh Ahluwalia, Hon’ble Member of Parliament (MP) of Darjeeling Loksabha Constituency. With my earnest request, the Hon’ble MP took all the pains to search a copy and find it from the Library of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Smarak Trust (Regd.), 7 Jantar Mantar Road, New Delhi. The Hon’ble MP wasted no time and sent it to me by hand of his trusted assistant Shri Shiv Deo. Readly, I went through the volume and found the mosy important facts favouring the unfortunate people of my fellow Rajbanshi community, the deprived subject Rajbanshi people of erstwhile princely state Cooch Behar. 
          I must say, the editor, Durga Das, who was Editor-in-Chief, India News & Feature Alliance; Formerly Chief Editor, Hindustan Times, New Delhi; author of ‘India-from Curzon to Nehru and After’ wrote the following astonishing fact in the introduction to Volume VII , page [1vii] :
            Cooch Behar did not want to merge with West Bengal as there was an anti-Bengali feeling in the State. The Maharaja, it was alleged, was considering the possibility of acceding to East Pakistan. The Sardar ruled out merger with West Bengal and the Maharaja accepted the Sardar’s advice and handed over the State to the control of the Centre. In a message to mark the occasion Patel said: “To give up sovereignty over territory is no mean sacrifice. I am grateful to him (Maharaja) for the spirit of accommodation and understanding which he has displayed and the manner in which he accepted our advice.” 
         The book contains eye opening correspondences of the Sardar that may change the whole scenario of the ill fated subject Rajbanshi people of erstwhile princely state Cooch Behar and all Rajbanshis of the neighbouring states and countries. Without any bias or hidden agenda, I am going to unveil the truth which Maniben Patel, beloved daughter of the Sardar, took pains to preserve, compile and publish the mind boggling correspondence of her father who was instrumental in uniting almost all princely Indian states with free Dominion of India on gaining its independence in 1947. 

                 ****************************************************************

                                              Excerpt No.1. Page.547-548/Ser.No.457
Calcutta
15 May 1949

My dear Vallabhbhai,
        You remember I spoke to you on several occasions about allowing Cooch Behar to be merged to West Bengal. I am perfectly sure you are inclined in the same direction. It may be that it will take a little time before the preliminaries can be settled before the merger is decided.
       You know that Sri Sarat Chandra Bose has filed his nomination for the Assembly from South Calcutta, the last date of nomination being 24 May. Poling is taking place on 12 June. I certainly expect help, advice and co-operation from you and Panditji. In this connection may I suggest to you that the announcement from the Centre that Cooch Behar would be merged to West Bengal would be a great help to us in the election campaign? When you have finally decided about this merging, kindly let us know so that we can keep the field ready and make our propaganda that this merging has been affected not by Sri Sarat Chandra Bose but by the West Bengal Government. The Provincial Congress Committee has decided to put up a candidate, strong one, against Sri Sarat Bose. But, of course, the polling booth is always a tricky customer.
I hope you are keeping well.
An early reply will be welcome.

Yours sincerely,

B.C. Roy


The Hon’ble Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Deputy Prime Minister
New Delhi
                                   **********************************************

                            Reply of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel: Page No.548/ Ser. No.458


Dehra Dun
18 May 1949

My dear Bidhan,
Thank you for your letter of 15 May 1949 regarding Cooch Behar. I am afraid we cannot hustle things through like this. In view of the local feeling, it will not be possible for us to do this overnight. We have to tread warily.

Yours sincerely,

Vallabhbhai Patel



The Hon’ble Dr. B.C. Roy
Premier
West Bengal
Calcutta

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                                                   Excerpt No.. Page.549/Ser. No.459

Government House
Shillong
29 June 1948

My dear Sardarji,
       My wife and I have just returned from Cooch Behar. This was our first visit to the State after your decision that its relations with India should be carried on through me. You may therefore be interested in the report of my impressions which is given in Rustamji’s letter to Kripalani, copy enclosed. The only further comment which I wish to make is on the subject of the anti-Bengali feeling in the State.
       I was informed that out of the State’s population of between six and seven lakhs the Bengalis number a mere 30,000; yet Bengali propaganda would make it appear as if Bengalis constitute the greater portion of the population. The bulk of the population consists of Rajbanshis including Muslims between whom and the rajbanshis there is so far amity and free social intercourse. The danger of the situation lies in the fact that the Bengal Congress leaders are lending themselves to propaganda that Cooch Behar should be merged with West Bengal. This is resulting in the Congress as a whole tending to become unpopular in Cooch Behar. Any attempt to bring Cooch Behar under the wing of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee would be violently resisted and in the present state of feeling the Congress would find few Cooch Behari adherents. The best solution in the present circumstances would be to let Cooch Behar come under the wing of the Central Congress; but if that not possible, the second best would be let it be affiliated to the Assam Provincial Congress. This is only the second best solution as it might still further exasperate Bengali feeling against Assam. During my visit I was cordially received by all classes of people which was not a personal tribute to me but relief at seeing in me visible evidence that Cooch Behar was not tied to the apron strings of West Bengal. 
       By their aggressive attitude the Congress leaders of West Bengal and Calcutta press are increasing the animosity roused against West Bengal in this part of India. Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee is visiting Shillong on the 7th and is staying part of the time with us here and the rest with Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy (at his Shillong house) who is accompanying him. I am arranging that every possible courtesy should be shown to them and will take the opportunity of their visit to impress upon them tactfully that if they really want the present anti-Bengali feelings to subside they must put a curb on West Bengal’s propaganda machine for a greater Bengal wanting to absorb bits here and there from her neighbours. Dr. Prafulla Chandra Ghosh, who recently stayed with us in Shillong, created a very good impression both by his moderation.... We were meeting him for the first time, and my wife and I took a very great liking to him. In difference to his advice, Bordoloi*[Premier of Assam] is seriously considering the grant of some compensation to the few sufferers in the Gauhati disturbance and I am encouraging him to persuade his colleagues to agree to this gesture of friendship.
        With my kind regards and hoping that you are getting better and better every day.

Yours sincerely

A.K. Hydari


The Hon’ble Sardar Vallbhbhai Patel

*Gopinath Bardoloi : headed Congress Ministry in 1937-39 and again in 19945.

                                 *******************************************************

                                                             Excerpts from Page:550/Ser No.460


New Delhi
10 July 1948

My dear Hydari,

           Thank you for your letter of 29 June regarding Cooch Behar. I am glad you went there. It has enabled us to get a first-hand report pf how things are shaping there.
           I have seen your letter to Jawaharlal regarding Bengal versa Assam. It is unfortunate that things should develop on these lines. I shall see what can be done to check these matters from worsening.

With kindest regards,

Yours sincerely,
 

Vallabhbhai Patel



His Excellency Sir Akbar Hydari, KCIE, CSI, ICS
Governor of Assam
Shillong

                                        ************************************************

                                                       Excerpts from Page: 551-552/Ser. No.461

Dinhate
29 July 1948

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Deputy Prime Minister
Ministry of States
New Delhi

Sir,
      I, on behalf of the State Prajamandal, beg most respectfully and humbly to submit herewith a copy of the resolution passed unanimously in a meeting for immediate merger of the State and thereby saving Hindusthan from future danger and troubles.


                                                                        RESOLUTION

Resolved that a most reactionary group has been formed, formulated and patronised by the Maharaja of Cooch Behar, to serve his personal purpose of dominating and ruling the people for his own exploitation to the detriment of the interest and safety of the Indian Union. Ignoring the fact that the Raja of the small State (which has an area no greater than that of a sub-division in an Indian district) had so long been allowed to rule the State to serve the ends of the British Raj, His Highness, in collusion and collaboration with his favourite Muslim pro-League and scheduled caste ministers, thinks that he can still now play the same reactionary role as was done previously during the British era. The Ministers of the State are absolutely pro-League and they are in constant touch with Pakistan and the result of their friendship has been to divide the Hindus of the State into two factions namely Cooch Beharis and non-Cooch Beharis (two nation theory). All sorts of rules and regulations have been and are being formed to drive out the caste Hindus of the Indian Union from the State.
The effect of this division among the Hindus by rules and laws has been to effect both solidarity and expansion of the Muslims of the State. The outcome of this policy is to Muslimize the whole State effacing the Hindus. His Highness and his puppet ministers for the purpose of their own personal gain have been dragging the State to be Pakistanized. Attempts are being made to send a deputation to the Deputy Prime Minister of the Indian Union to persuade not to merge the State and with that end in view false figures and charts have been prepared. The actual income of the State is only Rs.48,00,000 but by including false figures as that of tobacco excise duty (which the consumers pay and who practically live outside the State) and also false figures of income tax which according to the prevailing rules and custom should go to the Indian Exchequer, the total income of the State is falsely shown Rs.75,00,000. It will suffice to say that the land revenue of the State is only Rs.22,00,000. To allow the State to remain autonomous will be suicide to the safety and interest of Hindustan.
        In view of the above circumstances and many others it is resolved further unanimously that for the safety and interest of the people of Cooch Behar and custom for the solidarity of the Indian Union the State of Cooch Behar be at once merged with such a province which is indissolubly connected with Cooch Behar State culturally, economically, geographically and linguistically.

Yours sincerely,


For the State Prajamandal Cooch Behar
Radhakanta Sarkar
Secretary

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                                                     Excerpts from Page:552/Ser. No.462


                                                                  TELEGRAM

Gitaldaha
4 August 1948

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Home Minister
New Delhi

COOCH BEHAR STATE AUTHORITIES FORCING PEOPLE TO SIGN AGAINST MERGING AND MAKING PROPOGANDA AGAINST INDIAN DOMINION. TAKE ACTION.


SECRETARY,
BAMANHAT THANA CONGRESS

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                                                     Excerpts from Page:553-554/Ser. No.463


                                                                    TELEGRAM

Camp Birla House
Malabar Hill
11 September 1949

From

Ministhome
Bombay

To Nanjappa
Chief Commissioner
Cooch Behar

FOLLOWING IS SARDAR PATEL’S MESSAGE:
(BEGINS) ON THE HANDING OVER OF COOCH BEHAR TO CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION I SEND TO ITS PEOPLE MY BEST WISHES AND ASSURANCE ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA THAT, THOUGH FAR, THEIR INTEREST AND WELFARE WILL CLAIM OUR CLOSE AND INTIMATE ATTENTION. I AM FULLY AWARE OF THE MANY PROBLEMS, POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC, WHICH AFFECT THE STATE AND I AM CONFIDENT THAT WITH THEIR COOPERATION AND ASSISTANCE WE WOULD SUCCEED IN SOLVING THEM IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE STATE AND THE COUNTRY. FOR THEIR HAPPINESS AND PROSPERITY, UNITY AND MUTUAL ADJUSTMENT BETWEEN THE CONSTITUENT ELEMENTS OF THE POPULATION ARE ESSENTIAL PREREQUISITES, WITHOUT THESE SUCH RESOURCES AND PERSONNEL AS WE MAY BE ABLE TO SPARE FOR THEM WOULD AVAIL LITTLE. I HOPE THEREFORE THAT THE PEOPLE OF COOCH BEHAR WILL WORK WITH SINGLE-MINDEDNESS AND DEVOTION TO DUTY AS A UNITED TEAM FOR THEIR OWN BETTERMENT AND TO ACHIEVE THEIR DUE PLACE IN THE POLITICAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE SET-UP OF INDIA. TO ACCEPT TRANSFER OF TERRITORY FROM A RULER IS NO SMALL RESPONSIBILITY. I AM THEREFORE CERTAIN THAT HIS HIGHNESS THE RULER OF COOCH BEHAR WILL APPRECIATE THE SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY WHICH WE FEEL ON THIS OCCASION. TO GIVE UP SOVEREIGNTY OVER TERRITORY IS NO MEAN SACRIFICE. I AM GRATEFUL TO HIM FOR THE SPIRIT OF ACCOMMODATION AND UNDERSTANDING WHICH HE HAS DISPLAYED AND THE PROMPT MANNER IN WHICH HE ACCEPTED OUR ADVICE. MAY HE AND HIS PEOPLE FEEL HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS UNDER THE NEW DISPENSATION WHICH IS BEING INAUGURATED TODAY - ENDS.

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                                               Excerpts from Page : 554/Ser. No.464

Government House
Calcutta
4 October 1948

My dear Sardar Sahib,
       There has been all sorts of reports in the newspapers about the developments in Cooch Behar. It was suggested that the Muslims from Eastern Pakistan were infiltrating into Cooch Behar and some reports went to the length of suggesting that there would be a definite attempt made to make Cooch Behar join Pakistan, and this movement would not be wholly repugnant to the ruling house. The police report which I recently saw was very much to that effect. Last week Mr. Himmat Singh K. Maheshwari who is now the Chief Minister in Cooch Behar called on me. I have known him for a long time as he was in the UP Civil Service. He assured me that all these reports were completely baseless. There was absolutely no infiltration of Muslims of any kind and no pro-Pakistan movement of any description. The Muslim Minister who is an elected representative on the Legislative Council is an entirely harmless individual. He suggested that all these reports were parts of propaganda for ulterior ends. I have advised him to submit a full report to you of all that is happening and what the true state of affairs in Cooch Behar is from his point of view. Cooch Behar having acceded to the Indian Dominion, the Government of India are vitally interested in its security, and should, I think, be kept informed correctly of what is happening in the State. I dare say that this advice was unnecessary and you are in full possession of all these facts.

With respectful regards,

Yours sincerely,


K.N. Katju*


The Hon’ble Shri Vallabhbhai Patel
Deputy Prime Minister


*Minister in first Congress Ministry, UP, 1937 and later in 1946; Governor of Orissa, 1947; Minister of Home and later Defence in Nehru Cabinet; Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh 
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                                                     Reply- Page:555/Ser. No.465


New Delhi
9 October 1948


My dear Katju,
        Thank you for your letter of 4 October 1948. I am so glad to hear what you say about Cooch Behar, particularly the reliance you place in its Chief Minister, Himmat Singh K. Maheshwari. I was a bit uneasy about conditions there as reported by my Bengali friends. It is something that things are not as bad as they are painted.
2.       I shall certainly keep in view J.L. Jobanputra, the ex-Dewan of Sachin State. I know him personally.

With kindest regards,

Yours sincerely,

Vallabhbhai Patel


His Excellency Shri Kailash Nath Katju
Governor of West Bengal
Government House
Calcutta.

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           Hope better sense prevails in the corridors of political power at the highest level in India to rectify the errors which were committed against the most docile, simple, patriot people of Rajbanshi communities as mentioned in above mentioned correspondence of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Hope his assurances given to Rajbanshis, the majority subject population of erstwhile Cooch Behar State, are honoured in right earnest.


Jai Hind !