Barak Valley

The Barak Valley[1] is located in the southern region of the Indian state of Assam. The main city of the valley is Silchar. The region is named after the Barak river. The Barak valley mainly consists of three administrative districts of Assam - namely Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi.

Barak Valley


Last Dimasa Kachari King, Raja Govinda Chandra Hasnu of Cachar Valley, 1832

After the fall of Kamarupa kingdom the region became a part of the Tripura Kingdom in the mediaeval era, then in the year 1562 Koch king Chilarai annexed the Cachar region to the Koch kingdom and it became a part of the Koch kingdom as Khaspur (or Kochpur) administered by his half-brother Kamalnarayan.[2] After the death of Nara Narayan, the region became independent and was ruled by the descendants of Kamalnarayan. In the 17th-century, the last Koch ruler's daughter married the king of the Kachari kingdom, and the rule of Khaspur passed into the hands of the Kachari rulers, who eventually moved their capital from Maibang to Khaspur.[3]

The Kachari kingdom was annexed to British-India in 1832. The headquarters of the district was Silchar. The British Companies established a very large number of Tea Gardens (total 157) in the area and Silchar emerged as a very important center in this part of the country.

Inclusion of KarimganjEdit

In 1947, when a plebiscite was held in Sylhet with majority voting for incorporation with Pakistan. The Sylhet district was divided into two; the easternmost subdivision of Sylhet which is known as Karimganj remained with India whereas the rest joined East Bengal. Geographically the region is surrounded by hills from all three sides except its western plain boundary with Bangladesh. Nihar Ranjan Roy, author of Bangalir Itihash, claims that "South Assam / Northeastern Bengal or Barak Valley is the extension of the Greater Surma/Meghna Valley of Bengal in every aspect from culture to geography".[4]

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. Abdul Matlib 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.[5] On 20 February 1947 Moulvi Mazumdar inaugurated a convention – Assam Nationalist Muslim's Convention at Silchar. Thereafter another big meeting was held at Silchar on 8 June 1947.[6] 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.[7][8] Mazumdar was the leader of the delegation that pleaded before the Radcliffe Commission that ensured that a part of Sylhet (now in Bangladesh) remains with India despite being Muslim-majority (present Karimganj district).[9][10]


According to the 2011 Indian census, Barak valley had a population of 3,624,599.[11]

Historical Population of Barak Valley
1901 630,302—    
1911 713,566+13.2%
1921 751,560+5.3%
1931 803,694+6.9%
1941 895,140+11.4%
1951 1,115,865+24.7%
1961 1,378,476+23.5%
1971 1,713,318+24.3%
1981 -—    
1991 2,491,496—    
2001 2,995,769+20.2%
2011 3,624,599+21.0%
Source: [12][13]


Languages spoken in Barak Valley (2011)[14]

  Bengali (80.84%)
  Hindi (10%)
  Manipuri (3.49%)
  Dimasa (0.6%)
  Tripuri (0.59%)
  Odia (0.53%)
  Nepali (0.14%)
  Others (2.43%)

As per (2011) language census report, Bengali is the official as well as the most spoken language of the region with approximately 2,930,378 native speakers. Hindi, Manipuri, Bishnupriya and Dimasa are the next most widely spoken languages with 362,459, 126,498, 50,019 and 21,747 native speakers, respectively. Tripuri, Odia, Nepali and Marwari are also spoken by a considerable minority, while 2.43% of the total population speaks other tribal languages.[15]

According to census 2011, the major languages of Cachar district are Bengali, Hindi, Manipuri, Bhojpuri, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Dimasa, Khasi, Hmar and Odia in descending order of population. In the Hailakandi district, the major languages are Bengali, Hindi, Tripuri language, Manipuri and Bhojpuri. In the Karimganj district, the major languages are Bengali and Hindi.[16][a]


Religions in Barak Valley (2011) [11]

  Hinduism (50%)
  Islam (48.1%)
  Christianity (1.6%)
  Others (0.3%)
Barak's Religious diversity as of the 2011 census[17]
Religion Population
Hindus ( ) 1,812,141
Muslims ( ) 1,744,958
Christians ( ) 58,105
Others 9,395
Total 3,624,599

Hinduism, by a sliver, is the slight majority religion in the Barak Valley. The religious composition of the valley population is as follows: Hindus 50%, Muslims 48.1%, Christians 1.6%, and others 0.3%. Hindus are the majority in Cachar district (59.83%) with having (86.31%) Hindu in the district headquarter ; Silchar (which is also the main city of the valley). While Muslims are the majority in Hailakandi district (60.31%) and Karimganj district (56.36%), but Hailakandi town have (67.26%) Hindu majority, Karimganj town have also a Hindu Majority of (86.57%) as of 2011 census.[11]

"Barak valley" 1951 censusEdit

Religions in Barak Valley (1951) [18]

  Hinduism (60.63%)
  Islam (38.48%)
  Others (0.89%)

Barak Valley had a population of 1,115,865 as per 1951 census of India. The Hindu population was 676,660, muslim population was 429,496, while others constitute 0.89% as per as 1951 census.

Population by district tehsils (2011)Edit


1) Cachar district total- 1,736,617

Sonai circle - 324,315

Katigora circle - 291,875

Udharbond circle - 124,090

Lakhipur circle - 291,872

Silchar circle - 704,465

2) Hailakandi district total - 659,296 (2011)

Algapur circle - 121,379

Hailakandi circle - 166,897

Katlichara circle - 168,077

Lala circle - 202,943

3) Karimganj district total - 1,228,686 (2011)

Badarpur circle - 164,703

Karimganj circle - 278,300

Nilambazar circle - 242,451

Patharkandi circle - 261,368

Ramkrishna Nagar circle - 281,864


Decadal Hindu and Muslim population of Barak Valley [18]
Year (census) Hindu population and percentage Muslim population and percentage
1951 676,660 (60.63%) 429,496 (38.48%)
1961 821,600 (59.60%) 539,457 (39.13%)
1971 1,005,995 (58.71%) 683,387 (39.88%)
1991 1,381,803 (55.46%) 1,071,872 (43.02%)
2001 1,580,660 (52.76%) 1,362,114 (45.46%)
2011 1,812,141 (50.00%) 1,744,958 (48.1%)

Hindu and Muslim population by district tehsilsEdit

Cachar district tehsils 2011[18][19]
District Cachar/Tehsils Hindu population and percentage Muslim population and percentage
Sonai circle 133,507 (41.17%) 184,588 (56.92%)
Katigora circle 131,352 (45%) 156,290 (53.55%)
Udharbond circle 87,423 (70.45%) 32,320 (26.05%)
Lakhipur circle 178,163 (61.04%) 95,476 (32.71%)
Silchar circle 508,540 (72.19%) 186,142 (26.42%)

Hindus are majority in three tehsils of Cachar district namely Silchar, Lakhipur and Udharbond, while Muslims are majority in Katigora and Sonai circle according to 2011 census.

Hailakandi district tehsils 2011[18]
District Hailakandi/Tehsils Hindu population and percentage Muslim population and percentage
Algapur circle 38,501 (31.72%) 82,126 (67.66%)
Hailakandi circle 47,198 (28.28%) 118,626 (71.08%)
Katlichara circle 79,019 (47.01%) 84,044 (50%)
Lala circle 86,476 (42.61%) 112,857 (55.61%)

Hindus are significant in two tehsils of Hailakandi namely Katlichara and Lala, while Muslims are majority in all the three tehsils, but in Katlichara muslims form a plurality according to 2011 census.

Karimganj district tehsils 2011[18]
District Karimganj/Tehsils Hindu population and percentage Muslim population and percentage
Badarpur circle 56,800 (34.49%) 106,909 (64.91%)
Karimganj circle 117,877 (42.36%) 159,068 (57.16%)
Nilambazar circle 58,767 (24.24%) 182,567 (75.3%)
Patharkandi circle 129,502 (49.55%) 124,768 (47.74%)
Ramkrishna Nagar circle 159,016 (56.42%) 119,177 (42.28%)

Hindus are majority in two tehsils of Karimganj namely Patharkandi and Ramkrishna Nagar, while Muslims are majority in Nilambazar, Badarpur and Karimganj circle according to 2011 census.

Statehood demandEdit

There have been continuous demand in Bengali dominated Barak valley for separate statehood and for it being carved out from the Assamese-majority Brahmaputra valley post NRC.[20] Barak valley is the most neglected part of Assam in terms of its infrastructure development, tourism sector, educational institutions, hospitals, IT industries, etc which is still lagging behind in comparison to the Assam's mainland Brahmaputra valley which have access to all of those facilities mentioned above.[21]

Social issuesEdit

Immigration of Bengali refugees in Cachar ValleyEdit

(East Pakistan's Bengali Hindus of Sylhet Division coming to Barak's Cachar district as refugees, 1947)

In 1947 during Partition of Bengal period, it has been found that from 15th August 1947 to April 1950, the Bengali Hindu refugees population in Cachar increased to 200,000 and but after Liaquat–Nehru Pact it came down to 93,177 in 1951. According to 1961 census, the number of East Bengali refugees living in Cachar alone is found to be 156,307 which is way higher than the previous census.[22] No new Hindu immigration happened in the post 1971 period in Barak valley. Bengali Hindus who landed up in Barak valley from Bangladesh in the post 1971 census have moved out of the region before the 1991 census.[23] The number of Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh in Barak Valley has varied estimates. According to the Assam government, 1.3-1.5 lakh such people residing in the Barak Valley are eligible for citizenship if the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 becomes a law.[24][25]


Barak valley has witnessed many major communinal riots in 1968, 1990, 2017 and 2019 in Karimganj, Hailakandi, Silchar and again in Hailakandi.[26][27][28]

Lists of riots involving Communalism in Barak valley region -

Karimganj 1968 riot

In the 1968 Karimganj riots, a cow belonging to a Muslim wandered into a Hindu house. When a Hindu boy tried to chase the cow, a few Muslims beat him up. Soon after that clashes erupted between the two communities. The ensuing riot claimed 82 lives.[29]

Hailakandi 1990 riot

In October 1990, a wounded cow was found near a common land, which led to clashes between Hindus and Muslims. Police records reveal that the Hindus of Hailakandi had demanded that parcel of land to construct a Kali temple. In fact, Sangh Parivar had earlier organised pujas to ritually purify bricks for shilayas at Ayodhya on the common land. The appearance of an injured cow hurt their sentiments and led to a riot resulting in many casualties.[30]

Silchar 2013 riot

In 2013, rumours of beef being found in a temple in Silchar sparked hindu muslim clashes in which at least 30 people were injured.[31]

Silchar 2015 riot

In 2015, there was tension yet again when the head of a slaughtered cow was found in a temple in Silchar. On the same year, allegations of “love jihad” – a term used by Hindutva groups to allege a conspiracy by Muslim men to marry women from other religions solely to convert them to Islam – sparked violent clashes in the city area.[32]

Silchar 2017 riot

On 07 June 2017, Clashes broke out between two communities in the Silchar city of Assam’s Cachar district on Tuesday evening. The incident took place in the Janigunj area of Silchar. According to police 11 civilians and eight police officials were injured in large scale stone pelting. However, there were no casualties in the incident.[33]

Hailakandi 2019 riot

Local reports said that the tension started when motorbikes owned by muslim devotees were vandalised while they were praying inside a mosque. The motorbike owners lodged a first information report and demanded that the police take action against the accused and said that they will offer prayers on the road if action was not taken. Mohneesh Mishra, Hailakandi’s police chief, told that the clashes began when a group of Muslim men assembled on a public road in the town and said they will offer prayers on the street. “The Hindu community tried to stop them and that led to an argument and soon after that it turned into riot,” said Mishra, while adding that heavy security had been deployed in the area. At least 14 people were injured out of which 3 were police Constables and also 1 was killed in a communal clash in Hailakandi district in Assam which have occurred in October 2019.[34][35]

Hailakandi 2021 riot

Tension began at Hailakandi’s Serispore Tea Garden area after an e-rickshaw driver who was happened to be a Muslim and his passengers (who were all hindus) entered into an argument. After this confrontation, people from two separate groups gathered at the site and started attacking each other. Soon after that, a curfew was imposed. As per as A.H Laskar a police of Hailakandi police station, both parties were pelting stones at each other.[36]


A tea garden of Cachar district

Tea is the important economic activity and Barak Valley have also its proportional share of tea garden in comparison to Brahmaputra valley to sustains its economy from time to time. There are plenty of oil and natural gas under the surface of Barak valley as well to run the economy as a separate state. Various oil refineries are also set up in various locations of Barak valley to meet the required economic demand.[37]

Forest coverEdit

There are around 104 forest Villages in Barak Valley.[38] Among the three districts in Barak Valley, Cachar have an area of 3,786 sq km², out of which 2222.34 sq km² area is covered with forest, Hailakandi district have a total area of 1,327 sq km², out of which 774.34 sq km² is covered with forest, Karimganj district have a total area of 1,809 sq km², out of which 851.43 sq km² area is covered with forest.[39]

List of districts in Barak valleyEdit

Barak Valley district map

There are three districts in the Barak Valley.

  1. Karimganj having an area of 1,809 km² and is the second largest district of the valley.
  2. Hailakandi having an area of 1,327 km² is third largest district of the valley.
  3. Cachar having an area of 3,786 km². It is the largest district of the valley.


Barak River, a natural scenaric beauty of valley

The Asian elephant has already vanished from most of the valley.[40][41][42] Barail is the only wildlife sanctuary of the Barak valley region. It was initiated by noted naturalist Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury, who originally hailed from this region in the early 1980s.[43] This sanctuary was ultimately notified in 2004. There are thirteen reserve forests in the valley comprising six in Karimganj, five in Cachar, and two are in Hailakandi.[44][45] The Patharia hills reserve forest of Karimganj is the habitat of many mammals and was recommended to upgrade as 'Patharia hills wildlife sanctuary'.[46] The southern part was also recommended as 'Dhaleswari' wildlife sanctuary.[47]


Barak Valley has two Lok Sabha seats.

Barak Valley has fifteen Assam Legislative Assembly seats.

  • Badarpur
  • Algapur
  • Hailakandi
  • Katlicherra
  • Karimganj South
  • Karimganj North
  • Ratabari
  • Patharkandi
  • Katigorah
  • Dholai
  • Udharbond
  • Sonai
  • Silchar
  • Barkhola
  • Lakhipur

Districts tehsilsEdit

  1. Cachar district -: Katigora, Sonai, Silchar, Udharbond, Lakhipur.
  2. Hailakandi district -: Algapur, Hailakandi, Katlichara, Lala.
  3. Karimganj district -: Badarpur, Karimganj, Nilambazar, Patharkandi, Ramkrishna Nagar.

Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ Languages constituting less than 1% and/or substantially lower as compared to the total population are not included


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  2. ^ (Bhattacharjee 1994:71)
  3. ^ (Bhattacharjee 1994:72)
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  19. ^ "C-1 Population By Religious Community". Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  20. ^ "'Separate state a better option for Bengalis'". Sentinel Assam. 30 October 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  21. ^ Saikia, Arunabh (29 December 2017). "A tale of two valleys: What's behind the demand for a separate Union Territory in southern Assam?". Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  22. ^ › Series-2PDF Settlement of East Bengal Refugees in Tea Gardens of South Assam ...
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  39. ^ 11.3.1 Introduction Assam the second ... - Forest Survey of India
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  41. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (1999). Status and Conservation of the Asian elephant Elephas maximus in north-eastern India. Mammal Review 29(3): 141-173.
  42. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (2004). Vanishing habitat threatens Phayre’s leaf monkey. The Rhino Found. NE India Newsletter 6:32-33.
  43. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (1989). Campaign for wildlife protection:national park in the Barails. WWF-Quarterly No. 69,10(2): 4-5.
  44. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (2005). Amchang, Barail and Dihing-Patkai – Assam’s new wildlife sanctuaries. Oryx 39(2): 124-125.
  45. ^ Talukdar, N.R., Singh, B., Choudhury, P. (2018) Conservation status of some endangered mammals in Barak Valley, Northeast India. Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity 11:167–172.
  46. ^ Talukdar, N.R., Choudhury, P. (2017). Conserving wildlife wealth of Patharia Hills reserve Forest, Assam, India: a critical analysis. Global Ecology and Conservation 10:126–138.
  47. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (1983). Plea for a new wildlife refuge in eastern India. Tigerpaper 10(4):12-15.


  • Bhattacharjee, J B (1994), "Pre-colonial Political Structure of Barak Valley", in Sangma, Milton S (ed.), Essays on North-east India: Presented in Memory of Professor V. Venkata Rao, New Delhi: Indus Publishing Company, pp. 61–85
  • Tunga, S. S. (1995). Bengali and Other Related Dialects of South Assam. Delhi: Mittal Publications. ISBN 9788170995883. Retrieved 19 February 2013.

See alsoEdit

Sylhet division

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 24°48′N 92°45′E / 24.800°N 92.750°E / 24.800; 92.750