Karimganj (Bengali: করিমগঞ্জ, Sylheti: ꠈꠞꠤꠝꠉꠂꠘ꠆ꠎ) is one of the 33 districts of Assam, India. Karimganj city is both the administrative headquarters district and the biggest city of this district. It is located in Central Assam and borders Tripura and the Sylhet Division of Bangladesh. It makes up the Barak Valley alongside Hailakandi and Cachar. These three districts were also previously part of the Greater Sylhet region before the Partition of India. It became a district in 1983.
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The early history of present district of Karimganj, Assam, is hazy and obscure. With available source materials and evidence, it is difficult to construct a chronologically comprehensive account of the early history of the region. Only a broad outline, with major gaps, can be attempted.
From the Nidanpur copper inscription issued by King Bhaskarbarman, (found in Nidanpnur village of Sylhet district) it is learned that the region was within the Kamrupa Kingdom for about a hundred years since the 6th century A.D. The social organisations of the region were transformed under the leadership of the pioneer immigrant Brahmins from North India. The introduction of plough-based agriculture as economic basis by the Brahmins had its beginning during this period. From the Marundnath's Kalapur copper plates issued by Samatat king, it is learned that in the 7th century, this region, along with foothills of North Cachar Hills had passed on to the Samatat Kingdom of the Eastern Bengal. Of course, there is no direct evidence to prove it. In the 10th century, King Srichandra of the renowned Chandra Dynasty of Eastern Bengal incorporated the entire region within his Chandra Kingdom. During this period, the Chandrapur Mat or monastery, situated at Panchakhanda (8 miles from Karimganj town, now in Bangladesh), became a very reputed centre of learning for indian philosophy, science and culture. According to the renowned historian D.C. Sarkar, the Chandrapur Monastery was the greatest centre of Hindu-learning in the entire Eastern India of that period. From two Bhatera inscriptions of Govindakeshava Deva and Ishan Deva,(found in the Bhatera village of Sylhet district) it is learnt that there was an independent Srihatta Rajya in the 12th century within which the entire Karimganj District along with a major portion of the Cachar plains were incorporated.
When Shah Jalal, a Muslim Sufi Saint from Yemen, conquered Sylhet in 1328, Srihatta, along with a major portion of Karimganj district, passed to the Bengal Sultanate. A portion of Karimganj district comprising the present thana area of Patharkandi was under the control of the Tripura King at that period. However a large Persian force led by a man called Mirza Malik Muhammad Turani captured the town of Badarpur this region in the late 14th century. Turani crowned himself king and married Umavati, the daughter of the defeated governor of the town, a Khasi Chief named Pura Raja. The family continued to expand their rule over the next few generations until their descendant, Malik Pratap Raja, eventually conquered the entirety of Patharkandi.
However, during the reign of Hussain Shah (1483–1519), this region - at that time known as Pratapgarh – also came under the Sultanate. There are two inscriptions - one of Hussain Shah, and another of his son Mahmud Shah, found respectively at Kaliganj and Suprakandi – to show that Bengal sultanate had complete sway over this entire region. The region, along with other parts of Sylhet, was incorporated within the Mughal Empire in 1576 during the reign of Akbar. According to Ain-I-Akbari, most of the areas of the district were placed under the Pratapgarh Revenue Mahal of the Silhat Sarkar of the Mughals. The district continued to be part of the Silhat Sarkar and Bangla Suba of the Mughals.
British Era and Freedom MovementEdit
In 1785, the diwani of the Bangla Suba was taken over by the British East India Company and the District of Sylhet, of which Karimganj was a part, passed on to the British. However, up to 1786, the British could not establish their hegemony over the entire region. A local Zamindar, Radharam, brought under his administrative control, a vast region of Southern Karimganj, and local people started calling him Nawab Radharam. His blatant defiance of British authority brought the matters to a head, but Radharam survived two successive expeditions of the British contingents. Ultimately, a reinforced contingent succeeded in capturing him after defeating his forces. While he was being carried to Sylhet by the Company soldiers, Radharam reportedly committed suicide. It is only with his fall in 1786 that the British could establish their complete authority in the region around Karimganj.
In November 1857, three companies of the 34th Native Infantry stationed at Chittagong mutinied and they subsequently emerged in the south-east of the Sylhet District. At Latu village of present Karimganj district, these rebel soldiers encountered a contingent of the Sylhet Light Infantry under the command of Major Byng. The sepoys were defeated, but Major Byng was killed. At Malegar hillock of Latu village, the graves of the fallen rebels are still venerated by the local people.
In 1878, the British administration designated Karimganj town as the headquarters of the newly created sub-division of Karimganj. Before the Partition of India in 1947, Karimganj District was a sub-division of greater Sylhet District. Many tallukas and zamindari estates were located here.
During the British rule,the people of the area getting hostile, started supporting the cause of freedom and participated in the movement against British rule.Many participated in the non violent movement led by Congress, while many others also participated in the violent movement against British rule by joining revolutionary groups led by Anushilon Samity and Jugantar.The people of entire Surma Valley were on the forefront of the freedom struggle.The great Bipinchandra Paul of famous 'Lal Bal Paul' was the son of this Valley.There were number of Hindu, Muslim,Brahma freedom fighters took part in the freedom movement.
Assam's Sylhet district (now in Bangladesh except a negligible portion, which is now in India,i.e., present Karimganj district of Assam) was once a part of Bengal. When Assam attained statehood, the Sylhet district was taken away from Bengal and merged with Assam.Sylhet was an educationally advanced district of Bengal.When the district was merged with Assam most of the white color jobs were occupied by the Bengali speaking people of Sylhet.The newly emerged Assamese Hindu middle class people did not like the Sylheti dominations over government services and other white color jobs.They wanted to get rid of the Sylheti domination. At the time of independence, Muslim League wanted Assam to be part of Pakistan, but was bound to drop the proposal due to strong opposition from the state government.At this juncture the proposal of referendum of only Sylhet district was shrewdly placed before the British Authority.The proposal was backed by the then Assam government and the provincial committee of Assam Congress (dominated by Assamese speaking people). The British authority, Muslim League and Congress agreed to the proposal.An unanimous decision for the referendum of Sylhet district was taken thereafter. During referendum leave of all government employees were cancelled. Though all of them were not involved in referendum duty. Many believed that the decision was taken only to prevent the Sylheti government employees who had substantial influence over the native of Sylhet (Most of the employees were against the referendum).Tea garden labourers were kept away from vote to referendum showing them outsiders of the district, though they were comparatively newcomer but living here generation after. generation since inception of tea industry.
Sylhet had marginally Muslims majority population. On the eve of partition, hectic activities intensified by the Muslim League as well Congress and others.The irony of the Sylhet referendum was that the representative of the district Mr. Basanta Kumar Das (then Home Minister of Assam) remained silent spectator when proposal was passed. But after that he along with Sylhet district Congress Committee and other political parties tried to stop partition. But it was then too late. They travelled throughout the district, organising and addressing meetings, educating the masses about the outcome of partition on the basis of religion.
The result of referendum went in favour of partition. Sylhet district was merged with East Pakistan except a small portion (left out to Assam now known as Karimganj district).The peculiarity of Sylhet Referendum was that a sizable number of Muslims did not cast their vote in favour of partition and a large numbers of lower caste Hindus supported the partition.
The entire eastern India was swept by violence just after India's partition and independence on 15 August 1947. Scores of Hindus fled the newly created East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) for India, and a few Muslims also fled to East Pakistan. A large number of people lost their lives owing to violence, which resurfaced with more ferocity in 1950. As proverb goes,that the time is a great healer, and after eight decades of partition, Karimganj now is one of the peaceful districts of Assam.
During the Bangladesh’s war of liberation in 1970-72 thousands of refugees who fled the then East Pakistan got relief and rehabilitation in Assam including Karimganj.
Partition & post-partition periodEdit
At the time of Partition of India in 1947, most of Sylhet District joined East Pakistan, which eventually became the independent nation of Bangladesh in 1971, barring three-and-half thana areas (Ratabari, Patharkandi, Badarpur and half of Karimganj thana) of the Karimganj sub-division. This truncated Karimganj sub-division was incorporated in the Cachar District of Assam as a full-fledged sub-division. The Karimganj sub-division was upgraded to a district on 1 July 1983. Karimganj Town was designated as the district headquarters of the newly created Karimganj District.
Karimganj district occupies an area of 1,809 square kilometres (698 sq mi), comparatively equivalent to Alaska's Afognak Island. It is bordered on the north east by Cachar District, east and south by Hailakandi District, south by Mizoram, southwest by Tripura state, and on the west and northwest by Bangladesh. Karimganj Town, the administrative headquarters and main town of the district also bears the same name, that is, Karimganj. Karimganj town is located on the northern fringe of the district adjoining Bangladesh, by the river Kushiyara.
Its distance from Guwahati - the largest city of Assam - is approximately 330 km by road and about 350 km by rail. Distances of other important places are : Silchar - 55 km, Shillong - 220 km, Agartala - 250 km. Flanked on two sides by the rivers Kushiyara and Longai, Karimganj town is located just on the Bangladesh border with the river Kushiyara flowing in between. One prominent feature of the place is a long and winding canal called Noti Khal meandering through the town. Earlier, it used to be a connecting river way between Kushiyara and Longai facilitating river communication and also balancing of water-levels between the two rivers. Now, however, this canal has been blocked at several places through embankments and landfills to pave way for road transport and construction works. Latu is one of the historically interesting villages of Karimganj.
The forests of Karimganj were once rich in wildlife but now vanishing due to human onslaught. Rare species found are Son Beel Tiger, Hoolock gibbon, Porcupine,Golden Langur (Hanuman), Monkey,Fox,Asian Elephant, Giant river otter, macaw parrots, Parakeets, Hornbil,Maina,different types of local and migratory birds, Snakes,Coypubara (2nd largest rodent in world) etc., have been recorded. The southern part was also recommended as 'Dhaleswari' wildlife sanctuary.
Karimganj town is an important centre of trade and commerce in the North East India. Its river port, with elaborate infra-structures like cargo-terminal, jetty, warehouses etc., is capable of handling large volumes of cargoes carried by steamers plying through river ways via Bangladesh. Karimganj is also a borders trade centre and import-export business worth crores of rupees is carried out through the custom trade point at Dakbangla Ghat in the town and Sutarkandi Custom Station.
Karimganj District has one sub-division. The district has 5 tehsils or development circles (Karimganj, Badarpur, Nilambazar, Patharkandi and Ramkrishna Nagar), two urban areas (Karimganj and Badarpur) 3 towns (Karimganj, Badarpur, and Badarpur Railway Town), 7 community development blocks (North Karimganj, South Karimganj, Badarpur, Patharkandi, Ramkrishna Nagar, Dullavcherra and Lowairpoa), 7 police stations (Karimganj, Badarpur, Ramkrishna Nagar, Patharkandi, Ratabari, Nilambazaar, and Bazarichara), 96 gram panchayats, and seven anchalik panchayats.
There are five Assam Legislative Assembly constituencies in this district: Ratabari, Patharkandi, Karimganj North, Karimganj South, and Badarpur. Ratabari is designated for scheduled castes. All five are in the Karimganj Lok Sabha constituency.
- Villages of Karimganj district :*
- (1)Bhairab Nagar :*
Demography : The inhabitants of Bhairab Nagar are Bengali speaking people of Sylhet district of Bangladesh as this part was under the district before 15.08.1947 and a few from Bankura and Purulia districts of West Bengal. Most of the people of the village are Hindu by religion.
Location : Bhairab Nagar is under Ramakrishna Nagar tehsil of Karimganj district in Assam state of India. It is the bordering village with Hailakandi district. It is surrounded by Hailakandi tehsil towards east and Badarpur tehsil towards north. Situated on the foothills of Saraspur hills under Chhatachura range and one of the large water bodies of Assam---Sonbil, is 2 K.M. away from its western border. The village Bhairab Nagar is composed of four revenue villages i.e., Bhairab Nagar Part-I, Part-II, Part-III and Part-IV.
Administrative Units :
District : Karimganj
District Head Quarter : Karimganj
Police station : Ramkrishna Nagar
Police Outpost : Bhairab Nagar
Block Office : Ramkrishna Nagar
Sub Post Office : Bhairab Nagar (Under Laksmisahar Post Office).
Postal Index Number (PIN) : of788152
Gaon Panchayat : Bhairab Nagar
Assembly Constituency : Ratabari (S.C.Reserved) Assembly Constituency
Parliamentary Constituency : Karimganj (S.C.Reserved) Parliamentary Consyituency
Schools In Bhairab Nagar : Bhairab Nagar has number of L.P. Schools, one Saraswati Vidyaniketan ,Bhairab Nagar M.V. School and one Bhairab Nagar High School which cater to the need of the local people. But they are not sufficiently equipped. So many students go to nearby Hailakandi town for better education.
Agriculture : Agriculture and fishery are the main occupations of the people. Apart from rice, Bhairab Nagar produces large quantities of summer and winter fruits and vegetables, fish and rubber.
Government Offices : A few Government Offices namely Bhairab Nagar Police Outpost, Bhairab Nagar Sub Post Office, Bhairab Nagar Goan Panchayet Office, Anandapur Cooperative Society Ltd. Office, Cachar Gramin Bank, Bhairab Nagar Branch, Bhairab Nagar Primary Health Centre etc are also situated here.
Mandir In Bhairab Nagar : Bhairab is the most revered God of Bhairab Nagar. The name Bhairab Nagar itself is derived from the God Bhairab and the famous Bhairab Temple is also situated here.
Market : Bhairab Nagar Timukha is the market place of the village.
Bus Stop : Bhairab Nagar Timukha is the bus stop of the area. Travellers can avail buses, cabs, auto rickshaws from here to various locations, i.e., Hailakandi, Karimganj, Badarpur, Silchar etc.
Nearest Town : Hailakandi, the district headquarter of Hailakandi district is the nearest town which is 9 kms. from the village.
Nearest Railway Station : Hailakandi Railway Station is the nearest railway station.
Nearest Schools, Colleges and University : Apart from various renowned schools of Hailakandi town, Hailakandi S.S. College, Hailakandi Women's College, Silchar Medical College, NIIT Silchar,Barak Valley Engineering College, Mahakal, Karimganj and Assam University, Silchar etc are the nearest.
Karimganj town is linked via both rail and road transport with the rest of India. Karimganj town is a railway junction and broad gauge lines connecting Tripura with Assam pass through this station. Badarpur railway station is the biggest junction of the district. The most popular mode of passenger transport, however, is by road. A good number of buses - mostly night services - ply between Karimganj and Guwahati daily. Direct long distance bus services are also available to Shillong, Agartala, Aizawl and so on. Communication with Silchar, Badarpur, Patharkandi and other nearby places is also mainly dependent on road transport, with services by all sorts of light and heavy vehicles available at frequent intervals. The nearest airport is Kumbhirgram (85 km) near Silchar - the headquarters of the adjacent district of Cachar. Karimganj town is also an important river port and has seasonal cargo and freight transport links with Kolkata through river ways via Bangladesh.
Sutarkandi international border crossingEdit
According to the 2011 census Karimganj district has a population of 1,217,002, roughly equal to the nation of Bahrain or the US state of New Hampshire. This gives it a ranking of 392nd in India (out of a total of 640). The district has a population density of 673 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,740/sq mi) . Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 20.74%. Karimganj has a sex ratio of 961 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 79.72%.
Muslims 527,214 form a slight majority in the district, at 52.3% of the population, with Hindus accounting for 47% according to the 2001 census.
Karimganj is one of several districts in Assam where Sylheti is spoken by the majority of the population, as also in some other districts such as Cachar, Barpeta, Halaikandi, Dhubri and Goalpara. Bengali is the official language in Karimganj along with the other two districts of Barak valley such as Hailakandi and Cachar. The Sylheti dialect that is used in Karimganj is known as Barak Sylheti. Meitei is spoken by the minority Bishnupriya and Meitei communities. There are also a small tribal communities like Hrangkhol, Kuki, Khasi, Tripuri and Sakachep.
- Chhatachura Range: Originating from the south-eastern border of the district of Karimganj, Chhatachura vary forms the district’s border within the eastern side aspect with Hailakandi District. Chhatachura Peak at an altitude of 2087 feet is that the highest point. Saraspur is that the middle section and it’s at one thousand feet high.
- Badarpurghat: Badarpurghat is a historic fort built by the Mughals and later repaired by the British after damaging it during the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, situated at Badarpur Ghat, the bank of the Rio Singhla, and is only 25 kilometres away from Karimganj town.
- Malegarh Crematorium of Sepoy Mutiny Soldiers: - Malegarh Crematorium is considered as a historic place. A sad but brave reminder of past where the soldiers who lost their lives during the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny were cremated. The year 1857 saw the rise of soldiers against British and during the revolt, more than 50 soldiers sacrificed their lives. They were cremated at the place named Malegarh in the district of Karimganj. It was a place of the district Sylhet of Bangladesh earlier before the independence of India.
- Son Beel: The place Son Beel is very famous as the 2nd largest wetland in the World as well as largest in Asia, after south american Pantanal and located in Karbi-anglong, Dima haso, hojai and Karimganj in central Assam, as well as Sylhet & Chittagong in Bangladesh. The presence of the hills at the east and west of Son Beel, creates a picturesque landscape. The size of this wetland draws a significant amount of tourists’ attraction. Rio Shingla River' passes through this Beel which Shingla bifurcates into two different rivers -Rio Kakra and Kochua. There is another wetland near Son beel named as Rata beel.
- Akbarpur: Indian government established an agriculture research center at Akbarpur to produce the grains of improved quality. The institute provides the training on the agriculture and acts as a helping hand for the farmers.
- Suterkandi: Suterkandi is famous for having an international trade centre. Moreover, there is an international border of India and Bangladesh too. India exports the materials like coal, fruits and Silicon to Bangladesh through this space.
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