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■— HTT^i^* . ^IW^^ 




{Reprinted from the Report on the Administration of the Province of Assam 
for the year 1892-93, and published by authority.) 



Price—One Rupee. 

''-'~- ^ - -"^- 




(Raprinted from the Report on the Administration of the Province of Assam 
for the year i8g2-gj, and published by authority.) 



Price— One Rupee. 










Section 1. Area and Boundaries, and 

Physical Features ... 1 

„ 2. Geological Features ... 10 

,, 3. Climate ... 18 

„ 4. Chief Staples ... 2a_ 

„ 5. Commercial Staples ... 31 

,, 6. Manufactures ... 44 

„ 7. Trade and Commerce .,. 47 

,, 8. Mines and Minerals ... 53 



Section 1. Assam Proper ■ ... 62 

„ 2. Godlp5ra ... 75 

„ 3. Cachar ... 77 

„ 4. Sylhet and Jaintia ... 80 

„ 5. The Hill Districts ... 82 

„ 6. Formation of the Chief 

Commissionership ... 97 


Bection 1. General Administrative 

System and StaflE ,.. 99 

„ 2. Legislative Authority ... 110 

„ 3. Education ... 112 

„ 4. Immigration and Labour 

Inspection ... ... 120 


Section 5. Public Works ... 133 

„ G. Local Self-Government.. 138 
„ 7. Finance ... ... 144 



Section 1. Land Tenures ... 154 

„ 2. Waste Land Tenures ... 167 

,, 3. System of Survey and 

Settlement ... 172 



Civil Divisions of British Territory' 181 


Details of the Last Census ... 186 



Frontier Relations and Feudatory 





Physical and Political Geography. 


Physical Features of the Country, Area, Climate, and Chief 




1. The Province of Assam lies on tlie north-east border of 

Bengal, on the extreme frontier of the Indian ^^ 

Area and boundaries. . ^ 7 

Empire, with Bhutan and Thibet beyond it Bo7,ndalies 
on the north, and Burma and Manipur on the east. It comprises p.""*^ 
the whole of the valley of the Brahmaputra down to the point Features. 
where that river, emero-inor on the Benf^^al delta, takes a sudden 
southward curve, and the greater portion of the valley of the 
Surma, nearly to the junction of that stream with the great estuary 
of the Me^ma, too^ether with the intervening? rancre of hills which 
forms the watershed between them. It lies between latitude 28° 18^ 
and 23° 1 5' North, and longitude 89° 46' and 97° 4' East, and contains 
an area of 49,004 square miles, of which 28,755 square miles are 
plain and 20,249 square miles are hilly country.* The immediate 
boundaries of the province are, on the north Independent Bhutan, 
a tract inhabited by Bhutias under the direct Government of Lhassa, 

« These figures represent the area of the plains and hill districts, respectively, the 
North Cachar subdivision being treated for this purpose as a hill district. The real 
plains area is somewhat greater, as a portion of the Garo Hills district (473 square n)iles) 
is plain and so also a small part of the Naga and the KhAsi and Jaintia Hills districts. 
On the other hand, it must be remembered that the area classed above as plain includes 
the Mikir Hills in Nowgong, and also some low ranges of hills in the south of the Cachar 
and Sj'lhet districts. 

The North Lushui Hills are not included in these figures, as, although that tract of 
country is now practically part of Assam, it has not yet been actually formed intoa district 
and incorporated in the ordinary adiniuistratiun of the province. An account of this 
tract and of its occupation will be found in Chapter VII. 



Section i. knowii as Towang, and a range of sub-Himalaj^an hills, inhabited, 
Ai^nd first by two small races of Blmtia origin, who are believed to be 

^""'atd'" independent, and further eastwards by the savage tribes of Akas, 
Physical Daflas, Miris, Abors, and Mislnnis ; on the north-east the Mishmi 

Features. j 7 ? -yt n 

Hills, which sweep round the head of the Brahmaputra Valley > 
(•n the east the Pdtkoi range, the intervening ranges, inhabited 
clr.efly by -".arious tribes of Niigas, and the Native State of Mani- 
pur ; on the south the Lushai Hills, Hill Tippera, and the Bengal 
district of Tippera ; on the west the Bengal districts of Mymensingh 
and Eangpur, and the Native State of Kuch Bihar, 

2. Assam Proper, or the valley of the Brahmaputra, is an 
alluvial plain, about 450 miles in length, with 
Brahmaputra Valley. ^^ average breadth of about 50 miles, lying 
almost east and west in its lower portion, but in its upper half 
trendino- somewhat to the north-east. To the north is the main 
chain- of the Himalayas, the lower ranges of which rise abruptly 
from the plain ; to the south is the great elevated plateau, or 
succession of plateaux, known as the Assam Eange, much broken 
at its eastern and western extremities and along its northern face, 
but in its central portion, from the eastern border of the Gdro 
Hills to the watershed of the Dhansiri, a region of table land 
and rolling uplands. The various portions of this range are called 
by the names of the tribes who inhabit them, — the Gdro, the 
Khdsi, the Jaintia, the North Cacliar, and the Ndga Hills. At 
several points on the southern side of the valley the hills of the 
Assam Eange abut on the river, and at GoAlpdra, Gaulidti, and 
Tezpur it has spurs belonging to this group on the north, as well 
as on the south bank. The broadest part of the valley is 
where the river divides the districts of Sibsdgar and Lakhimpur, 
below wdiich the isolated block of the Mikir Hills to the south (a 
mass of mountains cut off from the main Assam Eange by the 
valleys of the Dhansiri, Ldngpher, and Jamuna rivers), and the pro- 
jecting Rroup of the Dafla Hills to the north suddenly contract it. 
Forty miles lower down it widens out, but at the lower end of the 
Nowgong district it is again encroached upon by the Khdsi Hills, 
among the spurs of which the river makes its way in front of the 


station of Gaulidti, and it is almost completely shut in just to the SEc;Tio>f i. 
west of that town, below the temple-crowned hill of Nildchal or Area and 
Kamdkhyil, where the stream is not 1,000 yards broad. Beyond ^'"'^f^Y''' 
this point the hills recede again, and the mountains do not p'j^i][lfg 
the Brahmaputra until the station of GotUpara, situated on a spur 
of the Garo Hills, is reached. Here, at the confluence of the IManas 
and between the rocks of Jogighopa and Pagla Tek, is the 
*' ^^^^ Q^ A ssam," to the east of which Assamese is spoken, and 
to the west of it Bengali. Beyond this point the valley again 
widens, and at Dhubri opens out into the great delta ofjBengal. 
3. Throughout its course the Brahmaputra receives a vast 
number of affluents, great and small, from 
The Brahmaputra ami ^|^^ i^ijjg ^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^ g^^d south. The greater 

Its amuerits. o 

of the northern streams are snow-fed, while 
those from the south (except the Dihing) depend upon the annual 
rains for their volume, and shrink to small dimensions in the dry 
season. On the north the chief tributaries of the Brahmaputra 
are the Dibong, Dihong, Subausi'ri, Bhoroli, Bornadi, and Manc4s ; 
on the south the greater affluents are the new and old Dihings, the 
Disang, the Disoi, and the Dhansiri. A short distance below the 
junction of the last named a considerable body of water separates 
itself from the Brahmaputra, and, under the name of the Kallang, 
goes on a tortuous course through the Nowgong district, rejoining 
the main stream about 10 miles above Gauhdti. The Kallang 
receives, in the Kopili, the whole drainage of the North Cachar 
and the Jaintia Hills, besides several minor streams from the Kht'isi 
Hills. Below Gauhdti, the Kulsi and the Jinjiram are the chief 
southern affluents of the Brahmaputra. 

The Dihong, which emerges from the Himalayas through tlie 
hills inhabited by the Abors, has been proved by Mr. Needham to 
be the same stream as the Sanpo, the eastward course of whicli, 
along the north of the great Himalayan barrier, has been traced 
by explorers to a point where it turns southwards into the range. 
The Brahmaputra itself, so far as is known, has but a short course 
beyond the limits of British territory, and above Sadiya is far 

inferior in volume to the Dihong. 



Section i. Except at the points already mentioned, ■where hills impinge 

Area and iipon the Bralimaputra, the river flows between sandy banks, 

and which are subject to constant changes for a breadth of about 6 

Physical j-^-^jjgg qj^ either side of the stream. Within this belt there is no 


permanent cultivation, nor any habitation but temporary huts 
erected by people who grow mustard on the chur lands during the 
cold weather. Beyond, the level of the alluvium rises, and tillage 
and population take the place of sandy flats covered with long 
grass. Little of this is seen from the river, and the traveller up 
the Brahmaputra receives the impression that the country is a 
wilderness untenanted by man, except at the few points where, 
rock giving permanency to the channel, towns and villages have 
been established along the stream. These points are Dliubri, the 
capital of the Goalpdra district, Godlptira, GauhAti, the capital of 
Kdmrup, Tezpur, the capital of Darrang, Koliabar, the port for 
Nowgong, from which it is distant 32 miles, and Biswanath, in the 
Darrang district. Between the last named place and Sadiya, close 
to the point where the river emerg£s from the hills, a distance of 
about 200 miles, there is no tov;n or large village on the banks, 
Golaghat being 20 miles, Jorhiit 10, Sibsdgar 8, and Dibrugarh 5, 
away from the cold-weather channel. Proceeding inland from the 
belt just described, through which the river flows, one fine's a 
country consisting mainly of alluvial flats, much of which is un- 
tilled and covered with long grass, and in the eastern portion of 
the valley with forest, but much also is under cultivation. The 
most thickly populated part of the valley is North Kamrup ; the 
most thinly, Darrang, west of Tezpur, Lakhimpur, north of the 
Brahmaputra, and the forests in the extreme east and south of the 
latter district. To the peopled belt on either side of the valley 
succeeds another where population again falls off, and extensive 
forests and grass savannahs reach to the foot of the hills on the 
north and south. The Brahmaputra is navigable by large steamers 
as far as Dibrugarh throughout the year, and by smaller vessels as 
far as Sadiya. Many of its affluents are also navigable in the rains 
by steamers, and at all seasons by boats of small burthen. 

4. The southern, or Surma, valley, which constitutes the second 



main division of the province, and comprises the two districts Section r. 
The Sunna Vail.y. °^ Cachar and Sylliet, presents many points A^and 

of contrast with that of the Brahmaputra ^'^"'"'r'" 
It IS much smalJer in extent, covering only 7,886 sc^uare miles, P'^y^icni 
against 20,8G9 m the latter. This,' however, excludes a portion 
of it which lies south of the Garo Hills and east of the old Brahma- 
putra, and which, though geographically a part of the Surma 
Valley, is not included in the Province of Assam, but forms part 
of the Bengal district of Mymensingh. Its mean elevation above 
sea level is much lower, the cold-weather zero of the Surma at 
Sylhet being only 22-7 feet above the sea, while that of the 
Brahmaputra at Gauhati is 148*36 feet. The course of the nume- 
rous rivers which traverse it is thus exceedingly sluggish, while 
the stream of the Brahmaputra is swift. While the latter river 
hurries rapidly along, through a waste of sandy churs, making and 
unmaking its banks year by year, the rivers of the Surma Valley 
find their way to the great estuary of the Megna by extremely 
tortuous channels, the banks of which, reinforced by the annual 
deposition of silt, are the highest ground in the alluvial area, 
and as such are the most populous and best cultivated portions. 
To the north of the valley stands the steep face of the Khasi and 
Jaintia Hills, the plateau of which rises very abruptly from the 
plain to a height of 4,000 feet, the table land presenting, when 
seen from Sylhet, an almost level line. Near the eastern boundary 
of Sylhet, the plateau recedes into the interior of the hills, and 
a new barrier, the angular and serrated range of the Barail, 
or " Great Dyke," takes its place as the northern boundary of 
the valley. This range gradually increases in height and pre- 
cipitous character as one proceeds eastwards, and at the eastern 
extremity of Cachar takes a curve to the north-east, thereafter 
forming the main axis of the Ndga Hills, and eventually merging 
in the Pdtkoi. To the east the valley is shut in by the mountains 
of Manipur, a continuation of the succession of parallel ridges, lying 
north and south, into which the Arrakan Yoma range divides 
as it approaches the Himalayas. On the south also these parallel 
ridges extend for some distance into the alluvial plain, gradually 


Section i. retreating as the river emerges from Cacliar into Sylliet, but still 
Ar7a~Ind preserving their uniform meridional direction, until the Bengal 
Boundaries ^T^i^^^.^^^ ^f Tippera is readied. 

ana ^ ^ 

Physical Tlirougliout tliis great alluvial plain, except in the western 

portion adjoining Mymensingh, the surface is broken by frequent 
groups of isolated hills of small height, called tilas. These may 
be regarded as continuations below the alluvium of the southern 
rano-es of Tippera and the Lushai Hills. The most notable are 
the groups about Chhatak and north of Sylliet, and the Chiknagul 
hills in Jaintia. In Cachar, the ridges from the south touch the 
Surma, or Bardk, at Badarpur and at the northern end of the Tilain 
ran^e, and many isolated hills rise throughout that district, chiefly 
to the south of the river. Except where the tilas and the southern 
rano-es project, the whole valley is a vast deltaic expanse, covered 
with a perplexing network of sluggish streams, and liable to deep in the rains. The highest ground is on the river banks, 
from which the surface slopes backward into great hollows, 
called haurs, all of which are lakes, some of great extent, in the 
rains, and in the greater of which water lies in some part through- 
out the cold season. In the deeply-flooded but populous country 
to the west, the villages are built on artificially-raised sites along the 
river margins, and the ground which is thus obtained is so precious 
that the houses are crowded together in a manner very unhke the 
straggling aspect of a village in Assam. 

5. The Surma, or Barak, river rises in the Bardil range to the 
north of Manipur. Its sources are among the 

The Surma river. 

southern spurs or the great mountain mass 
called Jiipvo, on the northern slopes of which are situated the most 
powerful villages of the Anganii Ndgas. Thence its course is 
south, with a slight westerly bearing, among the Manipur hills, 
where it receives numerous tributaries befoi^e entering British 
territory. At Tipaimukh, the trij unction point of Manipur, Cachar, 
and the Lushai Hills, it turns sharply to the north, and, after, 
emer^in"- from the Bhuban range near Lakhipur, takes a very 
tortuous course, with a generally westward direction, through, 
the district. A short distance below Badarpur, on the western 



boundary of Cacliar, it divides into two branches, the northern of Section t. 
which is known as the Surma, and (lows westwards, more or less, ArTT^nd 
closely under the Khtisi Hills, having on its banks the important Boundaries 
centres of Sylhet and Chhdtak, till it turns southwards at Sundm- Physical 
ganj ; the southern, called at first the Kusiara, has a south-westerly 
direction, and near the confluence of the Manu river from the 
south again divides into two branches, the southern of which 
reassumes the original name of the whole river, Barak, and, 
passing by the towns of Nabiganj and Habiganj, rejoins the Surma 
a short distance to the west of the latter place. The other arm 
called first the Bibidna and afterwards the Kalni, also rejoins the 
Surma, north of the confluence of the Barak, at Abidabad. 

The chief affluents of the Surma on the north, after it enters 
British territory, are the Jiri and Jatinga from the North Cachar 
Hills, the Luba, Hari, Piytiin, Bogapdni, and Jadukata, from the 
Jaintia and Khasi Hills, and the Maheshkali from the Gc4ro Hills. 
On the south it receives the Sonai, Dhaleswari, and Katakhal from 
the Lusliai Hills, and (in its southern branch, tlie Kusiara-Banik) 
the Langai, Juri, Manu, and Khwdhi from the Tippera Hills. At 
Bhairab Bc4zar, in Mymensingh, 20 miles below the Sylhet 
frontier at Lakhai, it unites with the old Brahmaputra, and 
becomes known thenceforward as the Megna. The Surma is 
navigable by steamers as far as Silchar in the rains ; in the cold 
weather, however, these vessels do not ascend above Chhatak 
on the northern and Fenchuganj on the southern branch. Boats 
of considerable burthen traverse the whole river system as far 
as Banskandi, east of Silchar, throughout the year, and in the 
rains are the most usual vehicle of traffic. 

6. The hilly tracts included in the Province of Assam consist 

The Hill tracts. ^^ ^^® Assam Eange, which is interposed 

The Assam Range. between the BrahmajDutra and Surma Valleys, 

the North Lushai Hills, and the ridges, o-ene- 

rally of low elevation, w^hich run northward from Hill Tippera 

and the Lushai Hills into the Surma Valley. No part of the 

Himalayas fall within British territory. These hilly tracts have 

already been summarily described. The remarkable plateau of 



Section i. tlie Gdro-Khdsi-Nortli-Cacliar Hills, wliicli, with the sharply- 
Area and seiTated range of the BarAil and its spurs, constitutes the Assam 

^"^'^and^^^ Eange, is joined at its eastern extremity by the Pdtkoi to the 
Physical Himalayan system, and by the mountains of Manipur to the Arra- 
kan Yoma. At its western end, in the Gdro Hills, it attains an 
elevation of more than 4,G00 feet in the peak of Nokrek, above 
Tura, but falls again before the Khdsi boundary is reached. The 
highest points of the Khdsi- Jaintia table land are the Shillong Peak, 
6,450 feet, the Dincryei, 6,077, Kdbleng, 6,283, and Suer, 6,300 ; 
but these are only the most elevated portions of a plateau, hardly 
any portion of which falls below 6,000 feet, and which is all 
inhabited and cultivated. To the east the level again falls, the 
hin-hest summits not much exceedingr 5,000 feet in the Jaintia Hills, 
and considerably less in the Cacliar Hills north of the Barail. 
The latter range, commencing on the south-east margin of the 
Khdsi-Jaintia plateau, where the Hari river issues from the hills, 
rises by sudden leaps to a considerable height, and among the 
hills bordering the Jatinga Valley summits of from 5,000 to 6,000 
feet are found. The range then curves north-eastwards, and 
attains a still greater height, where it forms the boundary between 
the Naga Hills district and the State of Manipur. Here the 
greatest elevation (in British territory) is reached by the peak 
of Jdpvo, which is a little less than 10,000 feet above the sea. 
To the north-east of this point the mountain system of the 13arail 
is broken up, by the influence of the meridional axis of elevation 
prolonged from the Arrakan Yoma, into a mass of ranges having 
a general north-east and south-west direction until the Piitkoi 
is reached. The highest points in this portion are from 8,0C0 to 
9,000 feet. Snow is frequent on Jdpvo and in its neighbourhood, 
but is not known further west. It is also seen to cover the hills 
lying about the upper course of the Hilling as far as the Pdtkoi, 
a country as yet insufficiently explored. 

' Between the main axis of the Assam Eange and the valley of 
the Brahmaputra the average height of the hills varies considerabl}^ 
The country is deeply cut into by river channels, and is covered 
with dense forest. The isolated block of hills already referred 


to, lyino- to the east of Nowgonf^, called the Mikir-Kensilia Hills, SEcnoji i. 
is cut ofi from the main range by low-lying valleys, and has Area and 
within it summits attaining a height of 4,000 feet. Its interior ""anT^" 
is little known, the population is very sparse, and the country is f^'//,'f^gj 
densely wooded. The hills lying south of Sibsdgar and Lakhimpur, 
and peopled for the most part by the tribes of Niigas which have 
not yet been brought under British administration, consist of 
small broken ranges, running generally north-east and south-west, 
or having irregular spurs leading down into the plains, usually 
steep on the northern side, with a more gradual slope on the 
south. The greater part of this tract (in which very extensive 
and valuable seams of coal exist) is uncultivated and forest-clad, 
the outer ranges being chiefly uninhabited. 

On the southern face the Gdro and Khdsi Hills rise very 
abruptly from the plains, and present a succession of precipitous 
faces, into which the rivers, fed by the enormous rainfall of this 
region, have cut deep gorges as they issue upon the swamps of 
North Sylhet. The level line forming the horizon of the plateau 
is not broken until the BarAil is reached, where the contour 
becomes rugored and irreo^ular, thout^h the sides are still preci- 
pitous. In the Gdro Hills, the lower portions of the Khasi and^ 
Jaintia Hills and the Barail range, the slopes are forest-clad. In 
the upper and central plateau of the Khdsi Hills, and the greater 
portion of North Cachar, the landscape is one of undulating grass}^ 
hills, with occasional groves of pine and oak. It is believed that^ 
the forests here have been destroyed or kept down by the custom 
of annually burning, either for pasture or for cultivation, the 
lono' crrass with which the surface is covered. Where fires are 
excluded, thick forests of young pine and mixed leafy trees spring 

7. The LjishaiHills, which divide Assam from Burma, consist 
of sandstones and shales of tertiary age 

The southern hills. _ , p i • i 

thrown into long folds, the axes ot which run 
a nearly north and south direction. From the general character 
of the deposits, it seems probable that they were laid down in the 
delta and estuary of an immense river issuing from the Himalayas, 



Section 2. to the north-east of Assam durmg tertiary tmies, and flowmg clue 
Geological south through the country now occupied by the Ndga and the 
Lushai Hills. The hills are for the most part covered with dense 
r bamboo jungle and rank undergrowth, but in the eastern portion, 
\ owing probably to a smaller rainfall, open grass-covered slopes 
are found, with groves of oak and pine interspersed with rhodo- 
dendrons. These hihs are inhabited by the Lushais and cognate 
tribes, but the population is extremely scanty. The outlying 
slopes in the Cachar district constitute a great forest reserve ; 
in Sylhet they are now being largely opened out for the growth 
of tea. Till lately, however, they have been left to be roamed 
over by Tipperas and Kukis, whose annual jhums were the only 
cultivation which they supported. 


8. The Province of Assam contains within its boundaries, as 
Ts. . . - ^, , . , already mentioned, two ffreat alluvial plains. 

Division of tlie subject. *^ ' o i ' 

separated by a central mass of mountains 
called the Assam Range, and further defined, — the Brahmaputra 
Valley by the Himalayas on the north, and the Surma Valley by 
the meridional ranges, the prolongation of the Arrakan hill system, 
on the south. To the east of both valleys is the great extension 
of the mountain system of Northern Burma, which eventually 
unites with the Himalayas in the Putkoi. The geology of this 
region, therefore, falls apart into that of the hill tracts, which are 
being denuded, and of the alluvial plains, which are being formed 
by the same process. 

9. Of the Himalayan system which lies to the north of the 
„,,,,. , Brahmaputra Valley we know very little. 

Such observers as have explored it have been 
unable to penetrate further than the exterior zone. In this, how- 
ever, are found the same characteristic formations as distinguish 
the sub-Himalayan rocks throughout their whole length from the 
Indus to the eastern limit of observation. These rocks consist of 
great thicknesses of soft massive sandstones, of tertiary age and 
fresh-water origin, the dip of which is towards the interior zone of 


metamorpliic rocks. In tlie western portion of the range, among Section 2. 
the Bliutan hills, it is believed that a gap exists in the.^^e sub-Hima- Ce'^kal 
layan sandstones, or, at any rate, that the outer zone of rocks found ^'''*^"''«- 
elsewhere along tlie chain, and known as the Siwaliks, is wantin^r ; 
but further east, in the Dafla hills, and in the Abor mountains north 
of Dibrugarh, there are the usual two well-marked ranges of sub- 
Himalayan hills, with an intervening Dun. As in the Siwaliks, 
nests and ^strings of lignite are frequently found in these rocks, 
and have given rise to expectations, proved on enquiry to be base- 
less, that useful coal might be discovered in them. 

10. Of the rocks which close in the valley on the east nothing 
^, is known, except that limestone is found 

Ihe eastern range. 

among them. This occurs in the shape of 
boulders and pebbles in the river-beds east of Sadiya, whence it is 
conveyed by boat down the Brahmaputra, and forms almost the 
sole lime-supply of Upper Assam.* 

11. The Assam Eange, which divides the Brahmaputra and 
„, . ^ Surma Valleys, is separated by well-marked 

The Assam Range. '' ^. *^ , 

physical and geological features into two 
great regions, the boundary between which follows the line of the 
Dhansiri Valley and the Barail range to the point where the latter 
.commences at the south-eastern corner of the Jaintia Hills. The /, 
f mountains to the west of this boundary, which include the Garo, 
the Khasi, the Jaintia, and the Mikir Hills, with so much of North 
Cachar as lies north and west of the BarAil, have been described by 
geologists under the name of the Shillongj^laieau. '..The area to the ^ ^ 
east of this boundary, including tlie""^ariiil, the ranges of Manipur, 
and the Naga Hills, is orographically a part of the Burmese 
mountain system, and of a widely different geological character. 

12. The Shillong plateau consists of a great mass of gneis§, 

bare on the northern border, where it is 

I. The Shillong plateau. » , i ^ 

broken into hills, for the most part low and 

♦ It is, however, not obtainable in large quantities at reniunerative ratep, and the 
demand of the Assam- Bengal Railway, now under constrnclion, for limestone in the 
Nowgong and Kamn'ip districts are boing^met from the quarries on the southern face 
of the Khasi Hills, from which the stone is brought by river, vid Chhatak and Karain- 
ganj, to Gauhdti. 

C 2 


Section 2. ver}'- irregular in outline, with numerous outliers in the Lower 
Geological Assam Valley, even close up to the Himalayas. In the central 
eatuyes. j-ggj^^-^ ^]^q gi-^eiss is covered by transition or sub-metamorphic 
rocks, consisting of a strong band of quartzites overlaying a mass 
of earthy giihists. In the very centre of the range, where the 
table land attains its highest elevation, great masses of intrusive 
diorite and granite occur ; and the latter is found, in dykes pierc- 
ing the gneiss and sub-metamorphic series, throughout the southern 
half to the boundary of the plains. To the south, in contact with 
the gneiss and sub-metamorphics, is a great volcanic outburst of 
trap, which is stratified, and is brought to the surface with the 
general rise of elevation along the face of the hills between Sheila 
and Thariaghat south of Cherrapunji : this has been described 
as the " Sylhet trap." South of the main axis of this m.etamorphic 
and volcanic mass, and almost at the edge of the central intrusive 
dykes of granite and diorile, fossiliferous strata commence belong- 
) ing to" two well-defined series; (1) the cretaceous, and (2) the 
• nummulitic. On their northern margin both rest conformably 
on the metamorphics, and rapidly increase in thickness as one 
proceeds southwards. (Jn the south the whole series bends down- 
wards in a monoclinal flexure, and south of Cherrapunji disappears 
below the alluvium of the Surma Valle}''. 

The, cretaceous series, where last seen, occupies about 1,500 
feet between the Sylhet trap and the nummulitic limestone ; it 
varies much in the character of the deposits, consisting chiefly 
of sandstones, locally massive, coarse, earthy, or ochreous, with 
intervening dark and pale sliales and some layers of flaky, earthy 
lirngstone. The series includes several beds of coal, of which the 
best known are the Maobehlarkar * coal, a few miles south of 
Mauphlang, whence the station of Shillong is supplied, the exten- 
sive and valuable coal-field of Darrangiri, on the Someswari river 
in the Garo Hills, and some coal close to the level of the plain at 
the debouchure of the Jadukata river near Laur in Sylhet ; another 
outcrop to the west of the last mentioned, on the Maheshkhdli 
river in the Garo Hills, is very possibly continuous with the latter, 

• Described in " Records of the Geological Survey of India," Volume VIII, page 86. 


and, if so, promises to be of great value. An isolated specimen section a. 
of the same series is found on the Ntimbar stream, on the extreme ^ "; — : , 

^ ^ ' Geological 

eastern margin of the Shillong plateau, in the Mikir Hills, a few Features. 
miles east of Borpathdr. This cretaceous coal is brown in colour, 
compact, splintery, with a conchoidal fracture, and contains 
numerous specks and small nests of fossil resin. 

The nummulitic series, which overlies the cretaceous, varies 
greatly in thickness in different parts of the range. In the Gdro 
Hills west of the Someswari it is insignificant ; in the Khc4si Hills 
it is much more massive. " Below Cherrapunji it has a thickness 
of 900 feet in the Tharia river, consisting of alternating strata of 
compact limestones and sandstones. It is at the exposure of these 
rocks on their downward dip from the edge of the plateau that 
are situated the extensive liniestone quarries of the Khasi Hills, 
whence Eastern Bengal is supplied with lime of the best quality. 
On the level of the plateau above the same strata are found, but 
have undergone extensive denudation owing to the solubility of 
the limestone rock in water and the enormous rainfall of that 
region. In the whole of the southern face of these hills are found 
numerous caves and underground watercourses due to this 
cause ; and on the plateau of Cherrapunji, while the nummulitic 
series survives in the rocks on which the Khasi villacre is built. 
and in the ridge to the west of the old station, the site of the 
station itself has been swept perfectly clear of it, with the 
exception of a few rounded hills composed of tumbled 
fragments of the harder sandstones which alternated with the 
calcareous beds. 

Before the uptlwust of the Bardil range the nummulitic beds, 
like the other members of the series, retire in a north-easterly 
direction, and their eastern limit has not been traced satis- 

This series also includes coal-beds, several of which have been 
worked. The best known are the Cherra mines, in a seam situated 
in the nummulitic mass to the west of the station, and the Laka- 
dong mines in the Jaintia Hills. The nummulitic coal is black, 
bright, with a cuboidal fracture, and very bituminous. 


Section- 2. ^3, There is evidence that, as the niTmmulitic series overlies 
Geological the cretaceous, the former was in its turn 

Features. II. Banal range. ^' r x ^ ', ^ • x 

/ overlain (perhaps only on its outer mari>in) 

by a third, or upper tertiary, series. These rocks have been 
traced from the western margin of the Garo Hills, along their 
southern face (where, south of the Someswari, the tertiary zone 
is 14 miles wide), and beneath the scarp of the Kliasi Hills, where 
they have been almost entirely removed from the plateau by denu- 
dation. East of Jaintiapur the soft massive greenish sandstones 
of this formation appear again, in force, and they rise rapidly from 
this point into the Barail range. To this series, apparently, belong 
also the tilas of the Sylhet and Cachar plain, and the low merid- 
ional ranges of the Tippera and the Lushai Hills, which run up into 
it on the south ; and the valley of Cachar seems to be excavated 
out of the broken ground where these two conflicting strikes, the 
west-east of the Bardil, and the south-north of the southern ridges, 
meet. West of Cachar, the Barail curves north-eastwards, and 
the southern ranges take the same direction, till eventually the 
two lines are found in confluence. 

Of this second great division of the Assam Eange we know some- 
thing of the north-western face, looking down upon the Sibsagar 
and Dibrugarh plains, but of the interior very little. A reconnois- 
sance was made in the cold weather of 1881-82 through the eastern 
and northern portions of Manipur and the district of the Naga Hills, 
which gave some information regarding the rocks of these regions. 

The whole of the western portion of this division of the Assam 
• Eange, from the rise of the Bardil in south-eastern Ja'intia to the 
peak of Jdpvo in the neighbourhood of Kohima, would appear 
to be composed of the same tertiary sandstones as have already 
been mentioned ; and the same rocks seem to be continued 
along the south-eastern margin of the Brahmaputra Valley in 
Sibsagar and Lakhimpur. To these succeed a series of hard 
sandstones, slates, and shales, with quartzose beds, supposed to be 
identical with the " axials " of the Northern Arrakan group. 
Still further east is a considerable trappian intrusion, consisting 
of serpentine dykes running north and south, identical in 


Section 2. 

composition with those of Burma. Of the Patkoi [itself, and of 
the junction between it and the Himalayas in the Mishmi Hills 

T . . I, . ' Geological 

we have at present no mtormation. Features. 

14. The north-western face of this region, lying alon"- the 
Cuiii fielclH of Upper I^ibrugarh and Sibsagar districts, contains 
^'''""- several very important coal-fields, which 

constitute the chief mineral resource of the province. The rocks in 
which the coal measures occur are, with one exception, situated to 
the south-west of a great fault, in some places a short distance 
within the hills, and in others constituting their escarpment towards 
the plains, which is conjectured to have a throw of from 10,000 to 
15,000 feet. They consist of an enormous thickness of sandstones 
the npper series of which are topped by conglomerates and clays 
containing fossil wood ; the coal measures have a thickness of 
some 2,000 feet, and are succeeded by fine hard sandstones 
overlying splintery gray shales, several thousand feet thick. The 
exception is the Jaipur field, in the Tipam hills in the southern corner 
of the Dibrugarh district, which is north of the fault. Alono- the 
Buri Dihing, and near the exit from the hills of the Dikhu, Safrai, 
Jhanzi, and Disoi rivers, the coal measures are exposed. The 
greatest of the fields is that of Makum, on the Dihino- ; here there 
is a seam 100 feet thick, containing at least 75 feet of sohd coal 
and some very large seams have been traced for more than a mile 
without diminution. 

The age of these important and extensive coal measures is 
still uncertain. The coal is of superior quality, and not unhke 
the nummulitic coal of the Khasi Hills, though quite different 
from the cretaceous coal of the same region ; but the place of the 
coal in the series where it occurs in Upper Assam renders it ex- 
tremely difficult to correlate it with the nummuHtic coal of Cherra 
and Lakadong. It is possible that it belongs to the third series, 
already noticed, along the southern face of the Shillong plateau ; 
but the associated rocks have not as yet yielded any fossils by 
which their relations can be studied.* 

• " Records of tho Geological Survey of India," Volume XV, page 68. 


Section 2. 15 Turnuifr now to tlie alluvium, the marked difference 
G ololcal ^^ ^^® physical geography of the Brahmaputra 

Features. ^ ' and Surma Valleys, both of which belong 

to the i^reat Indo-Gangetic plain, has already been noticed. The 
former is at a considerably higher elevation above sea level than 
the latter, and the fall is consequently greater. The following are 
the hei"-hts above mean sea level of the chief points (at the surface 
of the alluvium) in the Brahmaputra Valley. 

Feet. -Feet. 

Sadiya ... ... 440 

Dibrugarh ... 348 

Sibsdgar ... 319 

Burarnukh, near Tezpur 256 
Gauhati ... I(i3 

Goalpara ... 150 

Dhubri ... ... 118 feet. 

The valley has thus, in a distance of about 450 miles, a fall 
exceedin^y 300 feet. In the Surma Valley, on the other hand, the 
following are the heights : 

Silchar .•• 87 feet | Sylhet ... 48 feet. 

Chhdtak ... ... 41 feet. 

In consequence of this greater fall, the rivers in the Brahma- 

r)utra Valley tend to cut away their banks, while those in the Surma 

Valley tend to raise them. The former is, indeed, most correctly 

described as in great part a gigantic khddar, or strath, within 

which the river oscillates to and fro, while the latter is a delta in 

the process of formation. Nearly the whole of the central portion 

of the Brahmaputra Valley consists of fine greyish-white sand, 

lio-htly covered by a layer of clay ; this is diversified near the 

rocks which occasionally impinge upon the river by beds of strong 

sandy clay, derived from their detritus. Away from the river the 

alluvium is more consolidated, and clay, due to the decomposition 

of the sand, predominates. Throughout this surface there are 

found here and there (as in the southern portions of the Sibsagar 

district, in the plain of Biswanath, and in the ridge of Tezpur) 

more elevated tracts, which seem to represent a more ancient 

hhdngar, or older alluvium, the greater part of which has 


disappeared. Such places, where they have been laid bare by the Section 2. 
river, are easily distinguishable, by their closer and heavier texture Geological 
and by their higher colour, from the shifting grey sands of which ^'^ "'^^'* 
the rest of the trough is composed, and are often indicated b}^ a 
name chosen for their peculiar features {Hanga-mati, " coloured 
earth," Ranga-gora, " coloured bank "). 

In the Surma Valley the process of deltaic formation (whether 
because depression of the surface has proceeded pari passu with 
alluvial accretion, or because the deposition of silt is slower and 
less copious than in the central portion of the Gangetic delta) is 
less advanced than anywhere else in the great alluvial plain. As 
already explained, the river banks are almost the only high land 
(always, of course, excepting the tllas and hill ranges) in the 
valley, and behind them lie great basins, or hdiirs, which are deeply 
covered with water half the year. In the flood season the rivers 
drain into these liciurs, and there deposit their silt, the water emerging 
when the river falls perfectly clear. This process results in a 
very noticeable raising of the level of these basins ; the Clidtla 
Mur, a great depression in South Oachar, which receives the floods 
of the Barak, is said to have risen 18 inches in the ten years ending 
1882-83, and almost another foot during the last decade ; the 
extensive Hakaluki hiur in South Sylliet, which receives the 
Langai, is likewise steadily diminishing in depth. One remarkable 
event in the history of Western Sylliet was the diversion of the 
Brahmaputra, which, till the commencement of the present century, 
flowed east of Mymensingh, and of the great tract of old raised 
alluvium called the Madhupur Jungle, into a new course far to the 
w^est. Previously to this diversion, which has now brought the 
Brahmaputra, as a delta-forming agency, into direct competition 
with the Ganges, the former river threw the greater portion of its 
lighter silt into the Mis of West Sylhet, and thus co-operated in 
raising that region. Now the Surma Valley deperds for its 
accretions on the purely rain-fed floods of the minor rivers which 
traverse it, and which are, of course, far inferior as silt-bearers to 
the great glacier-fed streams that drain the mighty chain of the 



ECTioN 3. ^^ ^1^^ climate of the Assam Province, botli in tlie Bralima- 
Cliniate. Dutra and Surma Valleys, is marked by extreme 

General remarks. 

humidity, the natural result of the great 
Tvater surface and extensive forests over which evaporation and 
condensation go On and the close proximity of the hill ranges 
Tvhich bound the alluvial tracts, and on and near to which 
an excessive precipitation takes place. The cloud proportion 
throughout the year, even in those months which in the rest of 
India are generally clear, is very large, dense fogs being cha- 
racteristic of the cold weather both north and south of the Assam 
range. It is frequently asserted that the monsoon may be said to 
beo-in in Assam two months before its commencement in the rest of 
India. This, however, is probably a mistake, the exceptionally 
heavy rainfall of April and May, which is characteristic of the 
province, and which, aided in the Brahmaputra Valley by the 
melting of the Himalayan snows, causes a sudden rise of the rivers 
in those months, being due to local causes, to storms and local 
evaporation. The spring rains are commonly succeeded by a 
break, more or less prolonged, of dry weather with westerly 
winds, before the true monsoon is ushered in, as in most other 
parts of India, about the beginning of June. 

17. Systematic observations have unfortunately been regularly 

taken at only a few points in the province, 

* Observing stations, . 

and the record of its meteorology leaves 
much to be desired. The places where meteorological observa- 
tories have been long established are SibsAgar and Silchar ; that at 
Goalpara was closed at the beginning of 1881, and Dhubri was 
chosen in its stead. At other stations, only the rainfall has 
hitherto been registered. 

18. The mean temperature of the plains portion of the province 

is, for a sub-tropical country, generall}^ low. 

Tenniiratu'e. mi c n • 11' r- c 

I he lollowiim' are the latest ni^^ures tor 


Chap. I.J 



Sibsdgar and Dhiibri in the Bralimaputra, and Silchar in the ^ectiom 3. 
Surma, Valley : ^ CUmaU. 

Average monthly mean temperature. 




























C7 6 


72 3 










79 1 








7 3-4 












It will be seen that Sibsagar, in the upper half of the Assam 
Valley, has a lower cold-weather, and higher rainy- season, tem- 
perature than Dliubri in the lower half ; and that there is a general 
coincidence throughout the year between the monthly means for 
the latter station and Silchar. These points may probably be 
taken as typical of the greater portion of the plains of Assam. 

19. The wind circulation differs considerably in the two 
valleys. In the Surma Valley, the general 
direction is the same as that in the Gansretic 
delta, south-west, changing to east towards the head of the 
valley, for the greater part of the year, with a north-north-east 
direction during the months of April and May. Over the western 
portion of the Assam Range the south-west wind from the Ba}' of 
Bengal sweeps w^itli considerable force throughout the spring- 
months, preserving a remarkable uniformity of direction. 
During the rains the direction changes somewhat towards 
south and south-east, with an occasional northing. In the 
Brahmaputra Valley, on the other hand, north-east winds are 
prevalent during the cold-weather and spring months in the 
upper portion, south-west winds taking their place during July 
and August. At Goalpdra, in the lower half of the valley, the 
north-east wind also prevails during the greater part of the cold 
weather ; but for the rest of the year south-east winds are the 
general feature. Thus, the monsoon winds of the Assam Valley are 
a back- current of the south-west monsoon, which undoubtedly 
blows across the hill range to the south. Both in the cold weather 

D 2 



[Chap. I. 

Section 3. and rains calms are frequent in both valleys, though seldom of 
Climate, ^oug coutinuance. 

Storms often occur in the spring months, generally accompanied 
by high winds and heavy local rainfall. The valleys and hills of 
the Shillong plateau assist in the formation, and determine the 
direction, of these disturbances, which are most common in the 
lower portion of the Assam Valley. Cyclones from the Bay of 
Bengal frequently visit and give heavy rainfall to the western 
portion of the range and the plains at its foot ; they most often 
occur at the close of the rainy season. 

20. The average monthly mean relative humidity of the three 
observing stations in the two valleys is 
shown below : 




















> ^ 

Sibsagar .. 










































This distribution of humidity resembles that of the Bengal 
delta, and differs greatly (except, of course, in the rainy season) 
from the data afforded by stations whose relative place in the 
Ganges Valley resembles those of the three stations selected in 
Assam. Taking the year as a whole, the humidity of the chmate 
of Sibsugar is exceeded by that of no other meteorological station 
in India,* and is equalled only by Darjeeling. 

21. Tlie following figures show the recorded averages of cloud 
proportion (complete overclouding being 
represented by 10) at each of the three 
observing stations month by month : 

Cloud proportion. 





















9 S 

■a 2 











































« Excluding Ceylon 

Excluding Ceylon The humidity of Galie and Newera Eliya in that island is slightly 
atcr than that of 5:ib8<4gar, and that of two otlier stations is exactly equal to it. 

Chap. I.] 



Out of 81 stations at which cloud observations have been Secttox 3. 
taken in India, Sibsagar stands at the head of the hst,* being cumate. 
approached only by Darjeehng. This pecuharity is probably due 
to the regular prevalence of dense fogs (which are counted as 
cloud in the table) during the cold weather in the Assam Valley, 
and to the copious spring rainfall. In the Surma Valle}^ fogs 
are decidedly less prevalent, and less dense when they occur, 
than in that of the Brahmaputra, and are also less common in 
the upper part of the valley, where Silchar is situated, than in the 
western half. 

22. The distribution of rainfall in Assam is that portion of 
the meteorology of the province which is 

Rainfall. , , '~^-. , , . -i •■,•-,• n^ 

best known, and also that m which it dmers 
most remarkably from other parts of India. Besides the 
observations taken at district and subdivisional headquarters, a 
rain-gauge is, as a rule, kept, and the rainfall is recorded at every 
tea garden. There are thus abundant materials for the study of 
the subject. The table below has been constructed to show 
separately the rainfall of the three seasons into which the year 
falls apart, in the Brahmaputra and Surma Valleys and the inter- 
vening hill region, respectively. The stations chosen are those at 
which observations have been recorded for the lon^^est time : 



er rain 

fall. 1 

Spring rainfall. 

Monsoon rainfall. 




















Brahmapctra Valley. 















Goalpara .. 












418| 9402 













2-97 6800 













3-07 74 23 

Nowgong . . . . 












3-94 79-83 











15 6] 


















The cloud proportion at Batticaloa in Ceylon is exactly equal to that at Sibsagar. 



[Chap. I. 

Section 3. 


Colli- weather rain 


Spring rain 



Monsoon rainfall. 


^ 8 








1-5 • 







nn.L DisTKicrs. 

(Assam Range.) 





























Cherra Piinji .. 







51-o7 116-55 




















SCRMA Valley. 





























This table exhibits, in a very conspicuous manner, the chief 
feature of the Assam climate, both in the Brahmaputra and Surma 
Valleys, viz., its copious rainfall between March and May, at a 
season when throughout Northern India generally precipitation is 
at its minimum. It also indicates the existence, in the Brahmaputra 
Valley, of a middle region (Gauhati, Tezpur, Nowgong), wdiere the 
spring and monsoon falls are less than at either extremity of the 
vallej^ This ma}^ possibly be due to the fact that south of this 
portion lies the most lofty part of the Shillong plateau, on the 
southern face of which (at Cherra Punji) and over the central 
table land the monsoon currents are drained of their humidity. To 
the west of this central plateau the valley is open to the winds of 
the Bengal delt^ ; and to the east the average height of the range 
falls greatly, admitting the south-west monsoon, by the gorge of 
the Jatinga Valley, over the low uplands of North Cacliar and down 
the long valley of the Dhansiri, into the great plain of Sibsagar and 

In the Surma Valley, the copiousness of the spring rainfall is 
even more conspicuous than in Assam Proper. The recording 
stations here are, unfortunately, rather close to the southern face 
of the Assam range, so that they do not very accurately represent 
the mean rainfall of this re<]jion* 


The few stations for which observations liave been recorded in Section 3. 
the hill region have the character of their rainfall determined very cJbmte. 
largely by local conditions. Tura, the chief town of the Garo Hills, 
is situated (at an elevation of only 1,323 feet above the sea) on the 
northern skirts of the range which forms the main axis of the hills, 
and rises south of the station to a height of 4,G52 feet in the peak of 
Nokrek. It is thus greatly sheltered from the monsoon currents 
which expend their moisture upon the ridge at its back. Similarly, 
Shillong, though only 30 miles distant from Clierra, where the 
greatest recorded rainfall in Asia is found, has the clouds drained 
of their humidity long before they reach it by the immense precipi- 
tation along the southern edge of the plateau and in the central 
table land, which lies some 1,500 feet above the site of the station. 
Cherra Punji, on the other hand, is so placed as to exemplify all the 
conditions needed for a great rainfall. It stands, immediately over- 
looking the plains at a height of 4,455 feet, on a small plateau 
of thick-bedded sandstones, bounded on two sides by 2,000 feet 
of sheer descent, which close in gorges debouching southwards 
on Sylliet, which is practically at sea-level. The south-west wind 
sweeping over the inundated alluvial tract, blows up these gorges, 
as well as on the southern face of the general scarp, and, havino- 
reached the heads of the gorges, ascends vertically. The plateau 
is thus during the summer months surrounded, or nearlv so by 
vertically-ascending currents of saturated air, the d3'namic coolin"- 
of which is the cause of the enormous precipitation. It lies 
moreover, at the elevation of 4,000 feet, which is found in the 
Himalayas to be that of maximum precipitation. The annual 
average varies greatly in ditlerent parts of the station, although the 
whole extent of the plateau is not much more than a couple of square 
miles. Some of the earlier registers, which were those of rain-gauo-es 
near the edges of the plateau, show a higher precipitation than 
those kept in recent years nearer its centre. The fall has varied 
greatly from year to year : 805 inches were recorded in 1861, and 
in the month of July of that year 36G inches fell. In 1884 the 
total fall was only 270 inches. 

Kohima is situated on a ridize north of the great mountain 


Section 3. mass of Japvo (9,890 feet high), and is thus, hke Tura and Shillong, 
CliiZte protected from the full force of the monsoon currents. 

23. These being the general characteristics of the climate of 

Assam, it will readily be understood that in 

Effect of climate on jj-g effects upon human health and economic 

heahli. . i 1 i- e 

conditions, it presents the nsual leatures or 
a cool, equable, humid, sub -tropical region. Kdla-azdr, malarial 
diseases, and cholera are the most prevalent forms of sickness. 
Kdla-azdr was once thought to be due to the effects of malaria, 
but recent enquiries have shown that it is caused by the attacks 
of a parasite {Dochmius diiodenalis), to the development of which 
the humidity of the atmosphere is peculiarly favourable.* The 
heavy mortality from this cause was first noticed in 1882 in certain 
villages along the northern terai of the Giro Hills, and in 1884 
the number of deaths became so great that a special relief work 
was organised. Since that date the disease has spread gradually 
through the Godlpdra subdivision, and throughout that portion of 
the Kamriip district which lies on the south bank of the Brahma- 
putra. It has now reached the Nowgong district, and for several 
years past a number of deaths in North Kamrup and Mangaldai 
have also been reported to be due to this disease. The mortality 
attending its progress has been terrible, and tracts, which before 
its advent were covered with thickly-peopled and prosperous 
villaf^es, have been left by it deserted and uncultivated. Whole 
villages have thus disappeared, and large areas of land have been 
thrown out of cultivation. Malaria lurks chiefly in the broken 
country forming the skirt of the Assam Eange, where the long low 
valleys are seldom stirred by the strong winds which blow on the 
southern face. In the open country away from the hills it is 
seldom severe ; and the plains of Sibs^gar and Dibrugarh, with the 
southern portion of Sylhet, are probably throughout the whole of 
India, outside of the hills, the tracts which are most suited for 
halntation by Europeans, who generally enjoy excellent health. 
Notwithstanding the great water surface of Sylhet, and the deep 

* Further enquiries liave, liowever, thrown doubt on the correctness of this view. Seo 
Assam Sanitary Reports for 1893 and 18'JJt an.l Chief Comuiissioucr's Resolutions thereon. 


flooding wliicli it undergoes in the rains, it is, on the whole, a very Section 4. 
healthy district. Cachar, which is more confined by hills, is less chief 
so. The climate of the hills is healthy or the reverse according to -^^^i^^^^- 
their elevation. The whole of the central plateau of the Shillong 
range is very salubrious, and the same is the case with the Naga 
Hills. The Gdro and North Cachar Hills, on the other hand, are 
low and feverish. 

The copiousness of the spring rains, and the steady prevalence 
of moisture throughout the year, are 
on crops. extremely favourable to the two great crops 

of the province : rice and tea. The cultivation of the former 
resembles in its main features that of the same staple throughout 
Bengal. But in x\ssam and Sylhet,,_tea^ yields more largely, and 
can be plucked and manufactured more continuously, than in any 
other part of India. 

Famine, or even scarcity, due to drought, is unknown in the pro- 
vince ; losses from inundation occasionally happen.* But excessive 
floods are seldom of long duration, and the submerged lands can 
usually be re-sown ; in any case, a bumper crop Jthe next season 
invariably follows upon the destruction of one harvest by flooding. 

24. Under this section may be mentioned the earthquakes to 

which the province, or at least the eastern half 


of it, is subject. Several severe shocks have 
been recorded, but none such have occurred during the last decade* 
A full account of the Cachar earthquake of the lOtli January 1869 
has been published in the " Memoirs of the Geological Survey," 
Volume XIX. Another severe shock occurred in September 1875, 
which did some damage to houses in Shillong and Gauhdti ; and 
Silchar was again visited by an earthquake in October 1882. 


25. The principal and almost the only food-grain of the plains 
^ , . portion of the province is rice. The produc- 

jocd-grains. ^^ ... 

tion of this staple is carried on generally 
under the same conditions as in Bengal ; but the times of sowino- 

* In the Lushai Hills great scarcity has occasionally been caused by the ravages 
of rats. 



Section 4- and reaping, and the names given to the several crops, vary much 
Chief in different parts of the province. 

Staples. Q^^g exception to this barbarous system of agriculture is 

found among the Angami Ntigas. Tiie powerful villages of 
this people, which lie about the skirts of the central mass of 
.Tapyo, are surrounded by admirably-constructed terraced rice- 
fields, not, as in the Khdsi Hills, cut in the gentle slope of the 
valleys and embanked with earthen dykes, but built up with stone 
retaining-walls at different levels, and irrigated by means of skil- 
fully-engineered channels, which distribute the water over each 
step in the series. These remarkable works appear to be peculiar 
to the group of villages mentioned, their neighbours following the 
ordinary system of cultivation by jlium. They have doubtless 
been produced by the necessity of their position. Living in con- 
stant warfare w^ith one another and with their neighbours, and 
maintaining their supremacy by military force, these ruling 
villages were formerly compelled to keep their food-supply in the* 
immediate vicinity of their habitations, and thus to make the 
utmost of the productive powers of the valley bottoms, instead of 
carrying their tillage over the wide hill-sides in a rotation of many 
years, as is done by hillmen elsewhere. Another reason for their 
resort to irrigation appears to be that their hills are too densely 
peopled to admit oi jhum cultivation, as, although the latter seems 
to yield a larger outturn for the years during which the cultiva- 
tion is carried on, the land rapidly becomes exhausted, and, after 
two or three years' cultivation, requires a long rest before it 
recovers its fertility; a tribe cultivating on the jhum system thus 
requires a much greater area of land for its support than one 
resorting to irrigation. 

26. In the Brahmaputra Valley generally there are only two 
great rice crops, — the dhu, [dsii, dus) and the 
ra mapu ra a o}. ^^^^ (^hdli). The dJm, or early rice, is 
generally sown broadcast (though it is sometimes transplanted) 
upon higher lands in February and March, and is reaped soon 
after the setting in of the rains, from June to August. The sdli^ 
on the contrary, is sown first in nurseries in June, and is trans- 

Chap. I.] 




planted in July and August into fields which can be flooded in Section 4. 
the rains ; it is reaped in December and January.* 

The following table will serve to show comparatively the area 
under these two descriptions of rice and that under other crops 
in the districts of the Brahmaputra Valley. It represents only 
lands amalgamated with the mauza, that is, in charge of the local 
fiscal officers, and does not include in Godlpdra the permanently- 
settled portion of the .district, or, in the other districts, the estates 
of revenue-free holders, grantees of waste lands devoted to tea 
cultivation, or large privileged holders who pay only half the 
ordinary rates of revenue, but, though for these reasons not 
exhaustive, it sufficiently indicates the relative proportions of rice 
and other cultivation in the districts of the valley : 



































































































Lakhimpur .. 

























* The names in tliis paragraph designate harvests rather than kinds of crop. In 
Kamrup, for instance, the dhu includes (1) the dhulia dhu, sown early in dry pulverised 
fields, which gives the best outturn ; (2) dsrd, sovvn broadcast in fields reduced to a puddle 
by the early rains ; and (3) Icharma (called pharma in Upper Assam), which is transplant- 
ed. The last two are less productive than the first. Under sdli is included bdo, a kind of 
rice sown early in the season in hollows which fill too deeply with water for dhu or ordinary 
sdli ; it is reaped about a month before the latter, and yields a very heavy outturn. Bdo 
is sometimes sown broadcast and is sometimes transplanted ; in some districts the area 
under this crop is considerable. It is sometimes sown together with dhu, and if the 
inundation drowns the latter, the cultivator at least gets his crop of bdo ; if the rains are 
moderate, both crops may be reaped, the dhu first, the bdo springing up after the other 
has been taken away ; lastly, if the rains are scanty, the bdo hollows give an excellent 
crop of sdli rice. Sdli, properly so called, is again divided into " Idhi " and " bor " dhdn : 
tiie former includes the finer varieties, which are grown on comparatively high land 
where the supply of water is somewhat scanty ; the latter is planted on land whichis 
liable to be more heavily flooded. 



Section 4- Tlius, out of the total cultivation, 53-7 per cent, is late rice, or 
Chief scili, and 17-4 per cent, early rice or dim. the two to2;ether makinsx 
""^ "' up 71-1 per cent, of the whole of the cultivation in the valley. 
The remainder is distributed between mustard 9-7 per cent., pulse 
3*8 per cent., sugarcane 1*04 per cent., the balance consisting 
of other crops, such as til or sesamum, several varieties of 
pulse or ddl, Indian-corn, tobacco, betel, plantations of sz^m-trees 
{macliilus odoratissima) for rearing silk, vegetables for household 
use, &c. 

Of the land shown as cropped twice in the year, no portion is 
included in that occupied by sdli rice or sugarcane. Aim rice, 
mustard, and mdtikalai {phaseolus radiatus), the most common 
variety of ddl or pulse grown in Assam) to some extent occupy the 
same land, that cultivated in the sprim? with the first-named 
yielding a winter crop of either of the two latter. But mustard 
is chiefly grown in the low inundated country of Nowgong, Kdm- 
rup, and Darrang, known as the chdpuri mahdls, on the light soil 
left after the inundation has subsided. The grass is pressed down 
and left to wither, after which it is burnt, the soil lightly stirred, 
and the seed put in. The crop is reaped about February. 

27. For the Surma Valley, owing to the fact that the greater 
part of Sylhet is permanently settled, and 

Sunn a ^ alley. ^ *' ^ •*■ '' 

that Cachar is settled for a term, while in 
neither district do mufassal establishments corresponding to the 
patwaris of Upper India or the mandals of the Brahmaputra Valley 
exist, we have no accurate statistics of the relative area under 
different kinds of crop. But here also rice is so much the most 
important staple that it is unnecessary to notice any other. There 
is proportionately much less mustard grown in this valley than in 
Assam Proper, and there is but little export of it to Bengal. 
Besides mustard, a variety of radish, or tnidi, with a white flower, 
is cultivated as an oil seed in Sylhet. The various kinds of pulse 
are also insignificant in area. Sugar is produced in some quantity 
in the south-west corner of the distri(3t, and has a local reputation. 
The great crop of rice in Sylhet is the late rice, dman and sail : 
the first of these two names is applied chiefly to rice sown broad- 
cast, while the latter (which corresponds in name and character 


to the sail of Assam) is transplanted. This crop is reaped from Section 4. 
the middle of JSTovember to the end of January. The cms {dsu or Chief 
cihu of Assam) is a comparatively small crop; it is harvested 
between the 1st June and the middle of September. In the 
western and central parts of the district, which are subject to deep 
flooding, a cold-weather rice, called sail hura, is grown in marshy 
land, and reaped in April and May. This variety is only locally 
of importance. 

In Cachar, the rice crops resemble those of Sylhet, consist- 
ing of the early and late dus (both minor crops), harvested between 
June and September, and the sail and dsrd (the latter answering 
to the dman of Sylhet), reaped in November and December. 

28. In the hill districts, rice holds a less exclusive place 
amoni:^ the crops cultivated. There are o-reat 

Hill districts. ... *^ 

differences in different parts of the province 
in the crops grown and the system of cultivation adopted ; these 
differences are determined partly by the character of the country 
and partly by the degree of civilisation possessed by the tribe. 
Among the KhAsis the system of agriculture is comparatively 
elaborate, and carefully adjusted to the productive powers of the 
soil. In the flattish valleys, with which the central plateau 
abounds, rice is grown in terraced and well irrigated fields, and 
such fields are found also on the northern margin of the district 
wherever the conformation of the surface admits of them. With 
this exception, however, the rest of their crops are grown on hill 
sides, the turf and scrub upon which are burnt after being pre- 
viously arranged in beds, and the seed sown in the ashes, which 
serve as manure. In this way are raised unirrigated rice, potatoes, 
various kinds of millet [the three principal being soh-riu or Job's- 
tears (Coix lacrima), rai-tru {Eleusine coracarui), rai-shdng {Digi- 
taria sp-?)], and a crop called sohphldng {Flemingia vestita), a 
leguminous plant with a red flower, which produces large numbers 
of tubers about the size of a pigeon's egg among its roots : these 
are eaten raw by the Khdsis. 

The crops just described are those of the central plateau ; 
besides these, chiefly on the northern slopes of the hills towards 



Sectiov 4. Kamrup and Nowgong, cotton is grown in forest clearings, or 
^l~f jhiims, -where the soil is enriched by burning the felled trees and 
Staples, scrub. On the southern face of "the hills, and on the slopes 
stretching into Sylhet, are produced the crops to which the wealth 
of the Khtisis is so largely due, — oranges, betel-nuts, and pine- 
apules. The orange and betel-nut trees grow together, in care- 
fully kept and regularly renewed groves, and bear in immense 
profusion. The pine-apple "grows like a weed in this region, and 
is extraordinarily cheap and abundant. Besides these field crops, 
every Kliasi village on the plateau has its carefully hedged home- 
stead lands, in which fine crops of potatoes, Indian-corii, vege- 
tables, and pulses are raised, with occasional plots of sugarcane. 

No others among the hill races can compe.e with the Khasis in 
the value of their staples, or the enlightened character of their 
agriculture. The Garos to the west, and the Mikirs, Kacharis, 
and Kukis to the east, cultivate entirely by jhuming, clearing the 
forest with axe and fire, and growing in the space thus secured, 
among the ashes of the trees and undergrowth, mixed crops of 
long-stemmed rice, chillies, cotton, millets, and gourds. Some of 
these tribes are less untidy than others in their mode of tillage, 
and devote a jhiim to a single crop, as rice, cotton, or millet : 
others mix their crops, which come to maturity at different times 
during the year. But such a jhilm at best is a repulsive sight 
with its rotting or half -burnt trunks of trees lying as they were 
felled, and the crop struggling w^ith the weeds of the jungle. Land 
thus jhiimed is nowhere occupied longer than three years, and often 
less, after which it requires from ten to twenty years to recover its 
fertility and to become reclothedwith forest. All the cotton grown 
in the province is raised by the hill tribes in this manner, and is 
remarkable for its short staple and harsh woolly fibre ; indeed, it so 
much resembles wool that it has found a demand in Europe for 
mixing with wool for the manufacture of carpets. 

29. For a series of years, numerous experiments were made 
annually with a view to ascertaining the 

Average outturn of crops. , ° 

average outturn of the* different crops grown 
in Assam. The result of experiments continued over eight years 



seems to be that sdli on the average yields a crop of about 20 Section 5, 
maiinds per acre, dhu 17 maunds, and hao IG maunds.* In Sylhet, Co,Z^rc{al 
the outturn of dman is nearly 19 maunds and that of dus 14 ^i'^P^es. 
maunds per acre. The yield of dus (diimai and murdli) in Cachar 
is 15 maunds per acre ; the experiments in other varieties of rice 
in that district have not been sufficiently numerous to furnish a 
reliable average. 

For mustard, the same series of experiments shows an averao-e 
outturn of 6^ maunds per acre. A particularly interestin^r 
feature of the experiments in the outturn of this crop is the proof 
afforded by them that the yield on land cultivated for the first 
year is greater than that for the second year, and that in subse- 
quent years the annual outturn falls rapidly. The figures for five ■ 
years' experiments on lands cultivated for the first, second, and third 
years are 574 pounds, 501 pounds, and 378 pounds, respectively. 

The average yield per acre of other crops is — sugarcane 
1,515 pounds, mdtikalai 401 pounds, linseed 433 pounds, rapeseed 
328 pounds, uncleaned cotton 283 pounds, til 274 pounds, jute 
1,045 pounds, and onions 1,625 pounds. 


30. The most important commercial staple of Assam 16 tea. 

The plant is indigenous to the province, being 

found wild in the forests south of the Dihino-, 

in the Naga Hills to the south of Sibsagar, and in Manipur, North 

Cachar, and the Lushai Hills. The following paragraphs, extracted 

from a memorandum written by Mr. (now Sir ifolm) Edgar in 

1873, give in a brief and convenient form a sketch of the growth 

and progress of the tea industry in this province from its 

commencement down to that year : 

There have been lively disputes as to the first discoverer of tea in Assam 
and the date of its discovery. It is probable that a Mr. C. A. Bruce, who 

* Unfortunately, the experiments of earlier years failed to distinguish between the 
different varieties of sdli and dhu. But from the figures for 1888-89 it appears that wliile 
the bor dhdn variety of idli yielded 1,821 pounds per acre, ^ciAJ yielded only 1,159 pounds. 
Similarly, transplanted dJiu or kharma dhdn gave an average outturn of 1,380 pounds, 
against 1,300 pounds for dhu sown broadcast. 


Section 5. commanded a division of gunboats in Upper Assam during the first Burmese 

^ . , war brought down from Upper Assam some plants and seed of the indige- 

Commercial ? & ^ '■ -^ ^ 

Staples. nous plant in 1826, and he actually received a medal from the English 
Society of Arts. But his claim to have been the first discoverer of tea was 
disputed by a Captain Charlton, who asserted that the existence of tea in 
Assam had been first established by himself in 1832. In 1834, a committee 
was appointed to enquire into, and report on the possibility of introducing 
the cultivation of tea into India. In 1835 the first attempt was made by 
Government to establish an experimental plantation in Lakhimpur, but it 
failed, and the plants were afterwards removed to Jaipur, in the Sibsagar 
district, and a garden established, which was sold to the Assam Company in 
1840. This Company, which was formed about 1839, was the first, and is 
still very much the greatest, concern for the cultivation of tea in Bengal. 
It was not, however, very prosperous during its early years, and in 1846-47 
its shares are said to have been almost unsaleable. Its prospects began to 
improve about 1852, and in 1859 it was reported officially to have a cultiva- 
ted area of about 3,'J67 acres, with an estimated outturn of over 760,000 
pounds of tea. Meantime, tea cultivation had been commenced in many other 
districts. In 1850 a garden was started by Colonel Hannay near Dibrugarh, 
and in 1853, when Mr. Mills of the Sudder Court visited Assam, he found 
three private gardens in Sibsagar and six in Lakhimpur. In 1854, the first 
gardens were started in Darrang and Kamriip. In 1855 indigenous tea 
was found in Cachar, and the first garden in the district was commenced in 
the cold season of that year. In the following year (1856) tea was 
discovered in Sylhet, but no attempt at cultivating it was made for some 
time after. 

It may be said generally that the foundations of the present tea indus- 
try were laid between 1856 and 1859. In the latter year the labour 
difficulty began to be seriously felt in Assam and Cachar ; but, although 
Colonel Jenkins, Commissioner of Assam, recorded a serious warning, no 
one else seemed able to foresee the formidable dangers into which the too 
rapid progress of the industry would bring it. Later still, in 1862-63, 
officials as well as planters seem to have indulged in visions of fabulous 
prosperity, which only deepened the gloom of the miserable time that was 
so soon to come on them. The Land Revenue Administration Report for 
that year contains extracts from reports from Assam, Cachar, Sylhet, and 
Darjeeling, written in the most hopeful spirit ; indeed, the two former are 
written in an exalted tone that contrasts curiously with the usual sobriety 
of official reports. But even'at the time of publication of these rej)orts 
suspicions had begun to arise about the soundness of this condition of 


affairs, which was apparently so brilliant. An Act for the regulation of the Sfxtion 5. 
transport of native labourers emigrating to Assam and C'achar, passed in Commercial 
1863, was expected to remedy many hideous evils which were discovered to ■^^"Z''^'" 
exist in the impox'tation of labourers required to supplement the scanty 
local supply. But it soon came to light that the condition of these labourers 
on many gardens in both districts was most deplorable, while the morta- 
lity among them was appalling. The evil first fruits of the reckless way 
in which waste lands had been dealt with, in the belief that Government 
was fostering tea cultivation thereby, were being gathered in the shape of 
increasing hostility to Grovernment and its officials, caused by difficulties 
about surveys, boundaries, title-deeds, and the like, which all had arisen 
out of the mistaken policy of giving vast tracts of land to anyone choosing to 
ask for them, without enquiry and without precaution of any kind. 

In 1865, an Act was passed for the regulation of the relations of employ- 
ers and imported labourers after the arrival of the latter in the districts of 
Assam, Sylhet, and Cachar. Here I shall only say that, though at first at 
least it did little to improve the condition of the labourers, I am convinced 
that it had not the slightest connection with the temporary collapse of the 
tea industry which took place in the following year. The cause of the 
crash of 18G6 was the utterly unsound foundation on which the fabric of the 
tea industry had been based, and not directly the action of Government, as 
at the time it was the fashion of even usually well-informed persons to 
assert. At the same time, we should never lose sight of the fact that the 
industry might never have got into the ruinous slate of inflation that it was 
in previous to 1866, had it not been for the unwise attempts of Government 
to foster it at the outset by sacrificing the most necessary safeguards in 
dealing with land. The depression of the industry consequent on the 
collapse of so many concerns in 1866 was, of course, intensified by the 
ignorance of the general body of proprietors of tea, shares, who, as was 
remarked by me in a paper written in 1867, showed as much folly in their 
hurry to get out of tea as they had a few years before in their eagerness to 
undertake the speculation. 

This depreciation of tea property continued during the years 1866, 1867, 
and 1868; but about 1869 things began to look brighter. It was seen that 
people who had worked steadily for years with a view to make gardens that 
would yield a profit had been rewarded, while much of the property of the 
collapsed companies had turned out well under careful management. In fact, 
it was again found out that tea would pay, and ever since it has been 
steadily progressing in popular estimation, and, as a general rule, in profit 
to those engaged in it. 


Section 5. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the industry is in an infinitely 

Commercial better and safer position now than it was ten years ago. The existing 
Staples. gardens are, as a general rule, well filled with plants, highly cultivated, and 
carefully managed. The amount of tea produced per acre, although falling 
far short of the sanguine expectation of the first days of tea-planting, is 
satisfactory in all the more important districts, while the prices obtained 
this season show that the average quality must be very good. There is 
every reason to hope that the labour difficulty is disappearing in Cachar, 
and, in spite of the complaints from Assam, there are evident signs of 
improvement in that province. 

Tea is now cultivated in all the plains districts of the province, 
and there is one "arden in the Khdsi Hills. The followin« fiiiures 
give the total area under tea in each district, and the estimated 
outturn iu pounds, according to the last returns, those of 1892 : 

Area in acres. 

outturn iu 





Brahmaputra Valley. 



































Surma Valley. 











Khasi Hills 









Grand total 





When the industry was first undertaken, the land which was 
supposed to be bast suited for the plant was hill or undulating 


Secttov c 
ground, siicli as the spurs of the Khasi Hills, in South Kamrup, •' 

and the tilas of Sylhet and Cachar. Now, however, it has been ^stapUsT 
found in the Surma Valley that, with good drainage, the heaviest 
crops of tea can be raised from low-lying land, even such as 
formerly supported rice cultivation. In the Assam Valley, the 
most suitable soil is considered to be the old alluvium, or bltdngar, 
.such as is found in the south of Sibsdgar district and in the north 
of Darrang. This is a rich loam, capable, by reason of its undu- 
lating surface, of excellent drainage, and very heavy crops are 
obtained from such gardens. The average outturn per acre was 
in 1892 returned as 376 pounds for Sylhet and Cachar, and 409 
pounds for the Assam Valley. 

31. There is ample space still available for the extension of 

the tea industry. Besides the 247,192 acres 
inLTuy?^^ "^ *^^ ^^* shown in the above statement as already 

occupied with tea, some 797,792 acres have 
been taken up for plantation purposes, much of which will, no 
doubt, in due time, be planted, though a good deal may be un- 
suitable for tea. Prices have fallen considerably during the last 
decade, but the introduction of labour-saving machinery and of 
improved methods of cultivation, together with careful attention 
to economic working, have combined to reduce the cost of 
production to such an extent that the profits from the better class 
of gardens are considerably larger, and the position of the industry 
generally is now much more assured and satisfactory than it was 
ten years ago. 

32. There are four varieties of domesticated silkworms in 

Assam. The smaller or multivoltine pat 

Silk- ,7 7 -N T 1 1 

worm {bombyjc croesi), and the larger or 
unlvoltine worm of the same name {bombyx textor), both feed on 
the mulberry, and produce a white silk, which was in considerable 
demand in the days of the Ahom kings. The cultivation of these 
silkworms is, however, decreasing, and there is little prospect of 
its revival. The muga worm {anthercea Assama) feeds on the 
sum tree {machilus odoratissima), and on the dualu {tetranthera 
monopetala), as also on a variety of other trees, but the silk yield- 

F 2 


Section 5. ed b}' the siuV'ied worm is the best. The worm is a multivoltine, 
Commercial j^elcling as many as live broods in the year, but nsually only three 
Staples. ^^ these are used for the manufacture of silk ; and in Upper Assam 
breedino- is discontinued during the rainy season, and is resumed 
on the approach of the cold weather with cocoons imported from 
Kamri'ip and Nowgong. In Upper Assam, the worms are fre- 
quently fed on patches of natural forest, but in the western 
districts land is planted out with sum trees for this purpose. The 
worms are placed on the trees as soon as they are hatched, and 
are watched night and day during the whole period of their life 
in the open air. When ready to spin their cocoons, they descend 
the tree, and are removed by the cultivator. The cocoon is about 
11 inch long by J'^hs of an inch in diameter, and yields a soft 
silk of a bright yellow colour, with a beautiful gloss. The silk is 
wound off the cocoon by an extremely primitive process of reeling. 
In 1837, Mr. Hugon calculated that an acre of trees would support 
worms yielding 50,000 cocoons, capable of being reeled into 12 
seers of silk ; but a careful estimate prepared by the Deputy Com- 
missioner of Sibsagar in 1882 places the outturn per acre at only 
a quarter of this quantity, — a difference which may partly be 
explained by supposing that Mr. Hugon was speaking of 
plantations, while the Sibsagar estimate relates to natural sum 
forest, where the trees grow much more sj^arsely. The area of such 
forests in the Assam Valley (where alone the muga is produced) is 
believed to be about 300 square miles ; but this great area is used 
for breeding silkworms only as the alluvial lands of the Brahma- 
putra are used for growing mustard, that is to say, parties of men 
make clearance of the undergrowth in patches, and cultivate 
silkworms for a year or two, after which they move to another 
spot. TheJ fourth kind of silkworm reared in Assam is that called 
m, from its feeding on the eri {endi) or castor-oil plant. This is 
bred chiefly by Ivacharis, Mikirs, Gdros, and Kukis, both in the 
Assam Valley and on the northern and southern skirts of the 
central range of Assam, as also in the low hills to the south of 
Sylhet and Cachar. It is a multivoltine worm, reared entirely 
indoors, and yielding five broods in the year. The cocoon is 


smaller than that of the muga, and its colour is either white or a 

deep brick-red, both red and white cocoons being produced ^"'stTpul^^ 
indifferently by worms of the same brood. The silk is never 
reeled, but is spun off by hand. 

The demand for eri silk is rapidly increasing, but all attempts at 
producing it on a commercial scale have hitherto failed, the main 
reason being that the castor-oil plants, on which the worm feeds, 
are peculiarly liable to destruction by caterpillars when grown 
in large quantities. As regards the muga cocoon, no method of 
reeling it has yet been introduced which will enable it to be sold 
at remunerative prices, and its chief sale continues, as heretofore, 
to be for the purpose of embroidering the hand-made muslins 
manufactured at Dacca. 

33. Cotton is grown in large quantities along the slopes of the 

Assam ramye, especially in the Gdro and 
Cotton. , ^ ... 

Mikir Hills ; it is also grown in the hilly 

country in South Cachar and Sjdliet. It forms, except in the 
Khasi Hills, almost the only produce which the hillman has to 
barter for the necessaries which he buys at the submontane markets, 
where a large business in it is done. The staple is, as already 
mentioned, short and harsh, and the main demand for the hill 
cotton comes from within the province. (A certain quantity, how- 
ever, is exported, and 68,485 maunds were exported during 1892- 
93, against only 14,199 maunds during the corresponding year of 
the last decade. The demand outside the province seems, there- 
fore, to be increasing.) 

34. One of the most valuable products of Assam is India- 

rubber, which is obtained almost exclusively 

Rubber. . , . , - ^ ^ 

from Ficus elastica, the outturn from other 
local species being inappreciable. 

The rubber tree, which formerly was found in greater or less 
abundance in many parts of the province, is now restricted to the 
most inaccessible forests of the Lakhimpur, Darrang, and Khasi 
Hills districts, and in the last of these this tree is now fast dis- 
appearing, owing to the wasteful and destructive methods employed 
by the tappers for obtaining the rubber. There is also good reason 



Section 5. for supposing that the rubber forests situated in territory beyond 
Commercial tho Assam frontier, and from which the larger portion of the total 
^^' outturn is obtained, are gradually becoming less productive than 
formerly, and that the more accessible of these forests have been 
completely worked out. When the last decennial report was com- 
piled in 1882-83, the outturn of rubber was returned as 10,000 
niaunds per annum. But since then there has been a large falling 
off, the average output during the past ten years having only 
slightly exceeded 5,000 maunds, and even this comparatively low 
average has not been attained during recent years, as will be seen 
from the followinsj fi";ures : 

Outturn in 1889-90 ... ... ... 3,419 

„ 1890-91 ... ... ... 3,076 

„ 1891-92 ... ... ... 4,227 

„ 1892-93 ... ... ... 3,250 

Within the last year, the old system of leasing out the product 
over certain areas, known as mahdls, was abolished, and replaced 
by a duty of Es. 12 per maund, which is imposed on all rubber 
brought from beyond the frontier, or collected in the Government 
forests. This change of system, however, did not come into force 
until November 1892, which accounts for the sudden falling off 
exhibited in the figures of 1892-93, which must, therefore, be 
considered as abnormally low. The receipts from rubber durinoj 
the past ten years have averaged Es. 33,079 a year, but a consi- 
derable increase on this sum may be expected to result in future 
years from the collection of the abovementioned duty. 

The amount of rubber exported from Assam during the past 
three years has been 4,844 maunds in 1890-91, 5,903 maunds in 
1891-92, and 4,006 maunds in 1892-93. Its selling price in the 
Assam markets is from Es. 50 to Es. GO a maund ; in Calcutta it 
fetches as much as Es. 100. 

35. Indigenous lac is found in the Assam forests, but the 

j^^ staple is also largely cultivated by artificial 

propagation. The lac insect is chiefly reared 

on two kinds of fig [Ficus cordifolia and Ficus lacci/era), which are 

planted on a large scale near villages in the Kdmrup and Darrang 


districts. The form in which the great bulk of the Lac is exported Section 5. 
is stick lac, the crude product, consisting of small twigs surrounded Commercial 
by cylinders of translucent orange yellow gum, in which the insects 
which deposited it are embedded. A small export exists of sliell 
and button lac, and of lac-dye, the result of a process of purifica- 
tion applied to the stickdac. The twigs are first separated, and 
the gummy envelope is then scraped and rubbed by hand under 
a stream of water till the colouring matter has been thoroughly 
extracted ; this con&ists of the dead bodies of the insects buried in 
the gum, and gradually precipitates itself to the bottom of the 
water when left to settle. The water is then drained off, and the 
sediment, after being strained, pressed, and dried, becomes lac-dye, 
ready for the market. The gummy exudation is meanwhile dried 
in the sun, and then melted, in bags of cotton cloth, over a char- 
coal fire. It is then squeezed out, either in thin sheets upon an 
earthen cylinder, when it becomes shell-lac, or in dabs upon a 
plantain stalk, when it is called button-lac. The exports of lac 
and lac-dye during the last three years have been as follows : in 
1890-91, 9,337 maunds ; in 1891-92, 14,753 maunds ; and in 1892- 
93, 15,376 maunds, 

36. - Mustard forms a very important commercial staple in the 
Assam Valley, where, as shown in the 
^^ ^^ ' preceding section, it is largely grown in the 

inundated country of Kdmrup and Nowgong. It is manufactured 
to a small extent into oil within the province ; but this product is 
consumed almost exclusively by the immigrant population. The 
following are the exports of mustard-seed during the past three 
years from the Assam Valley ; * 

1890-91 ... ... ... ... 8,69,571 

1891-92 ... ... ... ... 12,77,217 

1892-93 ... ... ... ... 11,28,996 

But little mustard is exported from Sylhet and Cachar. The 
figures are — 

1890-91 ... ... ... ... 25,974 

1891-92 ... ... ... ... 2J,958 

1892-93 ... ... ... ... 18,750 


Section 5. oij>^ j^te is growu for export in Godlpdra and Kamrup, but hardly 

Comnercial at all in Other districts of the Assam Valley. 

'*^ "' There is also a little jute in South Sylliet. 

The following are the figures showing the export of this staple for 

the past three years : 


1890-91 ... ... ... ... 3,40,678 

1891-92 ... ... ... ... 2,21,595 

1892-93 ... ... ... ... 2,16,479 

Nearly the whole of the above came from the Assam Valley. 
38. Potatoes are very largely grown in the Khdsi Hills, but in 
no other part of the province, as a commer- 

Potatoes. . ^ ^ . \ ^ . 

cial staple. They were introduced into this 
district by Mr. David Scott, Governor General's Agent, in 1830, 
and are now cultivated throughout the upper plateaux of the 
Khasi Hills Proper, though not in the Jaintia country. Two crops 
are produced j^early, the first being sown in February and March 
and reaped in July, and the second put down in August and taken 
up in November and December. The latter crop is chiefly used 
for seed, and the export is wholly derived from the former. Large 
quantities are carried down by cart to Gauhdti for the supply of 
the Assam Valley. But the main channel of export to Bengal is 
via Clierra Punji and Sylhet, whence the potatoes are conveyed by 
boat. The exports reached the highest point known in 18<Sl-82,. 
when they amounted to 1,26,981 maunds. In 1886-87, they were 
returned at 1,04,940 maunds, but in that year the tubers were 
attacked for the first time by a disease due to the presence of a 
fungus [PhytophtJiora infestans), and in the following year the crop 
was reported to have rotted in the ground. Owing to this disease, 
the exports continued to fall from 41,548 maunds in 1887-88, and 
24,386 maunds in 1889-90 to 12,016 maunds in 1890-91. The 
disease is now reported to have disappeared to a large extent and 
the exports have increased in consequence. In 1891-92 they were 
returned at 29,321 maunds. In the following year (1892-93), 
however, the exports fell again to 10,776 maunds in consequence 
of diminished cultivation and increased local consumption. 


Chap. 1.] PHYSICAJi FEATUllES, ETC 4 1 

39. Another article of considerable traffic '■which is exported Section 5. 

from the Khdsi Hills consists of oranf^^es. rn„7ZZr;,f 

Oran^'es. ^unimcrLiak 

These are produced in great abundance, and staples. 
of excellent quality, on the slopes of the hills bordering on Sylhet, 
where there is a continuous fringe of orange-groves belonging to 
the Khdsi proprietors from the Bogapani river to the exit of the 
Piy^ in at Dauki Bazar. The higher plateaux produce lemons of 
the best quality in profusion, but these are not largely exported. 
The exports of oranges from Sylhet during the last three years 
are shown below : 


1890-91 ... ... ... ... 1,06,854 

1891-92 ... ... ... «. 1,13,694 

1892-93 ... ... ... ... 25,259 

40. As might be expected from the character of its surface 
and climate, the area of forest in Assam is 
very extensive, and it is the home of many 

extremely valuable timber trees. The head of the Assam Valley. 
including the Lakhimpur district and part of the Sibsdgar and 
Darrang districts, is a forest country, the greater portion of the 
land not under cultivation being stocked with dense and chiefly 
evergreen forest. The middle and lower portion of the valley, 
on the other hand, is a comparatively open tract with vast expanses 
of grass savannah, and forest only in the vicinity of the hills, 
on the extensive tracts of high land and on the isolated hills which 
are found in this part of the valley. In the Surma Valley there 
is little forest in Sylhet, except on the southern hills stretching 
up from Tippera, and in the great valley of the Langai and Singla 
rivers, in the south-eastern corner, where there is a forest tract 
of 170 square miles. In Cacliar the whole of the south of the 
district bordering on the Lushai Hills, measuring more than 700 
square miles, is a forest reserve, whence the populous district of 
Sylhet draws its timber supply ; there are also 38 square miles of 
reserve in the north of this district. In the hill districts there is 
less good forest than might be expected, though there is no lack 
of wooded country ; the habits of the hill races do not permit 



Section 5. except ill isolated spots to -u'liicli their jhums have not extended, 
Commercial of tlie growtli of Valuable timber. Forest iires and jliuming have 
staphs. ([qy].^^{\q^ the interior of the hills, where the people chiefly live, 
of most of its forests ; but along the northern and southern skirts 
there are large areas of natural forest still untouched. The 
following is a statement of the forest area as it stood in each 
district on the 31st March 1893, classed either as (]) reserved 
or (2) unclassed forests in which no special measures of protection 
are in force, but Government asserts its right to the trees, and 
does not allow them to be felled without paj'inent : 



Goalpdra ... 

Kdrariip ... 

Darrang ... 

Nowgong ... 

Sibsagar ... 


Garo Hills 

Khasi andJaintia Hills 

Naga Hills 

The most valuable trees in the forests of Assam are ajhar 
{laqerstrcemia regince) and sam {artocarpus chaplasha), which are 
found throughout the Assam Valley, nahor (niesua ferrea)^ which 
does not grow in the plains of the Brahmaputra Valley west of 
the Mikir Hills, though common in the evergreen forests of the 
Gdro and Khasi Hills, sal {shorea rohusta), which is found only 
in the lower part of the valley, in Goalpdra, Kanirup, Darrang, 
and Nowgong, and the Gdro and Khasi Hills, sissu (daWergia sissoo) 
which is not found east of the Manas river, mir1 l-hgir (^acacia 
catechu), which extends eastwards to Charduar in Darrang. In 
the Surma Valley, 7iaho7' (there called nagesar), ajhar (there 



State forest 


. miles. 

Sq. miles, 






















cnWed. jar id), and cham (the sam of A&sam) are the most important Section 5. 

trees. Commercial 

The only trees which are important articles of export are sal^ "^ ^^' 
sam, and ajhar, which are largely floated down the Brahmaputra 
into Bengal, and from Cachar into Sylliet, chiefly for boat building. 
The exploitation of the Cachar forests for the service of Sylhet has 
alwaj's been active and is extending, while that of the Brahmaputra 
forests in Goalpara and Kamrup has lately appeared to be 
stationary. The upper part of the Assam Valley is too remote 
from a market for its timber resources to be yet regularly exploited ; 
the only use made of the forests is to yield posts and beams for 
house building, trees for <:Zzf^ow^5 (the only kind of boat made in 
the Brahmaputra Valley), charcoal, chiefly for tea manufacture, 
and soft woods for tea boxes. The time, however, will doubtless 
come when, with ' the improvement of communications and the 
spread of population, these valuable forests will play their part in 
the development of the province. 

The timber exported from Assam in 1892-93 was valued at 
Es. 11,76,234. 

41. Among the "commercial staples" of Assam, elephants 
^, . , should also be mentioned. These valua- 


ble animals abound in the forests of the 
Assam Valley, on the lower slopes of the Assam Hange, and in 
South Cachar and South-Eastern Sylhet. The Government khedda 
establishment from Dacca have annually hunted the Garo Uills 
forests for several years past, and large numbers of animals have 
been captured by this agency. When not required for the purposes 
of the Government khedda, the elephant mahdls (or right of hunt- 
ing within certain defined tracts) are leased by auction sale to the 
highest bidder. Besides the price of the mahdl, the lessee has to 
pay a royalty of Rs. 100 on each animal captured. In 1890-91 
259 elephants were caught by lessees, in 1891-92, 66, and in 
1892-93, 103. The number of elephants caught by lessees has 
been falling off' of late years, owing to the large captures effected 
by the Government khedda estabhshment, which have resulted 
in a considerable dechne in the market value of elephants. 




Section 6. 42. Tea is tlie only important article of manufacture in Assam. 

M^^m^ac- The total quantity of tea produced in 1892 

*"''''■ ^'^' is returned as 84,221,133 pounds, of which 

35 159,829 pounds were manufactured in the Surma Valley and 

49,061,304: pounds in the Assam Valley. A sketch of the tea 

industry has been given in the preceding section. 

43. In proceeding to consider the native manufactures of 

Assam, it is necessary to remember that the 
Native mamifactureB province posscsses no large cities where 

artisans can find scope for employment, and 
that the common industrial classes of other parts of India, such as 
carpenters, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, or masons, are represented 
in Assam by workers imported from Bengal, and paid at extremely 
high rates. The list of indigenous Assamese manufactures com- 
prises only silk, thread, and fabrics, coarse cotton fabrics woven 
mostly from imported thread, brass utensils, oil expressed from 
the seeds of mustard and til, coarse sugar^ a few kinds of jewellery, 
some ornamental articles in ivory, and common domestic pottery 
and agricultural implements. The Assamese, in fact, are singularly 
wanting in mechanical genius, and, although the occupation of an 
artisan is one of the most remunerative in the province, the indus- 
trial school established at Jorhdt has always suffered from a lack 
of appreciation by the people whom it was intended to benefit. 

44. The silk fabrics are the produce chiefly of the Assam 

Valley. The various kinds of silk have been 
described in the preceding section. It is 
difficult to say whether their production, on the whole, is increas- 
ing or decreasing. The common opinion is that it is largely on the 
decline, and this is probably true of the silk yielded by the pat 
or mulberry silkworms, which was more largely in vogue under the 
native Government of the Assam Valley than it is in the present 
day, when it is being supplanted by the cheaper tufisar of Bengal. 
The price of the i7iugd and eri silks has also risen fourfold within 
the last fifty years ; but this circumstance is probably 'due in part 


to the influx of money into the province, while it is by no means Sfxtion 6. 
certain that these silks were at any time more easily procurable Mamifac- 
than they are now. The earliest mention of them is to be found "''^^' 
in Muhammad Kasim's chronicle of Mir Jumla's invasion of Assam 
in 1GG2, and it was then observed that the silks, though good, 
were produced in quantities sufficient only for domestic consump- 
tion. This is exactly the case at the present time, and as the 
population of the Assam Valley is certainly greater now than it 
was in 1662, it would seem to follow that the production of silk 
is not less than it was in the most flourishing days of the Aliom 
kingdom. The muga silk is used as an article of dress by the 
wealthier classes in the Assam Valley, and is largely exported to 
the southern hills, where it is much sought after by the Gdros, 
Khdsis, and other hill tribes. Muga thread is also exported to 
Bengal. Eri silk is, perhaps, even more extensively manufactured 
than muga. Unlike the latter, it is not exported in the form of 
thread, but considerable quantities of the cloth are purchased by 
the Bhutia traders, who descend into the northern part of the 
Godlpara, Kamriip, and Darrang districts every winter. En cloth 
is now largely made up into coats, &c., for summer wear by 
Europeans, and the demand for it on this account is increasing 
every year. It is generally worn in the cold months by the 
peasantry of the Assam Valley. The thread is produced also by 
Kukis and Mikirs in the lower parts of the central range of Assam, 
and is woven into the striped cloths which form the ordinary 
dress of all the tribes inhabiting those highlands. It is impossible 
to give even an approximate estimate of the quantity of muga 
or eri produced annually in any part of the province. The value 
of eri thread is Us. 5 to Es. 7 per seer ; of muga thread, Es. 8 to 
Es. 12 ; while good gn' cloth sells at Ee. 1-8, and good m?^^^ at 
Es. 2-4 per square yard. The manufacture of both kinds of silk 
is purely domestic. There are no large filatures, nor is there any 
system of breeding the worms on an extensive scale. The raiyat 
breedM silkworms enough to yield him a few chhataks of thread, 
which he either weaves himself, or disposes of at the village fair. 
There is no regular trade in silk jarns or fabrics, nor any stated 
market where they can be bought in large quantities. 


Section 6. 45^ The cotton fabrics of Assam deserve no particular mention. 
Manufac- By tlie liill tribes and by the Miris in the plains, 

t tt VS S V^ O L L Oil • 

they are woven from cotton locally grown, 
and gaily coloured with native dcyes. Elsewhere English thread is 
generally used. A kind of rug or blanket is made by the Kukis and 
jNIiris, with cotton ticking on a backing of coarse cloth. The cotton 
cloths of the Nagas are very substantial and tastefully coloured. 

46. Brass utensils are made by the Morias, a low Muhammadan 

caste found chiefly in the districts of Sibsa^ar 

Brass. "^ p 

and JSTowgong. These are of the rudest kind, 
without any attempt at finish or ornamentation. A style of 
vessels somewhat superior to these is made at Gauhdti and at 
Sarthibdri in Kdmrup. 

47. The manufacture of mustard oil is of recent introduction. 

The mill used is the ordinary bullock-mill of 

Oil and sugar. ^ . 

Upper India, and is gradually supplantmg 
the domestic oil-press, which consists simply of a short beam 
loaded with a heavy stone. Gui\ or coarse sugar, is entirely an article 
of domestic manufacture. It is made by the rudest method, is never 
exported, and its consumption within the province is but small. 

48. The common jewellery of Assam is chimsy and ungraceful, 

consistinoj chiefly of pieces of coloured glass 

Jeweller}^. ° . ^ ^ , ^ 

roughly set m gold or silver. Some beautiful 
gold filigree-work is, however, made in Barpeta, and the art of 
enamelling is still preserved in Jorlidt. The Klidsi bracelets, neck- 
lets, and earrings in gold and silver are handsome ornaments, 
though somewhat heavy in design ; and the Manipuri jewellery, or 
similar patterns, is imitated in Sylhet. 

49. The district of Sylhet is noted for its ivory, mats, and fans, 

and the manufacture of shell-bracelets gives 

Sylhet manufactureH. .*, 

employment to a large number of artificers 
in the town of Sylhet. These bracelets are cut out as solid rings 
from large white conch-shells obtained from mau)^ places on the 
sea coast in and near India. They are of graceful appearance, 
and command a ready sale. In pargana Patharia, in this district, 
there is a considerable manufacture of agar attai\ a perfume 
distilled from the resinous sap of the agar tree {aquilaria 


agallocha). This perfume is much esteemed by Oriental nations, Section 7. 
and is exported, vid Calcutta, to Turkey and Arabia. Iron work Trade and 
inlaid with brass, talwdrs and ddos, and such like articles, are '^'^>>''"^'^^<^^- 
manufactured in Eajnagar and Lashkarpur in Sylhet. Boat 
buildinix is also carried on to a considerable extent in that district. 
Jorhdt, in the Sibsdgar district, still enjoys some local reputa- 
tion for its ornamental carved work in ivory. This town is also 
the only place in Assam where ornamental pottery is made. 

50. The. boat-making of Barpeta ought, perhaps, to be men- 

tioned in a catalo":ue of provincial industries. 

Boats. ° _ ^ ^ 

The roughly-hollowed logs are floated across 
from the Gdro Hills, and, after being further excavated till the 
thickness of the outer skin is reduced to about an inch and a 
quarter, they are subjected to a steaming process in the boat- 
builder's hands, being smeared with liquid mud and inverted over 
a line of burning embers. While thus softened, the future boat 
is widened by the insertion of thwarts. If, as usually happens, 
it splits in the process, the rent is patched with a piece of wood 
fastened in by clamps holding its bevelled edges to those of the 
aperture. In this way boats sixty feet long by six or seven feet 
in breadth are constructed, capable of lasting, if the wood be 
good forest timber, for ten years or even longer. The same 
process is followed elsewhere in the valley where boats are made. 
No such thing as a built boat has probably ever been attempted 
in the Brahmaputra Valley. 


51. In the preceding sections an account has been given of 

the most important commercial staples which 

Introductory, -^ ^ 

are produced in the province. It remains to 
describe the general course of provincial trade, the classes by 
whom it is conducted, the routes which it follows, and the markets 
where transactions are concluded. 

52. The trade of Assam is carried on in two different directions : 
fu'st, and chiefly, with the neighbouring 

Trade routes. 

Nature of trade in Assam. . « -r» i t ^^ • ^^ ^i 

provnice 01 Bengal ; and, secondly, with the 

foreign Stales and tribes which surround 


Section- 7. British territory on three sides. Both descriptions of trade are 
Trade and registered, the first at the stations of Dhubri on the Brahmaputra 
Commerce. ^^^^ Bhairab Bazar on the Surma, by -which channels nearly all 
the merchandise from or for Bengal enters or quits the province : 
and the second, either by special agency on the channels of 
communication, or by the collection of statistics at the various 
fairs or marts in the frontier districts to which the neisrhbourinoj 
tribesmen resort. 

The traffic conveyed by the boats and steamers that ply on the 
Brahmaputra and Surma represents by far the most important 
part of the trade between Bengal and Assam, in which as yet 
railwa3's have no share. A certain amount of road traffic also 
takes place, but this is not large enough to justify the retention 
of a special establishment for the purpose of registering it. 
Figures are, however, collected by the police at Sidli and Baida, 
but, as they receive no special pay for this work, the figures 
supplied are not very reliable. The river traffic is carried on 
both by boat and by steamer. Mail steamers run daily on the 
Brahmaputra river, between Dibrugarh and Goalundo, and on the 
Surma between Goalundo and Silchar during the rainy season 
and between Goalundo and Fenchuganj in the cold weather. A 
considerable amount of cargo is carried in these steamers, but 
special cargo steamers with large flats also run, and carry goods 
whose bulk renders them unsuitable for carriage by the smaller 
and more speedy mail steamers. Statistics of the goods carried 
by these vessels are transmitted by the companies to which they 
belong, through the Government of Bengal. 

The boat traffic is registered by special establishments, which 
were located in 1879 at the two points already mentioned. 1'lie 
quantity of the goods carried is all (except in a few instances) 
that these establishments record ; values are applied to these 
quantities in the offices of the Deputy Commissioners of Dhubri 
and Sylhet, according to the prices ruling for the articles at those 
stations. The figures furnished by the steamer companies are 
treated in the same way. 

Boats monopolise the greater part of the trade between Assam 
and Bengal in lime, rice, gram, kerosine and other oils, salt, sugar, 


tobacco, oranges, and potatoes, but the more expensive articles of Section 7. 
merchandise, such as tea, piece-goods, liquors, and metals, and Trade and 
also coal and mustard, are for the most part carried by steamer. 
A curious feature in the returns is that whereas in the Brahma- 
putra Valley in 1882-83 steamers carried 85 per cent, of the total 
value of the inter-provincial trade, in 1892-93 they carried only 
82*63 per cent., while in the Surma Valley the value of goods 
carried by steamer has increased from 45 per cent., at the 
commencement of the decade to 61*89 per cent, at its close. In 
the case of the latter valley, however, the increase in the propor- 
tional values of articles carried by steamer is more than accounted 
for by the traffic in a single article, tea. Not only is none of that 
article now carried by boat, but the total value of the tea exported 
has increased by more than the absolute increase in the value of 
goods carried by steamer. 

Taking the province as a whole, the value of goods carried by 
steamer has increased in the last ten years by 40 per cent., as 
against 50 per cent, in the case of goods carried by boat. 

53. Full details of the imports into, and exports from, Assam 
to foreign countries and to the neighbouring 
province of Bengal will be found in Part IIb 
of the General Administration Eeport. In 1892-93, the total value 
of the imports from foreign countries amounted to Es. 7,92,189, and 
that of the exports amounted to Es. 2,54,192. The total value of 
the trans-frontier trade was therefore Es. 10,46,381. Considerably 
more than half the imports were from Hill Tippera, and consisted 
mainly of timber, canes, and other forest produce. Next in value 
were the imports from Bhutan and Towang, amongst which blankets 
and ponies formed the most important items. Of the exports, the 
largest were those to Bhutan and Towang (chiefly rice and raw 
silk), and to Hill Tippera (salt). 

Turning to the inter-provincial trade, it may be noted that the 
imports aggregated Es. 3,17,81,690, and the exports Es. 6,30,48,969. 
In the following table, statistics are given showing the imports 
and exports from each valley separately, and the form of carriage 
used : 




[Chap. I. 

Section 7. 

Trade and 














































1— 1 










































<— 1 







































































































»— 4 









' ■ ■ ■■ 


























I— T 































1— H 





























j:i • 


-^ <o 

3 . 


^ y 







1" - 


The principal imports into the Brahmaputra Valley were rice, Section 7. 
salt, gram and pulse, kerosine-oil, iron and sugar, while salt, gram, Trade and 
kerosine-oil and pulse, sugar, tobacco, and coal and coke figured 
most largely amongst the Surma Valley imports. Of the exports 
from the Brahmaputra Valley, coal and coke, rape and mustard- 
seed, timber, tea, raw jute, and rice in the husk, were the most 
important, and rice in the husk, lime, bamboo, and tea from the 
Surma Valley. Eice in the husk (paddy) is exported from the 
Brahmaputra Valley, and husked rice is imported. Lime forms 
one of the most important articles of export from the Surma Valley, 
while in the Brahmaputra Valley a considerable quantity of the 
same commoditj'- is imported from Bengal. 

54. The classes who conduct the trade of the province are 
_ ,. , different in the two valleys. In both, tea, the 

Trading classes. / 

great export of Assam, is consigned straight 
from the gardens where it is produced to Calcutta, either to be sold 
there or shipped to England for sale. But almost all the rest of 
the export traffic, and nearly the whole of the import traffic, of the 
Assam Valley is in the hands of Marwari traders, commonly called 
Kaiyas, who not only manage the wholesale, but to a very large 
extent the retail, trade of the valley. Besides these, there are a 
few Muhammadan merchants from Dacca, who have settlements 
in the chief centres ; but their transactions are small compared 
with those of the Kaiyas. It is very remarkable to notice the 
complete mastery of the internal commerce of the valley which 
these strangers possess. The native Assamese hardly ever engages 
in anything more extensive than petty shopkeeping, and this only 
in the western portion of the valley. But the Marwari is found, 
keen to buy and sell, wherever money is to be made ; he settles 
himself not only in the populous villages of the inhabited region, 
but in the midst of the jungle, on the paths leading to the mountains 
from which the wild tribes come ; and it is exclusively with him 
that these visitors do business. 

In the Surma Valley the conditions are different. Here there 
are comparatively few Marwaris, though they are not altogether 
absent. The native population contains a large trading element, 
and merchants from Dacca are more numerous than in Assam. 




Section 7. jn the hill districts there are considerable differences in the 
Trade and cxtent to whicli the pcoplc themsclves engage in trade. In most 
of these tracts, traffic is a necessary of life, the hills not producing 
sufficient food for the people to live upon ; but in most also it 
takes the simple form of barter, the exports consisting chiefly of 
cotton, wax, ivory, and forest produce, and the imports of rice, 
salt, dried fish, and cloth. But in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills 
there is a much more active commerce. The valuable staples of 
this tract have already been mentioned, and the trade in them is 
kept by the people almost entirely in their own hands. Many of 
them are adventurous merchants, travelling as far as Dacca, or 
even Calcutta, during the cold season. In the Ndga Hills, too, the 
Angdmi Ndgas, who occupy the central region, though producing 
nothing of commercial importance themselves, do a thriving 
business as carriers between Manipur and Assam, and spend much 
money in the markets of the plains in the purchase of articles of 
use or luxury for themselves. 

55, All over the province there are weekly lidts, or markets, on 
stated dates, where bu5^ers and sellers meet. 

Trading centres. 

and most of the business is done. Except at 
a few places, there are no permanent hdzdrs. During the cold 
weather, fairs are held along the foot of the hills which mark the 
frontier, and to these the hillmen come down with their produce. 
The most important permanent centres of commerce are Goalpara, 
Barpeta, Eangia, Gauhdti, Kalaigaon, Tezpur, Nowgong, Chappar- 
mukh, Bishndth, Golaghdt, Jorhtit, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, and 
Sadiya, in the Assam Valley ; and Habiganj, Ajmiriganj, Sundmganj, 
Chhdtak, Bdldganj, Sylhet, and Silchar in the Surma Valley. The 
cold-weather fairs for frontier trade are held at Udalguri, Kher- 
kheria, and Daimdra in the Darrang district for the Bhutias ; and 
at Sadiya in the Lakhimpur district for the Abors, Mishmis, 
Khdmptis, and Singphos. Besides these places, the Bhutias resort 
largely to various marts in North Kdmrup, the Akds and Daflas to 
Tezpur, the Daflas and Miris to Lakhimpur, and the southern 
Ndgas to Jaipur and Goldghdt. In the Surma Valley, Barkhola 
is the chief mart for North Cachar, Jaintiapur for the Jaintia Hills, 
and Lakhat, Bhoh'iganj, and several other smaller markets to the 


east for the Klitisi Hills. The Lushais are mainly served by a Section- 8. 
bdziir at Changsil, where there are a few shops kept by Bengalis mIh^s and 
from Silchar. The Manipur trade is chiefly carried on at Lakhipiir, ^^'"'^''"^^• 
and that with Hill Tippera down the rivers which emerge from 
that country into Sylhet. 


56. In the section dealing with the geology of the province 

some account has been given of the most 

General remarks. . •inn-* 

important minerals found in Assam, viz,, coal 
and limestone. Iron occurs in the metamorphic and sub-metamor- 
pliic rocks of the Shillong plateau, and is found in small quantities, 
in the form of nodular masses of clay ironstone, in the neighbour- 
hood of the coal of the Makum field. Petroleum springs exist in 
the same locality. Gold was anciently washed in the rivers of 
Upper Assam, but the industry is not now found to be worth 
pursuing. Salt springs exist in several parts of the Bardil-Pdtkoi 
section of the Assam Eange. 

57. The mineral of the first economic importance to Assam is 

undoubtedly the coal which is found on the 
• north-western face of the Eastern Xaga Hills. 

Upper Assam. o- t i r> i 

Situated as these fields are, near the upper 
terminus of steam navigation on the Brahmaputra, it had long 
been recognised that their successful exploitation would effect a 
revolution in the carrying trade by steamers on that river, which 
formerly depended on Kaniganj for their fuel supply. The exist- 
ence of coal here has been known since 1825. The question of 
opening out the fields was reported on by a coal committee, as- 
sembled at Calcutta in 1840 and 1845. The locahties were summarily 
examined by Mr. Medlicott, of the Geological Survey, in 1865, and 
in the seasons 1874-75 and 1875-76 Mr. Mallet, of the same Survey, 
made a careful inspection of all the coal outcrops from the Tirdp 
to the Desoi river. His report, which contains a detailed descrip- 
tion of the several fields, will be found in Volume XII of the 
Memoirs of the Geological Survey. The coal measures extend 
along a distance of about 110 miles, but are exposed only where 


Section- 8. ii^q river valleys have cut into them. Five coal-fields have been 
Mijies and described and named by Mr. Mallet, viz., the Makum, Jaipur, 
Minera s. -jvij-^^ira (Dildiu and Safrai), Jlianzi, and Desoi fields. Besides these, 
in the further extension of the Ndga Hills up the Dihing Valley to 
the frontiers of Burma, there are other known, but not regularly- 
explored, localities where coal occurs. The most important is the 
Makum field on the Dihing river, where the seams reach an 
immense thickness. Several desultory attempts had, from time to 
time, been made to work the coal there, but, owing to difficulties 
of labour and transport due to the uninhabited character of the 
country, and the difficult navigation of the Dihing river, no large 
quantity had, at any time, been brought out, until some ten years 
ago, when the mine was leased to the Assam Eailways and 
Trading Company, and a railway was constructed from the Brah- 
maputra at Dibrugarh to the coal measures on the Dihing. Since 

that time the mines have been vigorously 
tons, worked, and the output of coal has risen 
J890 '.!i 145,708 Steadily. The coal, which is of excellent 

J^^.^ ••• }g^'yj5 quality, not surpassed by any and equalled 

by few coals in India, is now exclusively used 
by the steamers navigating the Brahmaputra. Local requirements 
in the Brahmaputra Valley are entirely met by it, and in addition 
large quantities are exported for consumption in ocean-going 
steamers and other purposes. 

A portion of the Dikhu or Nazira field, situated a short distance 
within the hills south of Sibsagar, whence that river issues, is held 
on lease by the Assam Company, but, except for the needs of the 
lessees, has not yet been worked to any extent. In fact, since 
1888 no coal at all has been extracted from this field. The other 
outcrops, the Jaipur field in the Dihing, which is very favourably 
situated for working, and the Jhanzi and Desoi fields, which are 
less accessible from the plains, have not yet been exploited. 

58. The only other localities where coal has been found in 
„ , 1 rr, , . TT-,, the province are situated in the Gdro and 

Garo and Khasi Hills. ^ 

the Khdsi and Jaintia Hills. As already 
noticed, this coal is of two very distinct kinds, the older or cretaceous 



coal, and the newer or nummulitic coal. The greatest deposits Section 8. 
are those of the former in the coal-field of Darranggiri, on the Mines and 
Someswari river, in the Gdro Hills. This field (which has been 
described in the " Records of the Geological Survey," Volume 
XV, page 175) is situated north of the main axis of the Garo 
Hills, on either side of the gorge through which the river makes its 
way to the plains. It has been estimated to contain 76 milhon 
tons of good workable coal. At the exit of the Jadukata river, 
near the western boundary of the Khdsi Hills, cretaceous coal is 
found ahnost at the level of the plains, and the coal-bearing rocks 
are exposed over an area of 30 square miles, so that there is a 
large amount of coal available here in a very accessible situation. 
A tramway might be laid from the Darranggiri field to the 
plains of Mymensingh without much difficulty, and would bring 
within reach of a market a very large supply of coal. With these 
exceptions, both the cretaceous and the nummulitic coal in the 
Khdsi Hills are found in small confined areas, which may be 
described as pockets, representing original depressions in the 
surface where the forests grew or woody matter accumulated. 
The seams soon thin out, and no very extensive supply from any 
one place can be reckoned on. The largest of these minor fields 
are those at Cherra Punji and Lakadong. The last estimate of 
the available coal (nummulitic) in the Cherra coal-field places 
it from 1,200,000 to 1,370,000 tons (" Eecords of the Geological 
Survey," Volume XXH, page 167), so that it would be exhausted 
in less than ten years if extracted at the rate now attained at 
Makum. Another obstacle in the way of working it is the eleva- 
tion at which the coal is found, and the consequent cost and 
difficulty which would be involved in transporting it to the plains. 
The coal, however, is of excellent quality, and is one of the few 
Indian coals which can be used with absolute safety on board 
ocean-going steamers. The Lakadong coal-field is situated near 


the southern edge of the Jaintia Hills, about 7 miles from the 
plains, at Barghat on the Hari river. It was last visited in 
1890 by Mr. T. D. LaTouche, whose report will be found in the 
*' Kecords of the Geological Survey," Volume XXIII, page 14. The 



Sections, field is calculated to contain about 1,1G4,000 tons of coal, ^Yllich, 
Mines and like that of Clicrra Punji, belongs to the nummulitic or lower 
eocene division of the tertiary formation. The elevation of this 
field is 2,200 feet, or about half of that at Cherra Punji. 

59. Iron exists in Assam, as in most other parts of India, in 
great quantity and in various forms ; but the 
competition of English iron, "vyitli the exhaus- 
tion of the supplies of fuel which supported the native furnaces, 
has almost extinguished the indigenous industry in the Khdsi 
Hills ; while in Sibsdgar, where in the days of the Assam Eajas 
iron-smelting was extensively practised, and the great iron cannon 
for which Assam was once famous were forged, the art ha^ 
completely ceased to exist. The Khdsi Hills iron, which is still 
made in small quantities and exported to the submontane bdzdrs,. 
is derived from the minute crystals of titaniferous iron ore, which 
are found in the decomposed granite on the surface of the central 
dyke of that rock, near the highest portion of the plateau. The 
decomposed granite is rolled down into a stream, where it is 
washed to separate the iron-sand, which is collected in wooden 
troufdis, dried, and reduced with charcoal in small furnaces. The 
quality of the iron is excellent, and it is still sought after to some' 
extent for manufacture into hoes and dhaos ; but it cannot be 
doubted that the industry must soon die out. Its s^reat extension 
in former times is evidenced by the remains of smelting furnaces 
which cover the surface for many miles, from the brow of the 
hill below Cherra Punji as far north as Molim and beyond. The 
slao- from these workings supplied a considerable portion of the 
metal for the cart road between Cherra and Shillong. 

In Upper Assam, clay ironstone occurs in nodules of various 
sizes, and sometimes in thin beds, interstratified with shales and 
sandstones, in the coal measures of the NAga Hills ; but it is 
believed that the ore is not in sufficient abundance to aflord a 
supply for a blast furnace on the English principle ; while the 
scarcity of limestone required to form a flux would, even if the ore 
were in greater quantity, probably form an insuperable obstacle 
to operations on a large scale. The company who have the 


concession of the Makum coal-field liave also the monopoly of the Section 8. 
iron of that region, but have hitherto made no attempt to work Mines and 
it. The iron ore formerly smelted in Sibs:lgar was derived both ^^^"^''''^^• 
from the clay ironstones in the coal measures (chiefly those of the 
Nazira field), and from the impure limonite which occurs in great 
abundance in the Tipani rocks south of the Dhodar Ali ; the 
former was the source most used. 

60. Pyritous shales are also found associated with the coal 

. j^ measures of Upper Assam ; and it may, 

perhaps, hereafter be found profitable to use 
them for the manufacture of alum and copperas. 

61. Petroleum is found in the neighbourhood of the coal of 
Petroleum Upper Assam. It is a heavy oil, containing 

a comparatively small proportion of the light 
illuminating hydro-carbons, in which respect it could not compete 
with the imported oils. For lubricating purposes, however, and 
for yielding solid paraffine, it is beheved that it will prove valuable. 
The earliest experiments in working it were made at Nahor Pung, 
in the Jaipur field (where they were a failure) and near Makum, 
when a considerable amount of oil was extracted in 1868. A 
concession for working petroleum in the Makum field was granted 
to the Assam Eailways and Trading Company in 1882-83, and two 
similar concessions in the same neighbourhood have recently been 
granted — one to the company already mentioned, and the other 
to a syndicate. Borings have been made by both concessionaires, 
and petroleum has been extracted, but their operations have not 
yet resulted in any considerable extraction of oil. In fact, the 
only field which has been at all properly worked up to date is the 
second concession of the Assam Eailways and Trading Company, 
the output from which in 1892 amounted to slightly over 19,000 

Besides the petroleum of Upper Assam, this mineral is also 
found in Cachar. It occurs on the banks of the Bardk, at Mdsim- 
pur, where the Tilain range crosses the river, and near Badarpur, 
where the Sirispur hills run up to the stream from the south ; it has 
besides been detected at various places along these ridges, which 



Section 8. ^^yq Y^^vt of tlio prolongation into tlie Surma Valley of the Arakan 
Mines a7ii meridional ranges. It has also been found north of the Bardk, on 
the Ldrang, a small stream issuing from the Baniil range north of 
Kalain, and joining the Surma near Lebharpota. Spechnens 
of petroleum from these localities have been sent for examination 
to Calcutta, but no active steps have been taken to utilise it. 

62. Salt-springs are found in conjunction with petroleum in 

the Upper Assam coal area, at Borhat, Jaipur, 
and other places. In former times their 
brine was largely nsed for conversion into merchantable salt ; and 
to this day a small quantity of salt so made (the brine being boiled 
down in joints of bamboo) is imported by the Nagas into Jaipur. 
Salt-springs exist in Cachar, both in the southern ranges (Sirispur 
and Bliuban hills) and in the Bardil, Those in the Haildkdndi 
Valley, in mauzas Bansbari and Chandipur, are the only ones 
which are now worked, though formerly the industry was more 
extensive. The springs are leased annually for a trifling sum ; 
the brine is not boiled down, the water being disposed of in gharas 
to the people of the neighbouring villages. Several salt-springs 
are worked in Manipur, where they are highly valued. 

63. Next in importance to coal in this province are the vast 

stores of limestone which exist on the 


southern face of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, 
where the downward bendin<:j strata of the nummnlitic rocks 
have been worked as a lime-supply from a period long anterior 
to British rule. " Sylliet lime " was a monopoly of the Mogul 
Governors of Bengal, and, as such, figures in the early sanads, 
Jarmans, and treaties by which the East India Company acquired 
command over that province. The limestone is found from the exit 
of the Someswari river in the Garo Hills to that of the Ilari river 
in Jaintia ; but it can only be economically quarried in the neigh- 
bourhood of the small State Railway which riins from Tharia to 
Companyganj, or where facilities for water carriage exist, that is, 
where rivers navigable by boats in the rains adjoin the rock faces 
whence the stone is hewn. The most important of these quarries 
are those situated on the Jadukata and Bunatirth rivers, which 



debouch near Laur in Sylliet ; the Dwdra quarries to the east of Section 8. 
these ; the Cheyla or SheHa quarries, on the Bogapani ; the Mdolong, Mine^< and 
Byrang, Sohbar, and Borpunji quarries, which He immediately 
under Cherrapunji ; and the Utma quarries a httle to the east 
on an affluent of the Piydin. Those beyond have rarely been 
worked, the advantages possessed by the quarries nearer the great 
limestone marts of Chhutak and Sundmganj enabling the latter to 
undersell them. Altogether, there are 34 limestone tracts which 
are separately treated as quarries in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, 
one in Sylhet, and one in the Garo Hills. The Government is the 
sole proprietor of all the quarries in the Jaintia and Garo Hills 
andtlie one in Sylhet, as well as of four in the Khasi Hills ; the 
remainder (with one exceptiou) are the joint property of the Khasi 
rulers or communities and the British Government, the latter 
administering the estates and reaping half the profits. 

Owing to the depression in the lime trade, and the consequent 
decline in the Government revenue from the quarries, a special 
enquiry was made in 1889 by the Director of Land Kecords, as 
the result of which all the small quarries in the Khasi Hills were 
closed for five years, and the five principal quarries only (Sohbar, 
Borpunji, and Sheila under the permit system, and Langrin and 
Nongstoin under lease) were kept open for work. In consequence 
of this step, the revenue from the quarries rose from Rs. 13,580 in 
1889-90 to Es. 17,646 in 1890-91. In 1892-93, the revenue 
amounted to Rs. 15,536. 

The stone is quarried chiefly during the dry months, and either 
carried by rail to Companyganj, whence it is taken by boat to 
Chhdtak, or rolled down to the river banks and conveyed over the 
rapids, which occur before the rivers issue on the plains, in small 
boats when the hill streams are in flood during the rains. Below, 
the rapids it is generally reloaded on larger boats, and carried 
down to the Surma river, on the banks of which it is burnt into 
lime during the cold weather. The kilns are of a primitive descrip- 
tion, being mere excavations in the river bank, faced and roofed 
with clay. The fuel used consists of the reeds and grasses of 
the swampy tract which stretches along the foot of the hills. This 

I 2 



Section 8. industry gives employment to a great mimber of people, the 
Mines and quarriers being generally Kliiisis, and the boatmen and hme-burners 
Bengalis of Sylhet. For the last three years the exports of lime 
from Sylhet to Bengal (all of which is derived from this source) 
have been as follows : 

1890-91 ... ... ... ... 18,04,197 

1891-92 ... ... ... ... 18,26,675 

1892-93 ... ... ... ... 13,14,161 

Limestone is also found exposed in the Doigrung, a tributary 
of the Dhansiri, a few miles south of Golaghdt. A description of 
this formation, which still remains unworked, will be found in the 
" Records of the Geological Survey," Volume XVII, page 31. 

64. The rivers of Assam which have yielded gold are those of 
the Darrang and Lakhimpur districts north 
of the Brahmaputra, the Brahmaputra itself 
in its upper course, the JSToa and Buri Dihings, and a small stream 
called the Jaglo, which rises in the Tiptim Hills and falls into the 
Buri Dihing. In the Sibsdgar district the Dhansiri, Disoi, and 
Jlianzi rivers are said to have been auriferous. Of these streams, 
the Bhoroli, Dikrang, and Subansiri in Darrang and Lakhimpur 
appear to have formerly given the largest quantities. The gold in 
these rivers is probably doubly derivative, being washed out of the 
tertiary sandstones of the sub-Himalayan formations, themselves 
the result of the denudation of the crystalline rocks in the interior 
of the chain. The industry was maintained in the time of the 
Assam Rajas by the peculiar system of taxation which then pre-- 
vailed, each class of the population being bound to contribute in 
kind or labour to the State. The Sonwals, or gold-washers, were 
taxed at four annas' weight, or four rupees' worth, of gold per 
annum. Since the British occupation of the country, the pursuit 
of the precious metal has dwindled almost to nothing, and the lease 
of the gold-washings in North Lakhimpur has of late years been sold 
for Rs. 5 or Pis. 6 a year. In 1882, a European speculator obtained 

Chap. I.] rnrsiCAL features, etc. 6i 

a monopoly for ten years of the right of seeking gold in the Suban- Section 8. 
siri and its tributaries, but his operations were not attended with Mines and 
success. This concession has recently again been granted to other ^^"'^''"'^^' 
persons, and it is hoped that the work will be more vigorously 
prosecuted than on previous occasions. 

65. Platinum has been noticed with samples of gold obtained 
from washings in the Noa Dihinor river, and 

Platinum. . . .-, , , .^ . -,, -, -, p 

it IS possible that, if specially searched for, it 
might be found in large quantities (" Eecords of the Geological 
Survey," Volume XV, page 54), 


Section :. 

CHiPTEE, 11. 
Historical Summary. 

66. The different portions of territory included in tlie province 
of Assam were formerly quite distinct, and 

Assam IntroduclOry. ^.^ , . . , , , 

Proper. liave Qiiierent histories ; they were brought 

under British Administration at different times and in different 
waj^s, and it is, therefore, necessary to treat them separately before 
proceeding to describe the present organization of the province. 
This chapter is accordingly divided into sections, summarising the 
history of the following areas : 

I. Assam Proper, that is, the five districts of Kdmriip, 
Darrang, Nowgong, Sibsdgar, and Lakhimpur. 

II. Goalpdra, including the Eastern Dudrs. 

III. Cachar. 

IV, Sylhet, including Jaintia. 
V. The hill districts, viz., — 

(3) North Cacbar. 

(]) The Garo Hills. 
('^>> The Khasi „ 

(4) The Ndga Hills. 


67. The history of so much of the valley of the Brahmaputra 
as belongs to the modern province of Assam 

The ancient Kdinarupa. . • i j. u • vi i.i i.i e ^^ 

may be said to begin with the growth of the 
Koch power upon its western frontier, and the invasion of the 
Ahoms in the east. From such hints and glimpses of the country 
as can be gathered from the Tantras and Purans, and other 
ancient writings, it appears certain that, while the bulk of the 
inhabitants have always been of non- Aryan origin, the colonisation 
or conquest of parts of the valley by Aryan settlers began at an 
early date. Krishna is said to have carried away his bride 


Eukmini from her father Bhismaka, king of Kundilya, the name Section i. 
of whose kingdom survives in the Kundil river to the east of J^ 
Sadiya, while the memory of the monarch is still preserved in ^''"per. 
Upper Assam. Krislma's son, Anirudha, captwred Sronitpur, now 
called Tezpur, the capital of Eaja Ban, and carried off his daughter 
Uslia.* Still more famous than Eaja Ban was his contemporary, 
Narak, who ruled in Gauhdti, and is famed in Hindu mytholoo-y as 
the guardian of KdmAkhyd and the conqueror of Ghatak, the king of 
the Kirats, He is said to have been the son of the earth by Vishnu, 
and for a long time enjoyed the favour of his celestial proo-enitor. 
But success turned his head, and his pride and waywardness at 
length gave such offence to Yishnu, that he was slain by him in 
the incarnation of Krishna. His son Bhogdatta is renowned for 
his zeal in propagating the Hindu religion, and is said to have 
given his daughter in marriage to Duryodhana and to have fallen 
in the battle of Kurukshetra, fighting on the Kauravas' side. 
Later on, we find a king of Kdmarupa sending a present of ele- 
phants to the hero of the Baghuvansa, and again when Hiouen 
Thsang visited India, Kdmarupa is mentioned as a country famous 
for these animals. Kdmarupa is described in the Jogini Tantra as 
extending from the Karatuya to the eastern boundary of the 
Brahmaputra Valley. f Its ancient divisions were Kampith, from 
the Karatuya to the Sankosh, Eatnapith, from the Sankosh to the 
Eupohi in the present district of Kdmriip, Suvarnapith from the 
Eupohi to the Bhoroli, and Saumarpith, from the latter river to the 
eastern end of the valley. The name Kdmarupa, however, varied 
greatly in its territorial signification from time to time. Between 
these legendary notices of Assam and the beginnings of what may 
be called history, a gap of about a thousand years intervenes ; but 
the Hindu religion would seem to have existed uninterruptedly 
during this interval at various points in the valley, whether pro- 
fessed by pure Aryans, or, as is more likely, by communities of 
mixed descent, or by converted non- Aryan tribes. A Sudra king, 

o The adventures of Krishna and tlie life of Narak aro described in Chapters 3G-42 
of the Knlika Purun, and on paj^e 81 of the Jogini Tantra. Raghuvansa, IV — 81. 
f Jogini Tantra, page 76. 


Section i. named Debeswar, reigned in Gaulidti, a place wliicli the proximity 
Assam of the sacred hill Nilachal has always rendered notable. The 
Proper, ^gj^^pig Qf Kdmdkliyd on its summit is of comparatively modern 
origin, but rests on foundations reputed to be as old as the first 
introduction of the Hindu religion into the valley of the 
Brahmaputra. In Tezpur we find Eaja Nagasankar, who built the 
temple of Biswanath, and whose descendant, Jongal Balahu, 
was defeated in battle by the Kachari Eaja, near Eolia on 
the Kopili.* 

When Hiouen Thsang visited the country in 640 A.D., a prince, 
named Kumdr Bhdskara Barman, was on the throne. The people 
are described as being of small stature, with dark yellow com- 
plexions ; they were fierce in appearance, but upright and studious. 
Hinduism was the State religion, and the number of Buddhists was 
very small. The soil was deep and fertile, and the towns were 
surrounded by moats with water brought from rivers or banked 
up lakes. f 

68. Subsequently, we read of Pdl rulers in Assam. It is sup- 
posed that these kings were Buddhist, and 
^ '"'^'^' belonged to the Pal dynasty of Bengal, The 

latter supposition is strengthened by the recent discovery at Benares 
of a copper plate, on which is inscribed a deed of gift of some 
land in the neighbourhood of Pragjyotisha (Gauhdti) by Kumdra 
Pdl, son of Edma Pdl and grandson of Vigraha Pdl, the name of 
the two latter being synonymous with those of two of the later 
kings of the Bengal line of Pdls.J The fact that Deva Pdl (who 
ruled from about 895 to 915 A.D.) conquered Kdmarupa§ furnishes 
another reason for supposing that the Assam Pdls were a branch 
of the royal family ruling in Bengal, even if they were not lineal 
descendants of that dynasty. It should, however, be noted that 
" Pdl " was not an uncommon title at the period under discussion ; 
it was the designation of many of the Bdro Bhuiyds, and was also 

* Gunabhiram's Asam Baraiyi, page 48. 

f Deal's " Buddhist Records of the "Western "World," "Volume II, page 19G. 
X Phis copper plate, which bears a date equivalent to 1105 A.D., was deciphered by 
Professor Venis of the Government Sanskrit College at Benares. 
§ " J(jurnal of the Asiatic Society o£ Bengal," 1878, page 407. 


borne by an Aryan dynasty reigning over Kundilya, or the country Sfxtion i. 
about Sadiya. Assam 

69. After the fall of the Pal dynasty, the Khyen tribe under ''°^^^' 

Niladhwaj rose to power, and thus became 

Khyen dynasty. i p 1 • c t t^ , ^ 

worthy or the attention or the Brahmans.* 
Niladhwaj became a Hindu, and ordered that his caste should 
thenceforth be known as " High Sudra." Fie was succeeded by his 
son Chakradhwaj, who was followed by Nilambar, the last king 
of this line. Nildmbar quarrelled with his councillor, a Brahman 
named Suchi Patra, and the latter fled to the Nawab of Gaur, and 
persuaded him to invade the country. The result was Husan 
Shah's invasion, and the fall of the capital, Kamatdpur, in 1498 
A.D.f The remains of this old city are still traceable, near the 
Dharld, in the State of Koch Bihar.J 

70. Although the whole of Kamarupa appears from time to 

time to have been united into one kine^dom 

Baro Bhuiyds. <• i ■, 

under some unusually powerful monarch, 
it was more often split up into numerous petty States, each of 
which, under its own chief, was practically independent of the 
rest, and this was once more the condition of the country after 
the defeat of Nildmbar. About this time, two brothers, Chandan 
and Madan, ruled for a few years at Mardlavas, some miles north 
of Kamatapur,§ and the twelve chiefs, known as the Bdro 
Bhuiyds, were exercising sovereign rights in Kdmrup and 

The settlement of the Bhuiyds in Assam is detailed in the Gu7m 
Chaintra, in which work it is said that they were introduced by 
a king named Durlabh Ndrdyan, who appears to have held sway 
in Godlpdra and Kdmrup, but whose lineage is still uncertain.. 
This king engaged in war with a Hindu prince, who called himself 
Gaureswar, or " the ruler of Gaur." Durlabh was victorious, and, 

• Gunabhiram's Asam Buranji, pages 52-54. 

•f The Musalman accounts of the fall of Kamatapur have been reprciluccd by 
Blochmann in the " Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal " for 1872, pages I'J and 
336, and 1874, page 281 . 

:{; The ruins are described by Buchanan Hamilton, whose account is reproduced in 
Dr. Hunter's " Statistical Account of Koch Bihar," page 3G2. 

§ Hunter's " Statistical Account of Koch Bihar," page 407. 



Section- i. qu the conclusion of hostilities, obtained seven families of Brah- 
Assam mans and seven of Kavasthas under twelve acknowledi^ed heads, 
' ^'''' the chief of whom was a Kiiyastha, named Chandibar, alias 
Debidds. These people were settled by Durlabh Nardyan in the 
country between Hdjo and the Bornadi, and soon became powerful 
feudatories. The date assigned to their advent in Assam corre- 
sponds to the year 1220 AD.* Their leader Chandibar was the 
lineal ancestor of the celebrated Assamese rehgious reformer 
Sankar Deb. 

71. Nearly three centuries before the fall of Kamatdpur, an 
event occurred at the eastern extremity of 

The Ahoms. , ^. ■, • ■, t • ^ i .n 

the valley, which was destined to change the 
whole course of Assam history. -j* This was the invasion of the 
Ahoms. The Ahoms were Shans, from the ancient Shan kingdom 
of Pong, whose capital, Mogaung, still exists in the upper portion 
of the valley of the Irrawaddy. A quarrel as to the right of 
succession to the throne is said to have been the cause of the 
secession of Chukapha, one of the rival claimants, who, after 
wandering about the country between the Irrawaddy and the 
Patkoi mountains for some years, at length crossed the range and 
entered Assam with a small following. This was in the year 1228 
A.D. The Ahoms found the country into which they descended 
peopled by small settlements of Morans and Borahis, people of the 
Bodo race, whom they had no difficulty in subduing. There was, 
however, a Chutia kingdom of considerable power in the back- 
ground, which had absorbed the ancient Pal dynasty of Sadiya, 

*' This seema too early. Chandibar was Sankar Deb's great-great-grandfather, and we 
have every reason for believing that the tradition that Sankar Deb was born in 1440A.D. 
is approximately correct. Allowing twenty-five years a generation, it would seem 
that Chandibar could not well have come to Assam before 1300A.D. at the earliest. 

■f Tbo above account of the Ahoms is taken from Kasinath Tamuli Phukan's 
As'im Buranji, which was compiled about 1840 A.D., under the orders of Raja Purandar 
Singh. The Ahoms appear to have possessed the historical faculty to a very considerable 
extent, and many of their leading families maintained chronicles of important events. 
Our infcjrmution regarding Ahom history would have been much fuller than it is 
but for an act of literary iconoclasm in the reign of Rajeswar Singh (1751-1768), when 
many of these family histories were destroyed, owing to some remarks adverse to the 
Prime Minister having been made in a history produced by Numali Bar Phukan. 


and in so doing liad adopted tlie Hindu religion, and imported an SEcrio:^ i. 
Aryan strain into the royal blood by the marriage of the Pal king's Assam 
daughter with the Chutia prince who succeeded him. The Cliutia ^''"P'^^- 
dynasty at that time reigned at Sadi3^a and at Eangpur in the 
Sibsagar district, but their dominions did not extend uninterrupted- 
ly between the two places, nor did they reach very far back to- 
wards the southern hills, and tlie Ahoms consequently had room 
in which to develop themselves, for a considerable time, before 
coming into collision with the actual possessors of Upper Assam. 
Within the narrow limits of a territory corresponding to the 
south-eastern portion of Lakhimpur and part of the Sibsagar 
districts, the Aliom kings succeeded each other with great regula- 
rity, governing through the means of their chief officers of State, 
whose names and the dates of their appointments are duly 
chronicled in the native histories of Assam, together with the 
names of the kings and their dates of accession. We read that 
in 1350 A.D. the Chutia king invited his Ahom neighbour to a 
boat race on the Safrai river, and there treacherously captured 
and murdered him ; but the final struggle between Ahom and 
Chutia for the supremacy of Upper Assam did not take place until 
a century and a half later. Meanwhile, the Ahoms, extending 
their power along the south bank of the Brahmaputra, drove the 
Kacharis back to the Kopili and Dhansiri Valleys, and thus touched 
the Koch power on the west, as they touched the Chutia power on 
the south-east. The three powers between which the contest for 
the Assam Valley lay were the Koch, the Ahom, and the Chutia. 
72. We have seen that, after the fall of Nilambar, the eastern 
portion of Kdmarupa was split up into 
° ' numerous petty States, each of which was 

ruled by its own chief. Amongst these, the Koch kings rapidly 
forced their way to the front.* The legend runs that Hajo Koch 

* The story as related here follows the Bangsuhali of Raja Laksluni Narayan Knar 
of Howli Molianpiir. This Bangsdbali, is inscribed on oblong strips of sacli bark, each 
strip being illustrated. It is supposed to have been written under the orders of Kaja 
Sumudra Narayan about 1806 A.D. This version diflEers in some respects from accounts 
given elsewhere, but seems, on the whole, to be the most trustworthy narrative 



Section i . had two daughters, Hira and Jira, whom he married to Haria 
Zllm Mandal, a Mech. Hira was an incarnation of Bhagavati, and was 
Proper. ^..g-^.g^^| ^^ g^y^ in the guise of Haria Mandah The offspring- of 
this intercourse was a son, Bisu, who consoHdated the power of 
his tribe, and defeated the Bc4ro Bhuiyiis, who had become powerful 
during the reign of Nilambar. He became a Hindu, taking the 
name of Biswa Singh, and imported Baidik Brahmans from Sylhet 
in the place of the KdUtas, who were previously the priests of his 
tribe. He made an abortive attempt to invade the country of the 
Ahoms, but was more successful in the internal management of his 
kinfrdom. He settled the different offices of State, and established 
his army on a secure basis. During his reign, the Ahoms attacked 
the Chutias, and, after several campaigns of varied fortune, 
defeated and slew the Chutia king, seized his capital, and over- 
threw the Chutia dominion in Upper Assam for ever. His son, 
Nar Narayan, succeeded him about 1528 A.D., and at once 
•commenced a series of expeditions against the neighbouring powers. 
He defeated the Ahoms, and made them tributary to him ; and his 
brother Sukladhwaj, alias SiLarai, subsequently conquered the 
kin<TS of Hiramba (Cachar), Jaintia, and Sylhet, but was defeated 
and made prisoner by the Musalman ruler of Gaur. Silarai's 
son, Kaghu, was adopted by Nar Narayan as his successor. 
Then Silarai died, and Nar Narayan begat a son of his own, named 
Lakshmi, whereupon Eaghu, fearing that he would lose the succes- 
sion, broke out in rebelUon. The armies met, but a peace was 
concluded without bloodshed ; the kingdom was divided into two 
parts, Eaghu taking the portion east of the Sankosh, while the 
part west of , that river was reserved for Nar Nardyan's son 
Lakshmi. This division of the kingdom took place about 1581 A.D. 
Eaghu was succeeded by his son Parikshit, who fought with 
and defeated Lakshmi. The latter then invoked the aid of the 
Emperor of Delhi, by whose troops the former was in his turn 
defeated and made prisoner. His brother, Balit Ndrdyan, fled 
to the Ahom Edja Swarga Narjiyan, who sent an army against 
the Musalmans, and drove them across the Karatuya. From that 
time, the independent rule of the Koch kings ceased. Balit 

Chap. 11.3 niSTOEICAL SUiniARY. 69 

Nardyan became a tributary of the Alioms, and the western branch Section i. 
succumbed to the Musahiians. Assam 

73. The Musalman invasions of the Brahmaputra Valley all ''"^^^' 
bear the character of temporary success due 

Musalman invasions. . , ,. . . 

to superior arms and discipline, and ultimate 
failure induced by the unfavourable nature of the climate, ignorance 
of the country, want of communications, and the impossibility 
of repairing losses by reinforcements.* The first expedition of 
the kind was despatched after the overthrow of the kingdom of 
Kamatapur, under a leader recorded in Assamese history as 
Turbuk, who fought his way as far as Koliabar, and was then 
defeated and destroyed. A second invasion occurred about the 
middle of the sixteenth century. The leader of this expedition 
was Kala Paliar, an apostate from Hinduism, whose chief object 
appears to have been the destruction of Hindu temples, and to 
him is ascribed j;lie spoliation of the old temples at Hajo and 
Kamakhyd. The next invasion was that, already referred to, 
in which Parikshit was overthrown, and this was followed later 
by another (in 1637) in which Balit Narayan was slain, and the 
rule of the Musalmans was extended as far as Gauhcdti. The 
last and greatest invasion was that undertaken by Mir Jumla in 
1660-62. He captured the capital of the Ahoms, and is said to 
have sent word to the Emperor that the next campaign would 
carry him to the confines of China ; but his force melted away in 
the rains, and he was obhged to retreat with the loss of all his guns. 
The ultimate result of this disastrous invasion was to strengthen 
the hold of the Ahoms on Lower Assam, and their rule was shortly 
afterwards extended to Gauhati, at which place an Ahora Gover- 
nor was stationed, until near the end of the eighteenth century, 
when it became the headquarters of the Ahom kings. 

74. Before the last Muhammadan invasion, the Ahoms had 
been largely converted to the Hindu religion. 

Fall of the Ahom r^^^ • • i i . • 

kingdom. J- 1^6 reignmg monarch became a convert in 

1655 A.D,, and adopted the name of Jayad- 
waja Singh, and henceforward all the Ahom kings bear both 

* The accounts of these invasions, furnisl:ecl by Musalman historians, have been 
collected by Blochraann in an article in the "Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal " 
for 1872. 


Section i. Aliom and Hindu names. There were now no rivals to the Ahoms 
AJZ'm i^ the Assam Valley. The Kacharis had been defeated just before 
Proper. ]\j-j, j^nila's iuvasion, and the Eajas of Darrang and Bijni had 
become tributary to the Ahom power on the fall of the Koch 
monarchy. In 1695, Rudra Singh, the greatest of the Ahom kings, 
ascended the throne. His dominions comprised the whole of tlie 
Bralmiaputra Valley, so far as it was inhabited, except a strip of 
submontane territory claimed by the Bhutias. In 1780, Gaurinath 
Singh succeeded to the throne. His reign was marked chiefly by 
a formidable rising of the Moamarias, a powerful religious sect. 
Gaurinath, being hard-pressed, applied in his extremity to Mr. 
Eausch, a salt farmer at Goalpara. Mr. Eausch, it is said, sent 
a body of 700 sipahis to Gaurinath's aid, but these sipahis were 
cut to pieces by the Moamarias. The Eaja of Manipur also sent 
an armed force to Gaurinath's assistance, but the Manipuris 
were likewise defeated. At this juncture, the king of Darrang, 
Krishna Ndrdyan, taking advantage of (Taurinath's distress, made an 
attack upon Gauhati, whither Gaurinath had retired. Gaurinath 
again applied to Mr. Eausch for help, and also sent a deputation 
to Calcutta. At the close of 1792 the British Government sent a 
detachment, under the command of Captain Welsh, to assist 
Gaurinath.* Captain Welsh defeated Krishna Narayan, put down 
the Moamaria insurrection, and reduced the whole valley to 
obedience. He was, however, recalled in 1794. A few months 
later Gaurinath died. He was succeeded by Kamaleswar Singh, 
who was a mere puppet in the hands of his minister. He died in 
1809, and was succeeded by his brother, Chandra Kanta Singh. 
The reign of this prince was marked by the appearance of the 
Burmese in Assam. Chandra Kanta, having quarrelled with his 
minister, the Bura Gohain, applied for aid to the Burmese. The 
Burmese entered Assam with a force with which the Assamese 
were utterly unable to cope. Shortly afterwards, however, the 
Burmese retired, when the Bura Gohain deposed Chandra Kanta 
and set up Purandar Singh. Chandra Kdnta again applied to the 
Burmese, who sent an army and reinstated him. In 1819, 

* A full account of Captain Welsh's expedition has been given by Sir J. Johnston in 
a pamphlet published by the Foreign Department some years ago. 


Purandar Singh applied for aid to tlie Lritisli Government, but Section i. 
was refused. Chandra Ktinta, however, quarrelled with the Assam\ 
Burmese, who finally expelled him from Assam, and he sought ^^P^^' 
refuge with the British officers at Goalpara. But at this juncture 
matters had come to a crisis between the British and tlia Burmese, 
and on the 5th March 1824 war was declared against Burma.* 
A British force, advancing with a gunboat flotilla, conquered the 
valley as far as Koliabar, and during the next cold season com- 
pleted the subjugation of the rest. Finally, on the 24th February 
1826, the Burmese, by the treaty of Yandaboo, ceded Assam to 
the East India Company. 

75. For some time after the conquest, it was still doubtful 

whether the Company would retain in their 

Commencement of I3ii- j^ands or not the province they had won. 

tish rule. '^ •' 

Mr. Scott, the Commissioner of North-East 
Eangpur, administered the country. Captain White being appointed 
in 1827 to assist him in Lower Assam, and Captain Neufville in 
1828 to have charge under him of Upper Assam. The Moamarias, 
who had contributed so largely to the downfall of the Ahom 
power, and whose country (known as Matak) was the present 
district of Dibrugarh south of the Brahmaputra, were left under 
their own ruler, styled the Bor Senapati, who in May 1826 
executed an agreement of allegiance to the British Government. 
And the Khampti chief of Sadiya, called the Sadiya-khoa, on the 
15th of the same month, was confirmed as the Company's feuda- 
tory in possession of that district. 

At first, the civil and criminal duties of Assam Proper were 
performed by councils of the Assamese gentry, called panchdyats, 
of which there were two or three in each district of the province. 
In judicial cases Captains White and Neufville were both Magis- 
trates and Judges, trying the accused with the assistance of a 
panchdyat, but referring all heinous cases, with their opinions, 
to Mr. Scott for final judgment.f 

* A full account of tlie Burmese war, so far as Assam is concerned, will be found in 
Robinson's " Descriptive Account of Assam," published in 1841, pages 180-188. 

t The information in this and the next paragraph is taken from Robinson's 
" Descriptive Account of Assam," pages 207-211. 


Section i. ij/q^ In 1S33 the districts of Sibsdgar and Lakhimpur north of 
Assam the Brahmaputra were placed under the 

Proper. Enie of Pnrandar Singh administration of Rai a Purandar Sincrh, who 

in Upper Assam. ^ ° ^ _ 

executed a treaty binding himself to -adminis- 
ter the country upon the principles of justice established in their 
territories by the East India Company, to act according to the 
advice of the Political Agent stationed in his principality, and to 
pay an annual tribute of Rs. 50,000. Thus, of Assam Proper there 
remained British in 1833 only the districts of Kamrup, Nowgong, 
and Darrang (which then only extended to and included Bishndth, 
beyond which was Lakhimpur, subject to Purandar Singh). 

77. In 1835, Act II of that year was passed, which placed 

all functionaries in British Assam under the 

ThoAssana Cude. . • • -i j 

control and supermtendence, m civil and 
criminal cases, of the Sadr Court, and in revenue cases under that 
of the Board of Revenue, Lower Provinces, and further declared 
that such superintendence should be exercised in conformity with 
the instructions which these functionaries might receive from the 
Government of Fort William in Bengal. Under this Act, rules 
for the administration of Assam were framed by the Commis- 
sioner, revised by the Sadr Court, and finally issued by that Court 
with the sanction of Government in 1837. They applied not only to 
Assam Proper, but also [vide the next section) to Godlptira. These 
rules consisted of extracts from the Bengal Regulations of all that 
was considered at that time suitable to the circumstances and 
necessary for the proper administration of Assam. They were, 
however, merely rules of judicial procedure. They declared 
what courts, civil and criminal, should be established, and the mode 
of appointing officers thereto ; they declared the jurisdiction of 
these courts, and provided for appeals ; they prescribed a period 
of limitation for the institution of civil suits and a procedure to 
be followed in mortgage cases ; they provided also for the appoint- 
ment of vakils, the establishment and remuneration of process- 
servers, and the keeping of judicial registers and records. They 
established in each district a summary suit court, to be presided 
over generally by the Assistant in charge of the district (now called 
the Deputy Oommigsioner) in his capacity of Collector ; they also 


established an office for the registry of deeds. Lastly, in all cases Section i. 
not specially provided for in the rules, officers were directed to Assam 
conform, as nearly as the circumstances of the province would 
permit, to the provisions of the Bengal Regulations, and in all 
doubtful matters of a judicial nature to refer for instructions to 
the Sadr Court. The Police Law of Assam was at the same time 
declared to be Eegulation XX of 1817, with certain modifications. 

In 1839, a few supplementary civil rules were issued by the 
Sadr Court with the sanction of Government, the .effect of which 
was to give to Junior Assistants (now called Assistant Commis- 
sioners) and Sub- Assistants (now called Extra Assistant Commis- 
sioners) a greater share in the judicial administration of the 
country than was allowed to them by the rules of 1837 ; and in the 
same year an officer, styled Deputy Commissioner (whose designa- 
tion was in 1861 changed to that of Judicial Commissioner), was 
appointed to relieve the Commissioner of his duties as Civil and 
Sessions Judge. 

78. In October 1838, the territories which had been placed in 

charge of Parandar Singh were resumed by 

ReBumptionof Upper ^|^g Government of India. The Edja had 

Assam. -^ 

fallen deeply into arrears with his tribute, 
and declared himself unable any longer to carry on the adminis- 
tration. At first, the officers placed in charge of this tract acted 
under the direct orders of the Government of India in the Foreign 
Department ; but in July 1839 a proclamation was issued by the 
Governor General in Council annexing the territory to Bengal, 
dividing it into two districts, Sibsdgar and Lakhimpur, and direct- 
ing that these two districts should be administered in the same 
manner as the districts of Lower Assam. In August 1842 
another proclamation was issued, annexing the territory of the 
Bor Sena])ati, who had died in 1839, and whose son refused to 
accept the management of the country on the terms offered to 
him. Sadiya, the district of the Khdmpti chief, was, by the same 
proclamation, incorporated with the rest of the province. This 
place had been the scene of a rising of the Khdmptis in 1839. 
They treacherously attacked the station of Sadiya, and killed the 



Section- i. Political Agent, Colonel White. The combination was not broken 
;; UD and dispersed till many lives had been lost. The son of the 

Assam i- ■•• .."... 

Proper. Sadiya-klioa, for his comphcity in this rebellion, was exiled with his 
followers to Narayanpur, on the Dikrang, in the west of the 
Lakhimpur district, where the colony still exists. 

Thus, from 1842, the whole of Assam Proper was under the 
same system of administration, save that in Lakhimpur, including 
Matak and Sadiya, an establishment of panchdyat courts was, 
for special reasons, maintained, to which persons of rank and 
influence in the district were appointed, without much regard to 
their judicial qualifications. This special panchdyat system was 
abolished in 1860. 

79. In that year. Act VIII of 1859 (the Civil Procedure Code) 

and the Limitation Act (XIV of 1859) were 

Extension of general extended to the wholc of Assam Proper and 

laws to Assam. -•■ 

Goalpara. In 1861 the Criminal Procedure 
Code of that year was extended to the province, and in 1862 the 
Police Act (V of 1861). In 1862, also, the Penal Code came into 
force in the province without special extension. By these measures 
the Assam Code of 1837 (which had been meanwhile revised in 
1847) was superseded. In 1861 the designations of the officers 
serving in the province under the Commissioner were changed, with 
the sanction of the Government of India, as follows : the Deputy 
Commissioner became Judicial Commissioner, the Senior or 
Principal Assistants Deputy Commissioners, the Junior Assistants 
Assistant Commissioners, and the Sub- Assistants Extra Assistant 
Commissioners. Side by side with these officers, there existed in 
the province a separate judicial establishment, consisting of one 
Principal Sadr Amin, two Sadr Amins, and ten Munsifs. In 
March 1872 this branch of the service was entirely abolished ; 
several of the Munsifs were created Extra Assistant Commis- 
sioners, and the ordinary district staff were invested with civil 
judicial powers, the Deputy Cv)mmissioner becoming Subordinate 
Judge and the Assistant and Extra Assistant Commissioners 
Munsifs This arrangement is substantially that which now 

Chap. II.] niSTomcAL summary. 75 


80. This district consists of two very distinct portions : the Section 2. 

permanently settled part, comprising the ColTfuira. 
'^^ ^ "" ^'^^' three tlianas of Goalpara, Dliubri, and Karai- 

bari ; and the temporarily settled part, called the Eastern Dudrs. 
The first tract was originally a portion of the district of Rangpur, 
and, as such, was included in the province of Bengal, which, by the 
Mogul Emperor's ya?v7i/f?z of the 12tli August 1765, became part of 
the dominions of the East India Company. Like the neighbouring 
district of Kamriip, this tract was inhabited chiefly by Koches, 
Meches, or Kacharis. It formed part of the dominions of the Koch 
dynasty, the rise and fall of which have already been described 
and passed out of their hands on the defeat of Parikshit, when it 
became a Musalman province. 

On its southern border, the Godlpdra district marches with the 
Garo Hills, and the thana of Karaibari, which stretches southwards 
from Dhubri, is almost wholly composed of hilly country inhabited 
by Garos. These mountaineers were, in the early period of our 
rule, a terror to the people of the plains ; and the chiefs of the 
border country, who had to restrain their incursions, were allowed 
in return for this duty to hold their estates at a very light revenue. 
Thus, it happened that when the decennial settlement of Bengal 
was made, the few great zamindars among whom the permanently- 
settled portion of Godlpjira was divided were assessed at an almost 
nominal amount. It is somewhat doubtful whether this assessment 
was ever formally converted into a permanent charge ; but these 
estates have uniformly been treated as covered by the permanent 
settlement of Bengal. 

81. Shortly after this settlement, however, it became manifest 

that the zamindars of the plains country, 

Eegulation X of 1822. . , ^ . t i< .i \ 

instead of provmg guardians or the peace 01 
the border, were rather likely, by their oppressions and exactions, 
to foster strife with the Garos of the hills, whose raids were con- 
stantly provoked by the treatment they received from the land- 
holders to whose markets they resorted. In order to check these 



Section 2. exactions, and to promote the growth of order and civili sation 
Goalpara. amongst the hill people, it was deemed necessary to place this tract 
under a special form of administration. Then in 1822, a Eegnla- 
tion (Xo. X) was passed by the Governor General in Council, 
exempting the three thanas of north-eastern Eangpur from the 
operation of the General Regulations, and placing them under the 
control of a Special Civil Commissioner. Mr. David Scott was the 
first official entrusted with the charge ; and he took into his own 
hands the collection of the rents claimed by the zaminddrs from 
the Garo villages, paying over to them the proceeds, after deduct- 
ing the costs of collection and administration. At the same time, 
the duties levied by the zaminddrs on the hill produce (chiefly 
cotton) were commuted to an annual payment by Government, and 
abolished. Government recouping itself by imposing a special house 
assessment upon the Garo villages. 

82. When Assam Proper was conquered from the Burmese in 

l826, Mr. Scott became Commissioner of the 

Incorporation in Assam ^^^ province, witli wliicli Goalpara was 

incorporated as a sej^arate district ; and from 

that date until 1866 it remained a portion of Assam, and w^as 

administered on the same system as the rest of the province. 

83. In 18G6, the Eastern Duars, a thinly peopled but extensive 

tract alonsj the base of the Himalayas north 

Transfer to Koch Bihar. ^ -^ , 

of permanently-settled Godlpdra, which had 
previously been under the rule of the Deb Edja of Bhutan, was 
annexed by the British Government on the conclusion of the 
Bhutan war. For some little time these Dudrs were a separate 
district ; but in 1867 the Bengal Commissionership of Koch Bihar 
was formed, and from the 1st January of that year the Eastern 
Dudrs were joined to Goalpara, and the entire district was included 
in that Commissionership, the Commissioner having the powers of 
a Civil and Sessions Judge within his jurisdiction. In October 
1868, the judicial administration of Godlp^ra and the Gdro Hills 
was taken away from the Commissioner of Koch Bihar, because of 
the inconvenient distance of this tract of country from his head- 
quarters, and placed in the hands of the Judicial Commissioner of 


Assam. The executive control, however, remained, as before, with Section 3. 
the Commissioner of Koch Bihar. In 1869, the Guro Hills were Cachar. 
formed into a separate district by Act XXII of that year, which 
repealed Regulation X of 1822, but still exempted the hills from 
the operation of the General Eegulations. In the same year the 
Eastern Dudrs were similarly deregulationised by Act XVI of 1869. 
Finally, when the Chief Commissionership of Assam was 
formed in February 1874, the district of Godlpdra and the Eastern 
Dudrs, and the district of the Gdro Hills were retransferred to 


84. The early history of Cachar, or Hiramba, is extremely 
obscure. Although it bears the same name 

Early history. . p i t-» i i • pa 

as a section or the i5odo population or Assam, 
the part of the district south of the Barail was not until some two 
hundred years ago in the possession of the race now called 
Kachdris, It would appear that it belonged to the kingdom of 
Tippera, or Tripura, since it is stated to have been acquired by 
the Kachdri king, who had his capital at Maibong, as a dowry 
upon his marriage with a Tippera princess. The Tipperas, how- 
ever, are undoubtedly, as is proved by their language, themselves 
of the Bodo stock, and very near kinsmen, not only of the Kachd- 
ris of North Cachar, but also of those of the Brahmaputra Valley 
and of the Gdros of the Garo Hills. Their true history, like that 
of the Kachdri kings of Dimapur, Maibong, and Khdspur, has been 
lost in the fugitive memory of a barbarous people, unacquainted 
with letters, and has been further darkened by the fictitious 
genealogies which have been invented for them by Brahman 
priests on their reception within the pale of Hinduism. 

It is, however, certain that the last native king of Cachar was 
the descendant of a Hne of princes who came originally from the 
Assam Valley. Their deserted capital, Dimapur, on the Dhansiri 
river, beneath the Angdmi Naga Hills, contains some very striking 
monuments, the meaning and purpose of which have much per- 
plexed explorers, and a number of large and fine tanks. From this 


Section- 3. ^[iq^ i;^q^ buried ill dense jungle, the Kacluiri kings were forced, 
Cachar. by tlie aggressious of the Ahoms on the north and of the Angumi 
Nao-as on the south, to remove into the interior of the hills, and 
took up their abode at Maibong, on the Mahur river. While settled 
there, about the beginning or middle of the seventeenth century, the 
Kachari king married a daughter of the Tippera Etija, and received 
the valley of Cachar as her dowr}^ And some time between 1700 
and 1750 the court was transferred from the hills, across the 
Barail, to Khaspur, on the Madhura river in the plains. Here the 
Kachari rulers found themselves in presence of an already settled 
population of Hindus and Musalmans from Sylhet, who had over- 
flowed from that district into the valley. The process of Hindui- 
sation had probably already commenced at Maibong, at least 
among the royal family and the court, if not among the Kachari 
population. At Khaspur it proceeded rapidly ; and in 1790 the 
formal. act of conversion took place, the E^ja Krishna Chandra 
and his brother, Govind Chandra, entering the body of a copper 
image of a cow, and emerging therefrom as Hindus and Kshatriyas. 
A genealogy of a hundred generations, reaching to Bhima, the hero 
of the Mahdhhdrata, was composed for them by the Brahmans, only 
the last nine or ten names in which have probably any claim to 
represent real personages. 

85. In the beginning of the present century the valley of 
Cachar became tlie scene of a struggle for 

Taken under British , ^.^ -mt • • -u i.i 

protection. Supremacy between the Manipuri brothers, 

Marjit, Chaurjit, and Gambhir Singh, who 
had been driven from their own country by the Burmese. Krishna 
Chandra had died in 1813, and Govind Chandra succeeded him. 
The Manipuri invaders speedily overran the country, and set at 
naught the feeble authority of the Kachari king. In 1823 Mdrjit 
held the Ilaihikdndi valley, and Gambhir Singh the rest of South 
Cachar. Tlie Burmese were then in Assam, and, as lords of 
Manipur (which they had conquered from Mdrjit in 1819), threat- 
ened to annex Cachar. This the British Government, seeing the 
danger which it would cause to Sylhet, decided to prevent. 
Negotiations were first entered on with a view to an alliance with 



tlie Manipuri brothers. These overtures fell through, and it was Section - 
resolved to take up the cause of Govind Chandra, who was, with cZhar 
the Edja of Jaintia, taken under British protection. The Burmese 
armies, which had advanced both from Assam and Manipur, were 
driven out, and Govind Chandra was replaced on the throne. A 
treaty was executed on the 6th March 1824, by which the Eaja 
placed himself under British protection, and agreed to pay a tribute 
of Es. 10,000.* Govind Chandra's reign after his restoration was 
very short; he was assassinated in 1830, and, as he left no heir, 
either natural or adopted, the country was annexed by proclama- 
tion on the 14th August 1832. 

86. In its subsequent history Cachar much resembles Assam. 
^ .,. , , Act YI of 1835 (hke Act II of that year in 

British rule. ^ •^ 

the Assam Yalley) placed it under the 
control of the Sadr Court and Board of Eevenue. It was adminis- 
tered from the first by a Superintendent, who in 1833 was vested 
with the powers of a Magistrate and Collector ; and in the same 
year it was transferred from the supervision of the Commissioner 
of Assam to that of the Commissioner of Dacca. It differs from 
Assam in never having had any special code of administrative 
rules drawn up for it ; the officers in charge applied " the spirit of 
the Eegulations " inSacriti^g ^it]i judicial matters. The Civil 
Procedure Code and Ln^'P^^ion Act were formally extended to the 
district in 1859; in l8o2 the Criminal Procedure Code was 
extended, and the Penal Code came into force. A special pecu- 
liarity of the Cachar revenue system, which is a survival from 
native rule, will be noticed in Chapter IV, section 1, 

Since Cachar became British territory, the only important 
political events which have marked its history have been the 
Lushai raids of 1849 and subsequent years, which will be discussed 
in the section dealing with the Lushais. In the Mutiny of 1857 the 
sepoys of the 34th Native Infantry, who mutinied in Chittagong in 
November of that year, were met in Cachar, and were defeated 
and dispersed by the Sylhet Light Infantry. 

* It is commonly asserted that the Burmese were driven out of Cachar in the course 
of the first Burmese war. These events, however, occurred before the formal declaration 
of war (5th March 182-4). 



Sylhet and S7. Of Sjlliet uiicler its early Hindu rulers hardly anything is 
3^"^'^^^^- known. It is believed that its native popula- 

tion is largely made up of non- Aryan tribes, 
probably of the same race as the Bodo Tipperas who now inhabit 
the hills on its southern margin. The Eajas who held the country 
at the date of the Musalman conquest, the chief of whom was 
Gaur Govind, who ruled the south and centre, while the Raja of 
Laur, under the Khasi Hills, governed the north, had evidently, 
from their names, been taken up into Hinduism, and the country 
colonised by Brahmans, who gradually extended their proselytising 
operations. The district was conquered by the Muhammadan 
kings of Bengal in 1384 A.D., the invaders being led by a spiritual 
chief named Shah Jalal, whose shrine at Sylhet is still famous. 
Laur and Jaintia, under the hills, retained their independence 
during the rule of the Bengal kings. After the absorption of that 
province in the Mogul Empire under AVi"u:i', iLiiJir became a depend- 
ent principality. The last Hindu Rti^ a of Laur embraced Muham- 
madanism at Delhi in Aurangzeb's reign. Todar Mai assessed 
Sylhet (excluding Jaintia, which was? ^"'^v conquered by the 
Moguls, and Laur) at Rs. I,67,0i0, am as ruled continuously 

from that date, until, it passed into i /, hands of the East India 
Company with the rest of Bengal in 17G5, by a succession of Amils 
subordinate to the Nawab of Dacca. 

The district was included in the decennial settlement of Bengal, 
which afterwards became permanent in 1793, but the operation 
of assessment was conducted in an exceptional manner, each hold- 
ing being separately measured and settled upon fixed rates. Thus, 
in Sylhet, the permanent settlement assumed a form which it bears 
nowhere else, except perhaps in Chittagong. It was the policy of 
the Collector, Mr. J. Willes, to put aside the chaudhuris, or zamin- 
dars, who elsewhere obtained settlement, and to deal direct with 
the better class of raiyats or mirasddrs. The result is that the settle- 
ment is in great part a permanent raiyatwari one, the area which 
each holding should contain being (so far as the records have been 



preserved and can be trusted) accurately known. All land not Section 4. 
included in the permanent settlement, or not subsequently settled Syiiiet and 
in perpetuity, is neld on temporary leases. 

The history of Sylhet since the permanent settlement has not 
been eventful. The depredations of the Khdsis on the north were 
brought to a close by the occupation of the station of Cherra Punji 
in 1828 ; and those of the Lushais on the south were stopped, so 
far as Sylhet is concerned, by the expedition of 1871-72. 

88. The Edja of Jaintia, a Chief of Khdsi Hneage, was found by 
us, on the annexation of the district, in 

Jaintia. . » pi- . ^ • 

possession of a tract of plains country lying 
between the town of Sylhet and the Cachar border, and measuring 
about 450 square miles, in addition to his hill territory stretching 
from the foot of the hills overlooking the Surma Valley to the 
Kalang river in Nowgong. At the same time that Cachar was 
taken under British protection, in March 1824, a treaty was made 
with Eam Singh, the Raja of Jaintia, by which he acknowledged 
allegiance to the Company, and promised to aid in the military 
operations then commenced against the Burmese in Assam. In 
1832 four British subjects were seized by Chattar Singh, chief of 
Gobha, under the orders of the heir-apparent, Rajendra Singh, and 
th.ree of them were sacrificed to Kali, the tutelary goddess of the 
Raja's family. One escaped, and gave information of the outrage, 
which led to a demand by the British Government for the surrender 
of the culprits. Negotiations went on for two years without any 
result. In November 1832 Ram Singh died, and Rajendra Singh 
succeeded him ; and it was finally resolved to punish this atrocious 
crime (which had been preceded by similar outrages in 1821, 1827, 
and 1832) by dispossessing the Rdja of his territory in the plains, 
and confining him thenceforth to the hilly tract. On the 15th 
March 1835 formal possession was taken of Jaintiapur, and the 
annexation of the plains territory proclaimed by Colonel Lister ; 
in April the district of Gobha was similarly annexed to Nowgong 
in Assam. Upon this, the Raja declared himself unwilling to 
continue in possession of his hill territory, over which he had but 
little control, and it thus also became included in the Company's 




Section 5. dominions. The population of the plains of Jaintia, like that of 
The Hill Cachar, is made up of Sylhet rai3^ats, with but a slight leaven of 
settlers from the hills. 


89. The history of the Gjiro Hills has already been partly touched 

, „.„ upon in the account given of the Goc41pdra 

I. GAro Hills. : . , . 

district, in which, up to 1866, they were, 

80 far as British administration extended, included. These hills, 
peopled by a wild race nearly akin to the Meches or Kacharis of 
the plains, were surrounded on all sides except the east by the 
estates of the great frontier zaminddrs or chaudhuris of Eangpur 
and Mymensingh. The Garos were in the habit of resorting to the 
markets in the plains estates of these zamindars for the sale of 
their cotton and the purchase of the supplies they needed ; and the 
police' of the border was maintained, and taxation levied on the 
hill produce, by the zaminddrs by means of harkanddzes whom they 
established at these marts. The chief of these chaudhuris were 
those of Mechpara, Kalumdlupara, and Karaibtiri in Eangpur, and 
Sherpur and Shushang in Mymensingh. The Gdros, like most of 
the wild tribes of the north-east frontier, lived in a state of con- 
stant internecine warfare, and it was a necessary ceremony at the 
funeral of a great chief to bury with him as many human heads as 
could be procured for the purpose, and, if possible, to put to death 
on the occasion living captives. The border was thus vexed 
by constant raids for the purpose of obtaining heads or prisoners ; 
and the exactions of the plains zaminddrs at the submontane hats 
likewise furnished frequent occasions for quarrel. 

Under the Moguls, the chaudhuris of the border paid their 
assessment in elephants, cotton, and agar wood to the Jaujddr of 
Eangamati, midway between Godlpdra and Dhubri. After the 
Company obtained the Diivdni, a sazdwal, or contractor, was 
annually appointed, who took the place of the faujddr, and made 
his own arrangements with the chaudhuris. Until 1787 the revenue 
of these landlords continued to be paid, as before, in kind. Cash 


payments were introduced in 1788, and the permanent settlement Section 5. 
shortly afterwards followed. The Hill 

90. In 1775, the chaudhuris of Mechpdra and Karaibdri, to 

avenge some Gdro raids of more tlian usual 
brou^ght within zlmindYiV Severity, invaded the hills bordering on their 
^^**^^' respective estates, and entered on a career of 

conquest. They remained two or ihree years in the hills, and 
brought the tribes of a large tract entirely under their control. 
The zaminddr of Karaibdri, Mahendra Ndrdyan, was especially 
successful in establishing his influence over the south-western 
portion of the hills, and when the Company called his proceedings 
in question, defied them from his fastnesses. After a long course 
of warfare with other chaudhuris and with the chiefs of the interior, 
Mahendra Ndrdyan's estates were at last sold by the Company for 
arrears of revenue, and his influence gradually dwindled. 

91. Meantime the raids of the Gdros on the plains continued, 

and in 1816 Mr. David Scott was deputed to 
Mr. Scott's proposals, report on the best means of preserving the 

peace of the frontier. He found that at that 
time the frontier zaminddrs had for the most part succeeded in 
reducing a greater or smaller area on their borders to a state of 
subjection, the largest conquests being those made by Karaibdri 
and Mechpdra; beyond these areas thus incorporated in their 
zaminddris, the chaudhuris had so far estabUshed their influence 
that several villages in the interior paid them tribute. Beyond 
these, again, in the heart of the hills, were the independent or 
bemalwa Gdros. Mr. Scott proposed to s«iparate all the tributary 
Gdros (from whom, and from the independent villages beyond, the 
raids proceeded) from the zaminddr's control, and take them under 
Government management, compensating the zaminddrs for any 
losses which they might show that they had sustained ; to appoint 
the chiefs of the villages thus brought under our jurisdiction to be 
responsible for the peace and the collection of revenue ; and to 
bring the submontane hats under Government control, all duties 
being abolished there, except upon independent Gdros frequenting 
them. These proposals were approved by Government, and after- 



Sections, ^ards embodied in Eegulation X of 1822, which gave Mr. Scott^ 
The Hill who was appointed Special Commissioner, authority to extend 


British administration over other Garo communities which miMit 
be still independent, and exempted the whole tract (together with 
the district of Godlpdra) from the operation of the General Regula- 
tions. After the passing of the Regulation, Mr. Scott proceeded 
to conclude engagements with the independent chiefs, and no 
fewer than 121 of those living west of the Someswari are said to 
have entered into terms with him. 

92. Mr. Scott was shortly afterwards called away from his 

work among the Garos to assume the admini- 
Affairs eiibseqnent to gtration of Assam and the Eastern Frontier 

Regulation X ot 1822. 

generally, and his place was taken by the 
Principal Assistant of Godlpdra, who was aided by a Gdro Sarbarah- 
kdr with his headquarters at Singhimdri, situated nearly opposite 
the middle of the western face of the hills. For many years the 
British Government maintained a policy of non-interference with 
the interior of the hills. The tributary Garos within paid with 
great irregularity the tribute which they had agreed upon. Eaids 
were frequent, and were followed either by expeditions or by 
blockade of the submontane markets — measures which were found 
to be quite ineffectual to stop them. Some little influence was 
occasionally brought to bear upon the tributary Gdros through 
visits paid to them by the Principal Assistant of GoalpAra; but 
these annual tours were not regularly carried out, as designed by 
Mr. Scott, and any intermission in them was followed by an 
increase in the number of raids. 

93. For all these years it was believed that the climate of the 
EBtabliebment of a ^^^^^^ ^^^ SO deadly that no European could 

Deputy Commissioner survivc witliin them, and that it was imprac- 

Avithin the hills. . ^ 

ticable to attempt any establishment of a 
permanent post in their midst. At last, in 18G6, after two expe- 
ditions to punish raids on the side of Mymensingh of more than 
usual atrocity, the Government for the first time resolved to 
appoint a special officer to the charge of the hills. Lieutenant 
WilHamson was selected for this purpose, and was estabUshed on 



a spur of the Tura mountain, with a special armed police force. Section 5. 
Shortly after, in 1869, Act XXII of that year was passed, which ThTHill 
enabled the Lieutenant-Governor to make special provision for the ^''*'''^^^- 
administration of the district, and to prevent the collection by 
zamindars or other persons of tributes, cesses, or other exactions 
in the hills. By this Act, Regulation X of 1822 was repealed. 
That Regulation had applied only to North-East Eangpur, after- 
wards the Godlpara district. The Act of 1869 included Mymen- 
singh, on Mdiich side also zamindari influence had been pushed into 
the hills, and had provoked retaliation by the hillmen. 

This experiment proved completely successful. The Deputy 
Commissioner of the Gdro Hills and his police force brouo-ht almost 
instant quiet to the district. Hearty aid was given to him by the 
Gdros, and the headmen, relieved from the dread of retaliatory 
feuds, at once began to perform their duty, to deliver up offenders, 
and to enforce the payment of revenue. Raids ceased, and numer- 
ous villages, theretofore independent, voluntarily became tributary. 

94. In 1870 the survey, which had been carried through the 
neighbouring Khasi Hills, entered the district, 

Siibiection of the last -> •. it, ^ 

independent Garos. ^nd it was resolved to explore as much of 

the independent Garo country as was possible 
in the course of surveying that which acknowledged British 
authority. During that year no opposition whatever was offered 
by the independent villages, of which about 60 still remained in 
the heart of the district ; but in March 1871 a survey coolie, who 
had been sent to clear a station on the top of a hill, was seized 
by some Garos of Rongmagiri, and was tortured and murdered. 
This put a stop to survey operations for the time, and in the 
ensuing cold weather (1871-72) an expedition was led against the 
offending village. In the summer of 1872 some independent 
villages raided upon protected Gdro villages which had afforded 
assistance to the expedition against Rongmagiri, and were attacked 
and occupied by the Deputy Commissioner. It was eventually 
resolved that the whole of the country which had hitherto been 
left to its independence should be brought under the same mana^e- 
ment as the rest ; and in the cold weather of 1872-73 three detach- 


Section 5. ments of police, from Mymensingli on the south, from Tiira on the 

The Hill west, and from Godlpara on the north, marched through the country 

tstricts. ^^|^j(,|^ jj- \^rj^^ been decided to annex. All resistance was easily 

overpowered, lashkars or headmen were appointed, the heads taken 

in recent raids were surrendered, and peaceful administration was 


95. Since the expedition of 1872-73, the history of the district 

has been one of profound peace. In Febru- 

Eecent history. -^ . , ,. 

ary and March 1881, a slight disturbance took 
place near Bangdlkhd^ta, at the north-western corner of the hills, 
in consequence of the construction of a road through that tract ; 
but it was speedily suppressed without bloodshed. The whole of 
the district, with the exception of a small tract of plains land on 
the north, is now under the exclusive management of the Deputy 
Commissioner, and is free from the exactions of zamindars, the 
greater part of whose interests in the area formerly included in 
their zaminddris or tributary to them have been bought out and 

96. The Khasi Hills were first brought into direct relations 

_ , . „ with the British Government in 1826, after 

II. TheKh^si Hills. ^ n. • \ 

the conquest of Assam.* The chiefs of the 
Khasi States on the northern border of the hills had gradually, 
since the decay of the Ahom power in the year 1794, established 
themselves in the plains of Kdmriip in the tracts known as Dudrs, 
and were accustomed to pay only a nominal allegiance to the 
Assam kings. When Assam was acquired by the East India 
Company, it became an object with Mr. Scott to establish com- 
munication through the hills with Sylhet, and while the new 
administration of Kdmriip refused to recognise the right of the 
Khdsi rulers to encroach on the plains of Assam, Mr. Scott was 
able, by agreeing to allow Tirat Singh, Seim of Nongkhldo, to rent 
some lands in Bordudr, to induce that chief, and to persuade the 

® Tlie Klidsis bad previously been known only as troublesome marauders upon the 
plains of Sylhet, where they were much dreaded. During the last century their ravages 
between 1780 and 1790 are specially mentioned as severe. A hne of forts was kept up 
under the hills to check these incursions. 


Other Seims, to permit a road to be made through the hills vid Section 5, 
Cherra Punji, Maophldng, and Nongkhldo to Gauhdti. The Hill 

In 1829, the insolent talk of some native servants belonging to 
the surveying party who were making the road led to an attack 
upon the party at the village of Nongkhlao, and Lieutenants 
Burlton and Bedingfield, 'with about fifty or sixty natives, were 
massacred. This event was followed by a general confederacy of 
most of the neighbouring chiefs to resist the British, and led to a 
long and harassing war, in which troops from Assam and Sylhet 
co-operated. Eventually, Tirat Singh submitted in 1833, and was 
confined as a prisoner for life in the Dacca Jail. The other chiefs 
had either before made terms with the British Government, or did 
so immediately after ; and since that date the establishment of a 
British officer with an adequate military force in the midst of the 
people, at Cherra Punji, which was abandoned in 1866 for Shillong, 
liavS sufficed to maintain the most absolute tranquillity. 

The greater part of the Kh^si Hills consists of the territories 
of native chiefs in subsidiary alliance with the British Government ; 
only a few scattered villages have remained British since the 
conquest of 1833, or have been ceded since then under special 
circumstances. The people govern themselves through their elected 
rulers, who are bound to follow the advice of their darbdrs. They 
pay no revenue to the British Government, but the Seims are 
required on investiture to confirm the cession to the paramount 
power of the mines and minerals, elephants, forests, and other 
natural products of their States, on the condition of receiving half 
the profits from these sources. All petty crime committed by their 
subjects is dealt with by the chiefs and their darbdrs, only heinous 
offences, or those cases in which subjects of different States are 
concerned, being tried by the district authorities. The people are 
extremely well-to-do, and make much money by trade with the 
plains in the valuable staples which the hills produce. 

97. It has already been related how, on the annexation of the 
plains country of Jaintia in 1835, Ed] a 

The Jaintia Hills. i^ ,. j o- -u j r ^ ^ . • +1 Til 

Edjendra Smgh dechned to retani the hilly 
portion of his principality, which thus lapsed to the British Govern- 


Section 5. ment. This tract, inhabited by the same race of mountaineers as 
The~Hill ^^^ neighbouring Khasi territory, was thereupon placed under the 

Districts, administration of the PoUtical Agent at Cherra Punji. The Jaintia 
Hills were (and still are) divided into 23 petty districts, 19 of 
which are in charge of headmen, chosen by the people themselves, 
called Dollois, and the remaining 4 in 'that of hereditary Sarddrs. 
From 1835 to 1855 the people were left very much to themselves. 
The Dollois heard all civil cases, at first without exception, and 
after 1841 up to a certain limit, and all criminal complaints not of 
a heinous character in which only people of their own villages 
were concerned. No taxes of any kind were levied throughout the 
hills, the only contribution required being the annual ofiering of a 
he-goat from each village, which had been exacted by the Jaintia 
Edja. In 1853 Mr, Mills, of the Sadr Court, reported on the dis- 
trict, and drew attention to the absence of administrative control 
in this portion of it. He suggested that a house- tax (which had 
been proposed by the Political Officer in 1849, and then negatived 
by Government) should be imposed, and a police thana posted in 
the hills with a view to check the lawless proceedings of the Dollois. 
The latter recommendation was carried out, and a thdna established 
at Jowai ; but the former, though approved by Lord Dalhousie, 
remained without effect. In 1858, Mr. Allen, of the Board of 
Eevenue, again reported on the district, and strongly urged Mr. 
Mills' recommendation that a moderate house-tax should be imposed, 
but he added that a European civil officer should be stationed in 
the midst of the tract, to be to the people a visible representative 
of British authority. The latter of these proposals was neglected, 
the former was adopted. In 1860 the house-tax was imposed, and 
within a few months the people were in open rebellion. Fortunately, 
a large force of troops was close at hand ; and before the revolt 
could make any head, it was stamped out and the villages were awed 
into apparent submission. After this rising, measures were taken 
to improve the administration of the Dollois, who were notoriously 
corrupt, but still no officer was posted to the subdivision. 

In January 1862, the people of the Jaintia Hills were again in 
fierce rebellion. The occasion was the imposition, only a year after 

Chap. II.] 



the liouse tax had been introduced, of the income tax, to which 310 Sections. 
persons in the hills were subjected. This new impost, quickly xiiTHill 
succeeding the former, roused the deepest resentment among a Districts. 
people who had paid nothing for generations, either to their own 
Eaja or to the British Government, and had been left since annexa- 
tion entirely to themselves. ' The suppression of the revolt was long 
and tedious. Crushed apparently in four months after its outbreak, 
it again almost immediately burst out afresh ; and it was not till 
November 1863 that the last of the rebel leaders surrendered, and 
the pacification of Jaintia could be said to be complete. 

An English officer has since those events been stationed at Jowai. 
He is required to make himself acquainted with the Khasi language, 
and to be able to dispense with interpreters ; the administration of 
the DoUois has been reformed, education (by the agency of the 
Welsh Mission, estabhshed in the Khjisi Hills since 1842) has been 
encouraged, and the country has been thoroughly opened up by 
roads. The Jaintia Hills are now as secure and peaceable as the 
neighbouring Khasi States. 

98. North Cachar, the tract of thinly-peopled, low undulating 
hills, divided from the valley of the Barak by 
the range of the Barail, and interposed 
between the Jaintia and the Naga Hills, has already been briefly 
referred to in the section dealing with Cachar. When the district 
w^as under native rule, during the last years of the reign of Govind 
Chandra, this portion of it was the scene of a struggle between 
that prince and one of his officers, named Kacha Din,* who rebelled 
and endeavoured to establish an independent government in the 
hills. He was captured and put to death by Govind Chandra, but 
his son, Tulanim, a chaprdsi in the E^ija's service, immediately 
revived the rebelhon, and in 1824 joined the Burmese in their 
attack on Cachar. After a series of years, during which Tularum 
successfully held his own, Mr. Scott induced Govind Chandra in 
1829 to assign to him a tract of country in the hills, and bind 
himself not to molest him within these limits. After the assassina- 

III. North Cachar. 

« Called " Kohee Dan " by Colonel Butler, Mills' "Assam Eeport," page chiii. 
" Kacha Din " is the name given by Peniberton, "Eastern Frontier," page 191. 



Section 5. tion of tlie Edja of Cachar, Tularam was a candidate for tlie vacant 
The Hill throne, but failed to establish his title. In 1835, he entered into 
an agreement with the British Government, in which he resigned 
all the western portion of the tract ceded by Govind Chandra, 
retaining the tract on the east, bounded on the south by the Mahur 
river and the Naga Hills, on the west by the Diyung, on the east by 
the Dhansiri, and on the north by the Jamuna and Diyung. For 
this he was to pay a tribute of four pairs of elephants' tusks 
annually, receiving a monthly pension of Es. 50. Tulardm died in 
October 1850. His sons, Nakulnim and Braja Nath, held the 
country for two and half years more, when the former was killed 
in the Naga Hills, whither he had led an expedition to avenge an 
attack on his village of Semkhor ; and in 1854 the tract was 
resumed by the British Government, the surviving members of 
Tularam's family receiving pensions. 

In 1839, the portion of North Cachar, not included in Tularam's 
dominions, was annexed to Nowgong ; and in 1853 a separate 
officer was placed in charge of the subdivision, with his head- 
quarters at Asalu, near the northern skirts of the Barail, whose 
business it was to keep order among the Kukis and Arung Nagas 
dwelling in this neighbourhood, and to protect them against the 
Angfimi Nagas to the east, who were constantly making jaids into 
this country and that held by Tularam. In 1854, that officer's 
charge was augmented by the addition of Tularam's principality. 

99. The defence of North Cachar and the Mikir Hills in 
Nowgong, lying to the north of that sub- 
history. ^^^ ' '^' ^^ ^ division, from the attacks of the Angami 
Ndgas was a task, however, which experience 
proved could not be successfully effected from Asalu. These 
turbulent neighbours led yearly expeditions into the hills and the 
valleys of the Jamuna, Diyung, and Dhansiri rivers. Outposts 
throughout the hills held only the ground they covered, and the 
Nagas were able to creep by them with impunity. Ten military 
expeditions were led into the Naga Hills between 1835 and 1851, 
the greater number of which were to punish raids. In 1846, a 
police post, under Bhogchand Darogha, was established at Sama- 


guting on a liill overlooking the Dhansiri Valley south of Dimapur. Section 5. 
In 1849, Bhogchand was killed at Piphima in the hills by the men The Hill 
of Khonoma and Mezuma. In 1S50, Lieutenant Vincent led a force 
to Mezuma to avenge Bhogchand's death, and remained there for 
six months, burning Klionoma daring his stay. In the winter of 
1850-51, the tenth expedition, the greatest British force which 
had entered the hills, advanced to complete the work of punish- 
ment ; and on the lOtli and lltli December 1850, the strouf^ fort 
of Khonoma was taken under almost the same circumstances as 
attended its capture twenty-nine years later, in November 1879. 
Paplongmai was burnt, and the Nagas of Kekrima, who challenged 
our troops, lost 300 killed in a hand-to-hand fight which was long 
remembered in the hills. 

After this successful expedition the Government of India 
decided upon a complete withdrawal from interference with the 
internal concerns of the Angami Ndgas. The Governor General, 
Lord Dalhousie, wrote in his minute of the 20th February 1851 : 

Hereafter we should confine ourselves to our own ground ; protect it as it 
can and must be protected ; not meddle in the feuds or fights of these 
savages ; encourage trade with them as long as they are peaceful towards us ; 
and rigidly exclude them from all communication, either to sell what they 
have got or to buy what they want, if they should become turbulent or 

These are the measures which are calculated to allay their natural fears 
of our aggression upon them, and to repel their aggression on our people. 
These will make them feel our power both to 'repel their attacks, and to 
exclude them from advantages they desire, far better, at less cost, and with 
more justice, than by annexing their country openly by a declaration, or 
virtually by a partial occupation. 

In March 1851, our troops were withdrawn, and in that rear 
twenty-two Naga raids were reported, in which 55 persons were 
killed, 10 were wounded, and 113 were taken captive. In 1853, 
as already related, an officer was stationed in the North Cacliar 
Hills at Asalu ; but he was instructed to regard the Angamis as 
persons living beyond the jurisdiction of the British Government, 
although in 1841 the watershed of the Barail range to the south of 



Section 5. the Angami country liad been authoritatively laid down as the 
The Hill boundary of jurisdiction between Manipur and Assam. A line of 

Districts. . ■, 

outposts, with regular patrols, was established between Asalu and 
Barpathar, in the Nambar forest; but in 1857 these outposts were 
reduced and gradually withdrawn. 

100. Eaids continued to be numerous between 1853 and 1865, 

during which years 19 occurred, in which 

Hilirdistrk".° ^^ ^^^ ^32 British subjects were killed, wounded 

or carried off. In 1864 and 18G5 the policy 
to be followed towards the Anoranii Najj^as aixain came under review, 
and the concurrent opinion of the local officers, of the Commis- 
sioner, Colonel Hopkinson, and of the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir 
Cecil Beadon, was that it was necessary for the credit of our 
administration to advance into the hills, " to re-assert our authority 
over the Nagas, and bring them under a system of administration 
suited to their circumstances, and gradually to reclaim them from 
habits of lawlessness to those of order and civilisation. " 

The Government of India, in 1866, agreed to the proposal that 
a new district should be formed, with its headquarters at Samagu- 
ting, Asalu being abolished as a subdivision, and North Cachar 
being divided between the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, South Cachar, 
and Nowgong, that portion lying to the west of the Dhansiri 
and the country on both banks of the Doyong forming, wath the 
Angami Naga Hills, the new district. But they desired that the 
main object to be kept in view should be not to extend our rule 
into the interior, but to protect the lowlands from the incursion of 
the Nagas. 

Captain Gregory, the first officer in charge of the new district, 
was succeeded in 1869 by Captain J. Butler, whose energetic 
administration did much to consolidate our power in the hills. 
Acting in the spirit of his instructions, he received the allegiance of 
those villages which freely tendered it, but made no effort to include 
those who were not willing to become British subjects. Much of 
his time was given to exploration with survey parties ; and in 1876 
he met his death in a fight with the LhotaNdgas of Pangti, a village 
in the hills east of the Doyong river. 



101. In February 1877, the Angtiini Nagas of Mezuma raided Section 5. 

Advance to Kohima. "P^^ ^^'^ ^^^^^" ^'^S^ ^^^^^g^ «^ Gumaigaju, r/^T^.z^ 

in the heart of Xorth Cachar, kiUinr/ G and ^''''''*'- 
wounding 2 persons. The cause of the attack was a feud thirty 
years old. With this exception, no raid had been committed by 
Angami Xagas within British territory since 1866, although there 
were numerous complaints of their depredations in Manipur ; and 
their internal feuds were^ as always, incessant. The village of 
Mezuma refused to give up the raiders, and in the cold weather of 
1877-78 an expedition was sent against it, by which the village was 
burned. Mr. Carnegy, the PoHtical Officer, was accidentally killed 
by a sentry of his own party while occupying Mezuma^ These 
events led to a review of the position which we occupied in the hills ; 
and in 1878, it was determined by Colonel Keatinge, after a visit to 
the country, to abandon Samaguting, a low and unhealthy site on the 
extreme edge of the Angdmi country, and to fix the future head- 
quarters of the Political Officer at Kohima in the midst of the 
group of powerful villages which it was specially necessary to 
control. This selection was approved by the Government of India 
in March 1878, and by the end of the next cold weather the 
transfer from Samaguting to Kohima was completed. 

In the course of the rains of 1879, indications of coming trouble 
began to present themselves, but no serious apprehensions were 
entertained by the Political Officer, Mr. Damant, who had planned 
an expedition during the cold weather into the Hatigoria country to 
the east of the Doyong. Before starting on this, however, he 
resolved to visit the powerful villages of Jotsoma, Khonoma, and 
Mezuma, to ascertain their disposition, and whether he might safely 
leave Kohima. On the 14th October he arrived at Khonoma, and 
leaving half his escort of 21 sepoys and 65 police with his baggage 
at the foot of the hill, he advanced with the other half up the 
narrow path leading to the strongly-fortified village site. The gate 
of the village was found closed, and as Mr. Damant stood before 
it, he was shot dead. A volley was then poured into his escort, 
who turned and fied down the hill. The Nagas followed, and 
dispersed the troops and police, Avho endeavoured by twos and 


Section: 5. threes to escapc to Koliima. Of the military accompanying Mr. 
The Hill Daman t, 10 were killed and 5 were wounded ; of the police, 25 
istncts. y^Q^Q killed and 14 were wounded. 

When this news reached Kohima, preparations were made to 
resist the attack. The subdivisioual officer was summoned from 
Wokha, 57 miles distant, and arrived with his force of sepoys and 
police on the 19th October. The stockade was besieged by the 
Nagas from the 16th to the 27tli, when the garrison, who were 
reduced to great straits for want of food and water, were relieved, 
and the siege was raised, by the arrival of Colonel Johnstone, 
Political Agent of Manipur, with a force of 2,000 Manipuri troops, 
and his own escort of 30 sepoys and a few police. 

A campaign against the Ndgas then ensued, in which the 42nd 
and 44th Hegiments, with a wing of the 18th Native Infantry and a 
detachment of the 43rd Native Infantry, took part, and which lasted 
till March 1880. Khonoma was taken on the 22nd November 1879, 
but the defenders retreated to a very strong position above the village 
on a spur of Japvo, where they maintained themselves until the 
end of the campaign. Jotsoma was captured on the 27th November, 
and every one of the 13 villages which had entered into the coali- 
tion against us was either occupied or destroyed. The most not- 
able event of the war, however, was the daring raid made in 
January 1880, by a party of Khonoma men from the fort above the 
village, at the time beleaguered by our troops, 'upon the tea garden 
of Bahidhan in Cachar, more than 80 miles distant, where they 
killed the manager, Mr. Blyth, and 16 coolies, plundered what they 
could, and burned everything in the place. 

On the 27tli March, the fort above Khonoma submitted, and 
the war was at an end. Fines in grain, cash, and labour were 
imposed upon those villages which took part against us. The 
Nagas were made to surrender the firearms they were known to 
possess, and in some instances the removal of a village from a 
fortified and inaccessible crest to a site below was directed. Khono- 
ma was razed to the ground, and its site occupied by an outpost. 
From all villages an agreement was taken to pay revenue in the 
shape of 1 maund of rice and 1 rupee per house, to provide a certain 

Chap. 11. 1 HISTORICAL SUM3IAKY. 95 

amount of labour annually for State purposes, and to appoint Section 5. 
a headman who should be responsible for good order and for The Hill 
carrying out the wishes of Government. mtncts. 

After the close of this, the twelfth and last expedition, the 
question of the policy to be adopted in dealing with the Nagas 
was submitted by the Chief Commissioner to the Government of 
India, who in Februaxy 1881 finally decided that our position at 
Kohima should be retained, that a regiment should be permanently 
stationed in the hills, and that the district should be adminis- 
tered as British territory. Since that date the history of the 
district has been one of the progressive establishment of peace 
and good order, and the quiet submission of the Nagas to our 

102. In 1875, a subdivision was opened at Wokha, which is 

situated in the country of the Lliota Nagas, 

Wokha subdivision. '' 1 » / • i i 

who are separated from the Angamis by the 
Rengmas and Semas. The village of Wokha had on several oc- 
casions attacked survey parties sent into the hills, and it was deter- 
mined to occupy the site to secure our position there. The Lhotas 
have no connection with the Angamis, who do not pass through 
their country in visiting the plains. This tract has been in ch'arge 
of a tahsildar since 1889, when the Mokokchang subdivision was 
formed, as the Lhotas had by that time become so amenable to 
authority that it was considered unnecessary any longer to retain 
a European officer in their midst. 

103. The boundaries of the Naga Hills district were gazetted 

in 1882, and the only change since that date 

Mokokchacg- feubdivision. , . . . . ^ oorv <• i 

has been the mclusion, m 18by, or the cis- 
Dikhu tract of country inhabited by the Ao Nagas. The reasons 
for this step were the difficulty of protecting the Aos from raids by 
trans-Dikhu tribes unless a garrison was permanently established 
in their midst, and the fact that the leading Ao villages had peti- 
tioned the Deputy Commissioner for their incorporation in British 
territory. The necessary measures were successfully carried out, 
and the tract in question is now known as the Mokokchang sub- 
division of the Naga Hills district. "» 


Section- 5. 104. At the close of the Naga war of 1879-80, Sir Steuart 
The Hill Bayley recommended, and the Government of 

Districts. Re-establislunent of the t t -i A^ ^ i t i j_ i' ^i 

North Cachar subdivision. I^dia approved, the re-estabhshment of the 
subdivisional charge of North Cachar, where, 
since 1866, no officer liad been located, the hiUmen being left, save 
for the rare cold-weather tonrs of the Deputy Commissioner, 
entirely to themselves. The subdivision was opened in December 
1880, and placed in charge of an Assistant Superintendent of Police, 
who was stationed at Gunjong, in the centre of the tract, a point 
connected by easy hill paths with Nowgong to the north, Silchar to 
the south, and Jowai to the west. A bridle path to Kohima, vid 
the Kacha or A rung Naga country, has since been constructed. 
In this hitherto isolated and thinly-peopled region, in the cold 
weather of 1881-82, an event occurred which cost the life of a 
valued officer. Major Boyd, the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar. 
A Kacliari, named Sambhudan, declared himself inspired, claimed 
to work miraculous cures, and with his followers, who, like 
himself, took the title of deo, or god, levied contributions on the vil- 
lagers about Maibong, the old capital of the Kachari kings, where 
he took up his abode. The matter came under the notice of the 
subdivisional officer, who reported it, and the Deputy Commis- 
sioner, Major Boyd, immediately started for Gunjong with 30 police, 
and reached that place without impediment. On the loth January 
he left Gunjong with Mr. Soppitt, the subdivisional officer, for 
Maibon^, which is six or eij2'lit hours' march distant ; Maibonsf 
was reached and found deserted, and the party encamped in the 
huts of the deos. On the same day Sambhuddn and his party, some 
20 men, countermarched him, and about noon fell upon Gunjong, 
where only a weak police guard, composed mainly of Kachdri 
constables, who shared in the superstitions of their people, had 
been left. They were panic-stricken, and fled without firing a shot ; 
and the deos burned down all the houses at Gunjong, killed two 
servants and a sick policeman, and left precipitately for Maibong. 
On the morning of the 16th, soon after dawn. Major Boyd was 
awakened by the shouts and drums of Sambhuddn and his followers, 
• who had passed the night in the jungle. The police formed up in 

Chap. 11. ] niSTomcAL smiMAUY. 97 

line with bayonets fixed, but did not fire at first. The enemy ad- Section 6. 
vanced right up to them, and struck at them with their daos ; one Formation 
man was wounded on the shoulder with a dao, and Major Boyd ° Commis- 
received a deep cut between the forefinger and thumb. The police ^^°^^^^^^P' 
then fired a volley, and killed eight of their assailants ; two or three 
more were afterwards found dead in the jungle. Sambhudan 
escaped for the time, but the insurrection completely collapsed at 
once. Major Boyd was carried into Silchar ; his wound brought 
on tetanus, from which he died on the 30th January 1882. 
Sambhuddn evaded capture till the end of the year, when he was 
surrounded by the police, who had received information of his 
hiding place. In endeavouring to escape, he received a wound, 
from which he quickly bled to death. Four of his gang were 
arrested, of whom two died in jail, and two were tried at the 
sessions ; one was acquitted, and the other was sentenced to 
transportation for life. 

During the last ten years the history of this subdivision has 
been peaceful and uneventful, and nothing has transpired worthy 
of permanent record. 

105. In 1873 it was determined by the Government of India to 
separate the districts now forming the Assam 
Formation of the Chief province from the administration of the 


Government of Bengal, and to form them into 
a Chief Commissionership. By a proclamation dated the 6th 
February 1874, the districts of Goalpara, Kamrup, Darrang, Now- 
gong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur, the three hill districts, and the district 
of Cachar were taken under the immediate authority and manage- 
ment of the Governor General in Council ; and by a notification 
of the same date they were formed into a Chief Commissionership, 
and Lieutenant- Colonel R. H. Keatinge, v.c, c.s.r., was appointed 
the first Chief Commissioner. On the 12th September of the same 
year, by another proclamation and notification, Sylhet was added, 
and the province, as it now exists, was completed. 



[Chap. II. 

Section 6. r^^^ following statement sliows the officers who have filled the 
Formation Q^^ of Chief Commissioner since the formation of the Chief Com- 

or t'le Chief i 

Conimis- missioncrship : 

It on ersli ip. 





Colonel R. H. Keatinge, 
v.c, c S.I. 

Sir S. C. Bayley, K.c.s.i.... 

Mr. C. A. EUiott, c.s.i. ... 

Mr. W. E. Ward 

Mr. C. A. Elliott, C.S.I. ... 

Mr. W.E.Ward 

Mr. D. Fitzpatricb, c.s.i. 

Mr. J. Westland, C.S.I. ... 

Mr. J. W. Quinton, c.S I. 

Brigadier-General Sir H. 
CoUett, K.c.B. 

Mr. W. E. Ward, c.s.i. ... 

7th February 1874 

S2nd June 1878 . 

2nd March 1881 . 

7th July 1883 ... 

7th October 1883 

23 rd February 

31st October 1887 
15th July 1889 

22nd October 1889 
24th March 1891 

27th May 1891. 

21st June 1878. 

1st March 1881. 

7th July 1883. 

7th October 1883 

23rd February 

3ist October 1887 

15th July 1889. 

22nd October 

24th Blarch 1891. 

27th May 1891... 






Form of Administration. 



106. The province of Assam, excluding Sylhet, as already section i. 
mentioned, was taken under the immediate ~ — , 

p f i\ r"i ■ f General 

ComiSoner. authority and management of the Governor Admi.istya. 

General in Council, and constituted a separate ZU staff! 
Administration, by a proclamation, dated the 6th February 1874. 
A Chief Commissioner having been appointed, Act VIII of 1874 
was passed to provide for the exercise by him of executive powers. 
In September of the same year, on the addition of the district of 
Sylhet to the Chief Commissionership, Act XII of that year made 
the same provision in regard to that district. By these Acts the 
powers which, on the date of the formation of the Chief Commis- 
sionership, and on that of the transfer to it of the district of Sylhet, 
were, by virtue of any law or regulation vested in, or exercisable 
by, the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal or the Board of Revenue 
Lower Provinces, were transferred to, and vested in, the'^Governor 
General in Council ; and it was enacted that the Governor General 
in Council might, from time to time, delegate to the Chief Com- 
missioner all or any of the said powers, and withdraw any powers 
60 delegated. 

. By notification, dated the 16th April 1874, the Government of 
India delegated to the Chief Commissioner all powers which were 
vested in the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal by the direct opera- 
tion of any Act of the Governor General in Council, which also 
conferred the same powers on the Chief Commissioners of Gudh, 
the Central Provinces, and British Burma. By Act 'I of 1868 
section 2, clause 10, all powers conferred upon a Local Govern- 
ment by any Act of the Governor General in Council in force in 


Sectio N I. Assam, and passed subsequent^ to the constitution of the Chief 
General Commissionership, vest in the Chief Commissioner. By the o^ersi- 
tive System ^ion of this clause and the notification of the 16th April (and, in 
and staff, j-ggard to Sylhet, a similar notification of the 12th September 1874), 
tlie Chief Commissioner has, in respect to all the general Acts of 
the Governor General in Council, the powers of a Local Govern- 

Other powers have from time to time been delegated to the 
Chief Commissioner under Acts VIII and XII of 1874 [or assumed 
under section 6(c) of Act XIV of the same year], which, generally 
speaking, place him in the position of a Local Government in regard 
to most of the Eegulations and Acts, whether of the Legislative 
Council of India or that of Bengal, in practical operation in 
the province. 

The Chief Commissioner is assisted by a Secretary and an 
Assistant Secretary. 

107. From the constitution of the province in 1874 down to 
1880 there were no Commissioners in Assam. 
General executive g^j. jj-^ June of the latter year one was appoint- 
ed for the six districts of the Assam Valley, 
the office being combined with that of Judge in these districts, and 
the Commissioner being invested generally with the powers of a 
Commissioner of Division in Bengal. In the other districts of the 
province, that is, in the Surma Valley and Hill districts, the Chief 
Commissioner continues to perform himself the duties of a 
Commissioner of Division. 

Each of the eleven districts of the province has a Deputy Com- 
missioner as its chief executive officer, who is aided by a staff of 
I Assistant Commissioners and Extra Assistant Commissioners. Tlije 

functions of these oflicers are similar to those exercised by officers 
of the same name in other provinces. 

In addition to the above, there is the Director, Department of 
Land Eecords and Agriculture, whose main duty it is to supervise 
all survey and settlement operations, but who is also entrusted 
with the collection of trade and agricultural statistics, the manage- 
ment of survey schools, and other similar matters. 


108. The judicial organisation of tho province is at present in Section i. 
much the same condition as at its constitution r'ZZ j 

Judicial staff '^tiierac 

in 1874. The six districts of the Brahmaputra ^^"'^I'^'t^a- 

, ■'■ tivi; System 

Valley, and the districts or Sylhet and Cachar, are subordinate to ^"'^ Staff. 
the High Court of Fort William in Bengal. For the whole of the 
Brahmaputra Valley there is one District and Sessions Judge (who 
is also the Commissioner), whose headquarters are at Gauhati, but 
who holds sessions at the various district headquarters when required. 
Tlie Deputy Commissioners of the six districts have the civil powers 
of Subordinate Judges, and the special powers conferred by 
sections 30 and 34 of the Criminal Procedure Code of tryino- all 
offences not punishable with death and awarding a sentence of 
seven years' imprisonment. The Assistant and Extra Assistant 
Commissioners have the ordinary powers of Magistrates of the first, 
second, and third classes, and have also generally the civil powers 
of aMunsif, though only the senior Extra Assistant Commissioner 
or, where there is no Extra Assistant Commissioner, the senior 
Assistant Commissioner at a headquarters station, and the subdi vi- 
sional officer at a subdivisional station ordinarily exercises the 
latter powers. 

In the Surma Valley a different system prevails. In Sylhet 
there is a separate judicial service, at the head of which is the 
District and Sessions Judge, aided by a Subordinate Judge and a 
staff of Munsifs for the disposal of civil cases. The . Deputy Com- 
missioner, Assistant Commissioners, and Extra Assistant Com- 
missioners have here no civil powers, and exercise only the 
ordinary magisterial powers in criminal matters. In Cachar the 
Sessions Judge is the Judge of Sylhet, who holds sessions at 
Silchar when necessary ; but the Deputy Commissioner has the 
special criminal powers mentioned in sections 30 and 34 of the 
Criminal Procedure Code. The Deputy Commissioner, however, 
and not the Judge of Sylhet, is the District Civil Judge ; there is 
no Subordinate Judge, and the Assistant and Extra Assistant 
Commissioners exercise the powers of Munsifs in addition to their 
functions as Magistrates and executive officers. 

In the hill districts and certain frontier tracts (the North 


Section I. Cacliar subdivision, the Mikir Hills tract in Nowgong, and the 
General Dibrugarli frontier tract in Lakhimpur), the High Court possesses 

I'^ris^iSn" ^^ J^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^''^^^P^ ^^^^ -^^^^^P^^^^ British subjects. The Hill 
and Staff, clistricts Were formerly under the operation of the Deregulation- 
izing Act, XXH of 1869, which was repealed by the Scheduled 
Districts Act, XIV of 1874. Subsequently, the Frontier Tracts 
Regulation, II of 1880, was passed, under which power is given 
to the Chief Commissioner, with the previous sanction of the 
Governor General in Council, to direct that any enactment in force 
in any frontier tract shall cease to be in force therein, and this 
Kegulation (with the additional power of extension conferred by 
Regulation III of 1884) has been brought into force in all the 
hill districts and frontier tracts referred to above. Under its 
provisions, the operation of the enactments relating to Civil and 
Criminal Procedure, Court-fees, Stamps, Transfer of Property, and 
Registration, has been barred,* and a simpler system of adminis- 
tering justice in civil and criminal matters has been prescribed by 
rules framed under section 6 of the Scheduled Districts Act, XIV 
of 1874. By these rules the Chief Commissioner is himself the 
chief appellate authority in civil and criminal cases. The Deputy 
Commissioner exercises the combined powers of District and 
Sessions Judge and Magistrate of a district, and the Assistant 
Commissioners and Extra Assistant Commissioners the powers of 
Magistrates and Munsifs. The judicial administration in all petty 
civil and criminal cases is carried on by village tribunals, pre- 
sided over by headmen chosen from among the people themselves, 
whose procedure is completely free from legal technicalities, and 
whose proceedings are not reduced to writing. The Criminal 
Procedure Code is in force in the Eastern Duars in Godlpdra, 
and that tract is, therefore, on the same footing as the plains 
districts so far as the administration of criminal justice is concern- 
ed. The Civil Procedure Code, however, is not in force ; its place 
is taken by rules under section 6 of Act XIV of 1874, which con- 

• Except in cases when such enactments never were in force. The Civil Procedure 
Code, for inatance, was nevcf extended to the hill districts, and it was, therefore, un- 
necessary to include this in the declarations under Regulation II of 1880, which were 
JBBued in regard to these districts. 

Chap. Ill ] pQj^^j Qj, ADMINISTRATION. IO3 

tain much the same provisions as the corresponding rules framed Section i. 
for the tracts which are under the operation of Eegulation ]I of G~al 

1*^80. Admimstra- 

Besides the judicial officers named above, there are a few ««^ -^'^^^ 
Honorary Magistrates in nearly every district. The latter in all 
cases, however, sit singly, no benches of Honorary Magistrates 
having yet been formed in any district except Sylhet. 

109. Up to the year 1886, Sylhet Proper was under the 
T> 1 • • . *• operation of the old Benofal Eeo"ulations and 

Revenue adminislration. ^ c^'j. o-icQuiaLiuuis auu 

the Other land revenue enactments in force 
in Bengal. In Jaintia and Cachar, and also, though to a less 
extent, in Goalpara, these enactments were generally followed 
but they were not treated as actually in force. In the Brahma- 
putra Valley Proper, the settlement rules of the Board of Eevenue 
had been replaced by local rules, which were revised and recast 
in 1883. In other respects the revenue law of Bengal was follow- 
ed, so far as the local officers considered it to be applicable, but 
it was not treated as legally in force. All doubt and uncertainty 
have now been removed by the enactment of the Assam Land 
and Eevenue Eegulation, I of 1886, which has been brought into 
force in all the plains districts of the province. It contains all 
the necessary provisions of the revenue law of Bengal, the whole 
of which it repeals, so far as Assam is concerned. The Eegula- 
tion was amended in some respects as regards the recovery of 
arrears^f revenue by Eegulation II of 1889, and its provisions re- 
garding settlements, mutations, partitions, the recovery of arrears, 
&c., have been supplemented by rules issued under it and deriving 
from it the force of law. The superior authorities entrusted with 
the revenue administration have already been stated. They are 
the Chief Commissioner (as Local Government and Board of 
Eevenue, and, in the Surma Valley and hiil districts, as Commis- 
sioner), the Commissioner (in the Brahmaputra Valley), the 
Director, Department of Land Eecords and Agriculture, and an 
assistant for supervising the preparation and maintenance of land 
records in cadastrally surveyed tracts in the Assam Valley districts, 
the Deputy Commissioners in each district, and the Assistant 


Section i. and Extra Assistant Commissioners. Below these there are 
^ , different subordinate officers in different districts. Each subdivi- 


Admiiiistra- gion in the plains districts, except South Sylhet and GoAlpara, has 
^and staff! an officcr called a Sub-Deputy Collector, who is employed mainly 
upon supervision of the revenue establishments, upon surveying 
waste and cultivated lands (the extent and importance of this work 
in Assam will be seen from the following chapter), and the com- 
pilation of the revenue records and returns. 

Goalp<4ra, except the Eastern Duars, is, for all practical 
purposes, a permanently-settled tract, and there are no mujassal 
revenue establishments ; in the other districts of the Brahmaputra 
Yalley the whole of the revenue was formerly collected by con- 
tractors, called 77iaiizaddrs, holding charge of the revenue assess- 
ment and collection within definite areas, called mauzas, into which 
these districts are divided. On the conclusion of the annual assess- 
ment (which will be described in a subsequent section*), the 
mauzaddr entered into a contract to pay into the treasury the 
revenue assessed, together with any additional revenue which 
might be assessed on lands subsequently taken up within the year 
for cold weather cultivation, irrespective of whether he succeeded 
in realising the full amount from the cultivators or not, and was 
remunerated by a commission calculated at 10 per cent, on the 
first Es. 6,000 of revenue and 5 per cent, on any amount above 
that sum. This system is still largely in vogue, but is being 
rapidly superseded by the formation of tahsils, whereby from 3 
to 11 mauzas are amalgamated and placed in charge of an ofUcial 
called a tahsilddr, who is paid by a regular salary, and not by 
commission. The first tahsils were started in 1883-84 durinsr 
which year four were formed in the Ktirariip district, and from 
that date the extension of the system has progressed rapidly. 
There were at the close of 1892-93, 23 tahsils in the Brahmaputra 
Valley, absorbing in all 125 mauzas. 

The chief argument in favour of the tahsilddri as opposed to 
the mauzaddri system is the great saving which is thereby effected 
in the cost of collection, the percentage in 1892-93 of collection 

♦ See post, Chapter IV, Section 3, SyBtem of Survey and Settlement. 


charges in tahsils being only 2*38, against 3*71 in mauzas* The Section i. 
amount thus saved is devoted to increasing the efficiency of the General 
assessment operations, as will be described in the paragraphs the System 
deaUng with the system of survey and settlement. Where tahsils ^" ^'^"' 
have not yet been introduced, the cost of collection has been 
reduced as far as possible by amalgamating mauzas, thereby 
reducing the number of mauzaddrs^ and saving to that extent the 
higher rate of commission which is payable on the first Es. 6,000 
of a mauzaddrs collections. Ten years ago, the collection charges 
amounted to 11'87 per cent, of the total revenue collected, while 
in the present year the corresponding percentage is only 3*53. 

It should be mentioned here that there are certain estates, the 
revenue on which is paid direct into the treasury, and not through 
the local revenue collector. This privilege is conceded in the 
cases of waste land grants, all nisj-khiraj estates in Nowgong and 
Darrang and many of those in Kamrup, and a few other special 
tenures. Certain communities of Miris in North Lakhimpur 
also pay their revenue direct into the treasury, through their 
own headmen or gams. 

At each subdivisional headquarters in Sylhet there is a collecting 
office, where the revenue is paid in and the accounts are made 
up. There are also mujassal establishments, viz., in Kanairghdt 
in Jaintia, and at Hakaluki and Pratabgarh in Karimganj. Pro- 
ceedings for the realisation of arrears (which are here generally 
recovered by means of the Sale Law) are taken at the subdivisions. 

In the plains portion of Cachar also, there are three collecting or 
tahsil establishments for receipt of the revenue, which is here settled 
for a term. Two of these are located at the sadr and subdivisional 
headquarters, and the third at a point close to the Sylhet boundary. 

In the hill districts, the general rule is that house tax, and not 
land revenue, properly so called, is paid ; but in the Garo Hills 
and a small area in the Jaintia and Naga Hills, there are tracts 
where land revenue is taken, and mauzaddrs are the agency em- 
ployed for collection. The house tax is, in the Garo, Jaintia, Naga 

* In this calculation the Bijni tahsil has not been included, as the circumstances of 
that tahsil are somewhat esccptional. 



Section i. Hills, and North Cacliar, and the few villages in the Khc4si Hills 

General which are British territor}-, collected and paid in by headmen, 

the System "^^^10, like the mauzaddvs of the Assam Valley are remunerated by 

and staff, a Commission. These officers are called Za5/d-«?'5 and Lakmas in 

the Gc4ro Hills, Vollois and Sarddrs in the Jaintia and Khasi Hills, 

Lamharddrs in the Naga Hills, and Mauzaddrs in North Cachar. 

110, The province of Assam is a general police district under 

Act V of 1861, and the police are under the 

Police. ^ 

control of an Inspector General, Tvho is on 
the graded list of Deputy Commissioners. In each of the plains 
districts there is an officer, either a District Superintendent or 
an Assistant Superintendent, who has charge of the Civil Police 
work. These officers are borne on the Bengal staff of police 
officers, and receive promotion in that list. In addition to these 
officers, whose work is to superintend the prevention and detection 
of crime, there is a small stafi' consisting of one Civil and three 
Military Police officers, who, under the designation of Command- 
ants of Military Police, control that division of the Assam Police 
Force which performs semi-military duties in manning the frontier 
outposts, and in holding as a garrison the Garo, Naga, and North 
Lushai Hills. This division of the force, besides being subject to 
Act V of 1861, is under a special Regulation (The Assam Military 
Police Regulation, 1890), which makes provision for the enforce- 
ment of due discipline, and assimilates generally the terms of 
service to those prevailing in the Native Army. The four divisions 
of the Military Police are located as follows : (1) in the Brahma- 
putra Valley, with headquarters at Dibrugarh ; (2) in the Surma 
Valley, with headquarters at Silchar ; (3) in the Naga Hills, with 
headquarters at Koliima ; and (4) in the Garo Hills, with head- 
quarters at Tura. The Surma Valley battalion also holds the 
North Lushai Hills, but a proposal has recently been sanctioned 
to form a separate battalion for that purpose. In the meantime, the 
Commandant is assisted by a second military officer, who is called 
an Assistant Commandant. At the close of 1892 the sanctioned 
strength of the Civil and Armed Civil Police in Assam was 2,178 
officers and men, and of the Military Police 2,535 officers and men. 


Besides the regular Civil Police, there are a few municipal Section i. 
poUce entertained in towns which have been constituted " Unions " General 
under the Bengal Municipal Act (these numbered 15 officers ana tive System 
men at the close of 1892), and there is a force of chaukidars, or "" ^^' 
rural police, in the districts of Sylhet, Cachar, and Godlpdra. 
Except in the last-named district, there are no village police in 
the Brahmaputra Valley. The mauzaddrs and mandals are re- 
quired to give information and aid in detection of crime, and in 
each village, or group of hamlets, there is a gaonbura, or village 
elder, who is the recognised representative of the villagers in 
police matters, but receives no remuueration from Government. 
The chaukidars in Goalpara are governed by the Bengal Chauki- 
ddri Act [VI (B.C.) of 1870 as amended by Act I (B.C.) of 1871], 
and those in the Surma Valley by the Sylhet and Cachar Ftural 
Police Regulation, I of 1883. On the last day of 1892 there were 
6,812 village police in the province, of whom 5,616 were in Sylhet, 
480 in Cachar, and 716 in Goalpara. Their cost was Rs. 2,93,960 
for the year, the whole of which was paid by the villagers. 

111. The jails in Assam are divided into three jails, large es- 
tablishments at Gauhati, Tezpur, and Sylhet ; 
six subsidiary jails, smaller places or con- 
finement, at Dhubri, Nowgong, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh, Silchar, and 
Shillong ; and thirteen lock-Kjys, at the headquarters stations of 
Tura and Kohima, and the subdivisional stations of Goalpara, 
Barpeta, Mangaldai, Jorhat, Golc4ghat, Lakhimpur, Sundmganj, 
Karimganj, Habiganj, Maulvi Bazar, and Hailakandi. Besides 
these, temporary jails are also opened, from time to time as 
necessary, for the accommodation of prisoners employed upon 
public works at a distance from the permanent jails. 

Where a civil medical officer is employed (as is gererally the 
case at Gauhati, Tezpur, and Sylhet), he is the Superintendent of 
the Jail. The department is supervised by an Inspector General, 
who is also Inspector General of Police. 

The Jail Law of the province is Act XXVI of 1870, which was 
brought into force in supersession of the Jail Acts, II of 1864 and 
V of 1865, of the Bengal Council, by Regulation No. II of 1875. 


Section i. The Bengal Jail Manual, consisting of rules and orders issued by 

cTZ'ral tlie Government and the Inspector General of Jails in that province, 

Administra- - Iq\\q^^q^ j^ Assam SO far as it does not conflict with the provi- 

iive oystem 

and Staff, gions of Act XXYI of 1870. 

112. Excise is managed (under the Excise Laws^ of Bengal, 
which have been extended to Assam) by- 
Excise, Stamps, Re- ^^^ Commissioner of Excise, an office which 

giatration. ' 

is held by the Inspector General of Police 
and Jails in addition to his other duties. The same officer is also 
Superintendent of Stamps and Inspector General of j Eegistration, 
as well as Registrar of Joint Stock Companies under the 
Companies' Act, and Eegistrar General of Births, Deaths, and 
Marriages under Act VI of 1886. All Deputy Commissioners are 
Eegistrars in their respective districts; the Sub-Eegistrars at 
headquarters are either Extra Assistant Commissioners, who do 
this work in addition to their other work, or special Sub-Eegistrars 
(at Sylhet and Silchar) ; at subdivisions either the subdivisional 
officer, or a second officer (generally an Extra Assistant Com- 
missioner), if there is one, is Sub-Eegistrar. But in all the sub- 
divisions of Sylhet there are special Sub-Eegistrars, and at Bala- 
ganj, Hingajia, and Madhabpur in the same district there are 
rural Sub-Eegistrars, 

113. The Educational Department is supervised by a Director 
of Public Instruction, who is borne on the 

Educational Department. t n ,• , r ti i tt • ' ^ i ^ 

graded hst of iiengal. He is assisted by 
four Deputy Inspectors (one for the Surma Valley and three for 
the Brahmaputra Valley, i.e., one each for Upper, Central, and 
Lower Assam) and 24 Sub-Inspectors, viz., one forjeach [subdivi- 
sion in the plains districts, with an extra man for Gauhdti, one for 
the Gdro Hills, and two for the Khdsi and Jaintia Hills. Besides 
these departmental officers, who directly control the Government 
hif^h and middle schools and the higher normal school at Gauhdti, 
all classes of aided schools in the eight plains districts are under 
the supervision of the several Local Boards estabhshed under the 
Assam Local Eates Eegulation, 1879. These authorities receive 
applications and make allotments of grants-in-aid without reference 


to the Director, but subject to the rules prescribed for such grants. Section i. 
The aided schools are still generally under the control of the cTZ^al 
Director of PubHc Instruction, and are, of course, subiect to in- ^!^""''^^i^a- 

'J iiije System 

spection by hnn, the Deputy Inspectors, and the Sub-Inspectors. and staff. 

114. The Forest Department is under the control of a Con- 
Forest Department. ^crvator, who is assisted by a staff of Deputy 

and Assistant and Extra Assistant Conser- 
vators. These officers are now borne on a separate Provincial 
list, and their standing in the department depends on their places 
in that list. At the time of writing this report, the sanctioned 
list consists of six Deputy Conservators, three Assistant and three 
Extra Assistant Conservators, but two of the three appointments 
of Assistant Conservators are vacant. 

The remaining ten officers are posted respectively to Lakhim- 
pur, Sibsagar, and the Naga Hills, Darrang, Nowgong, Kdmriip, 
and the Khdsi Hills, Goalpdra, the Gdro Hills, Cachar, Sylhet, and 
the Working Plans Division. 

115. The staff of direction of the Public Works Department in 

Assam consists of a Chief or Superintending 
^Public Works Depart. Engineer, who is also Secretary to the Chief 

Commissioner in that Department, aided by 
an Assistant Secretary, and, as regards the accounts of Provincial 
and Imperial works, by an Examiner and the usual staff. Excludincr 
the above, as also the special establishment sanctioned for the 
Nichuguard-Manipur road (an Imperial work), the present sanc- 
tioned scale of executive staff provides seven Executive and five 
Assistant Engineers. Besides the foregoing, the following special 
stall is at present employed in the province : — Attached to the 
Assam- Bengal Eailway, a Consulting Engineer, a Deputy Con- 
sulting Engineer, and an Examiner of Accounts ; for the Nichu- 
guard-Manipur road, one Superintendent of Works, two Executive 
and two Assistant Engineers. 

116. The medical institutions of the province are supervised 

by the Principal Medical Officer, Assam 
osSi>r' """"' Di«t"«t. ^^°' i" ^'idition to his military 

duties, is the Sanitary Commissioner of the 


Sectio.^ 2, province, and is the Chief Commissioner's adviser on sanitary and 
Legislative msdical matters generally. Each district has a Civil Surgeon, 
. utiortty. ^^^ ^^ •\vhom, assisted by an Assistant Surgeon (at Koliima), 
holds that post in addition to his duties as Regimental Surgeon. 
The Civil Surgeon of Tezpur, besides holding charge of the jail 
there, is also Superintendent of the only Lunatic Asylum which 
the province possesses, and which receives lunatics -from the 
Assam Valley and Hill districts ; lunatics from the Surma Valley 
are treated in the Dacca Asylum. The Civil Surgeons of Sylhet and 
Gauhati are Superintendents of the jails there. The Civil Surgeon 
of Dhubri is Embarkation Agent for emigrants recruited for the 
labour districts of the Brahmaputra Valley. A medical officer is 
stationed at Aijal as Civil Surgeon, North Lushai Hills, and the Eegi- 
mental Surgeon at Manipur is in civil medical charge of that station, 

117. The only Government Chaplain in the province is the 

Minister of Shillong, who also visits Sylhet, 

Ecclesiastical officers. ,,. -i r^ ^ - • it--i 

Dhubri, and Gauhati at intervals during the 
course of the year. Small allowances are, besides, given to clergy- 
men provided by the Additional Clergy Society or by the Society 
for the Propagation of the Gospel, for the spiritual charge of the 
European population in other districts. These allowances are 
drawn by ministers stationed at Tezpur, Dibrugarh, and Silchar. 

118. The accounts of the province are in charge of a Comp- 

troller, who is directly subordinate to the 
Imperial departments financial Department of the Government of 

lu the province. -l 

India. The Post Office Department is in 
charge of a Deputy Postmaster General, and the Telegraph De- 
partment in that of a Superintendent. These officers, as well as 
the officers of the Survey Department serving in the province, are 
not subordinate to the Chief Commissioner. 


119. There are three ways in which measures of legislation are 

brought into force in this province. The 

Acts of the Governor r. , • ,i ^• ,.^ ^ ^ xi „ 

General's Council. ni'^t IS the ordinary method, common to the 

whole of India, of passing Acts in the Coun- 
cil of the Governor General for making Laws and Eegulations. 


120. The second is the method of passing Eegulations in Sectiok 2, 
n 1 ,. 1 00 accordance with the provisions of 33 Vic- Legislative 

RcRnlatidns under 33 . ■*■ ^*,, ., 

Victoria, ciiapter 3, sec- toria,Chapter 3, section 1 (an Act to make '''«:>'• 

tion 1. 1 , , • • p 1 • -r 

better provision ior making Laws and 
Eegulations for certain parts of India, and for certain other 
purposes relating thereto). This Act was, by Eesolutions passed 
by the Secretary of State for India in. Council, made applicable 
to the districts of Kamrup, Darrang, Nowgong, Sibsagar, and 
Lakhimpur, and the Gdro, Khdsi and Jaintia, Ndga Hills, and 
Cacliar from the 1st January 1873 ; to the district of Goalpara from 
the 15 til December 1873 ; and to the district of Sylhet from the 1st 
August 1874. Under its provisions, the Chief Commissioner has 
power to "propose to the Governor General in Council drafts of 
any Regulations, together with the reasons for proposing the same, 
for the peace and government of the territories under his admi- 
nistration. " Such drafts, when approved by the Governor General 
in Council, and after they have received the Governor General's 
assent, are published in the Gazette oj India, and thereupon have 
the force of law. This method, which was first used in Assam in 
1873, on the passing of Regulation Y of that year (the Inner Line 
Regulation), before the constitution of the Chief Commissionership, 
has since been frequently resorted to. 

121. The third method is to make use of section 5 of Act 
XIV of 1874 (The Scheduled Districts Act), 

Extension under section _ ^ '' 

5 of the Scheduled Dis- w^hich declares that " the Local Govern- 
ment, with the previous sanction of the 
Governor General in Council, may from time to time, by 
notification in the Gazette of India, and also in the local Gazette 
(if any), extend to any of the scheduled districts, or to any part 
of any such district, any enactment which is in force in any part of 
British India at the date of such extension." By section 6, clause 
(c), of the same Act, the Chief Commissioner is empowered to 
direct by what authority any jurisdiction, powers, or duties 
incident to the operation of any enactment for the time being 
in force in a scheduled district shall be exercised or performed. 
Assam is one of the scheduled districts under this Act (Sche- 

I 12 


Section 3. diile I, Part X) ; and the Act Tras declared to be in force in the 
EdZZtion. province by notification on the 7th November 1877. Since that 
date, numerous Acts in force in other parts of India have, under 
the powers given by section 5, been brought into force in Assam. 


122. The inspecting staff of the Educational Department has 
already been described. It remains to state 

Divisions of echools. c ^ i • .i i • i r 

here the system 01 teaching, the kinds of 
schools, and the manner in which they are supported. 

In the first place, educational institutions in Assam are divided 
into those subject to departmental inspection and rules and those 
not so subject. The former are either Government institutions, 
or receive some kind of assistance from public money, whether 
granted direct from Provincial revenues or from Local Punds, and 
are classified as follows : 

I. Primary, divided into (a) Lower primary or pdthshdlas, and 
(b) Upper primary. 

II. Middle, divided into {a) Vernacular, and (5) English. 

III. High schools. 

lY. Training and special. 

The latter are of two kinds : either wholly unaided and unin- 
spected, being for the most part religious in their object ; or 
schools established with a view to eventually obtaining a Govern- 
ment grant, and carried on entirely on the model of Government 
schools. The latter differ in no respect, expect in efficiency, from 
the Government schools which they imitate. The former are 
chiefly tols^ or Sanskrit schools, where, in addition to religious 
subjects, books on literature, logic, philosophy, &c., in that lan- 
guage are read ; and maktabs, Muhammadan schools, where the 
Koran is learned by rote, and Arabic and Persian reading and 
writing are taught. In 1887, however, reward rules for tols and 
maktabs were framed, and schools competing for three rewards are 


liable to inspection. The result of this change is a marked Section 3. 
improvement in the method of teaching, and pupils from tots in Education. 
Sylhet have of late years competed with success at the Title Exam- 
inations held in Bengal. In addition to these, there are Khampti 
Buddhist schools, which are found in every village of that people, 
where a monk, or hdim, gives instruction to the boys in reading 
and writing the Shdn language, and teaches them the doctrines 
of Buddha in that languas^e and Pali. Attendance at school is 
quite optional, but the boys are kindly treated, and nearly all of 
them avail themselves of the educational opportunities offered to 
them. The usual course lasts three years, during which time the 
boys live in the temple. Some of them ele-^t to remain on when the 
usual course is finished, and qualify themselves for the priesthood. 
The boys first learn to write with chalk on a piece of dark stained 
wood, and when more advanced, they are allowed the use of paper 
of local manufacture. Arithmetic does not apparently enter into 
the curriculum. The teacher is remunerated by daily offerings 
of food, and not by money. 

123. The lower primary schools or pcithshdlas Sive institutions 
, , where an elementary knowledge of the local 

Primary schools. _ . . 

vernacular is imparted. Beginning at the 
beginning, they teach up to a course of study which forms the 
subject of an examination, called the Primary Scholarship Exam- 
ination. The subjects of this course are — 

I. (a) Handwriting and dictation. 

(b) Easy questions in grammar and explanations from 
vernacular text-books. 

II. Arithmetic — the first four rules, simple and compound, 

after the European method ; practice, simple and com- 
pound, after the native method ; and mental arithmetic, 
native and European methods, on above rules. 

III. Zaminddri and mahajani accounts and simple mensuration 

after the native method. 

IV. Sanitary Science. 

A certain number of primary scholarships, worth Es. 3 a 
month, and tenable for two years at any school of a higher status 



Section 3. js allotted to each district, and these are awarded to the pupils 
Education. Tvlio pass best ill the Primary Scholarship Examination. 

Tlie course in the upper primary schools also works up to a 
scholarship examination, the amount and conditions of the scho- 
larship being the same as for the lower primaries. In these 
schools a slightly higher degree of acquaintance with literature, a- 
more extensive knowledge of arithmetic, part of Book I of Euclid 
as well as mensuration, the history of Assam or Bengal (according 
as the school is in the Assam or the Surma Valley), the geography 
of the province (with a general knowledge of the four quarters), 
and the elements of sanitation, are the objects aimed at in the 
course of study, 

124. In Government middle vernacular schools the course of 
instruction is altoujether in Benc^ali, but in 

Middle schools. ° . . , 

aided schools of this class in the Brahma- 
putra Valley the option is allowed of imparting instruction through 
the medium of Assamese. The following are the subjects taught : 

I. Bengali, or Assamese, comprising literature, grammar, and 

II. History of India — Hindu, Muhammadan, and English 

III. Geography, a general knowledge of the four quarters, 

with special knowledge of that of India, and map-drawing. 

IV. Arithmetic, general bazar, and zaminddri accounts, and 

mental arithmetic. 
V. Euclid (Book I), mensuration of plane surfaces and sur- 
VI. Sanitary Science. 

The course of study is closed by the Middle Vernacular Scho- 
larship Examination, the successful candidates in which receive 
scholarships worth Rs. 4 per mensem, tenable for four years in 
any school of a higher class. 

The middle English schools take up the full vernacular course, 
with English as a second language. The course of instruction is 
terminated by tlie ]\liddle En 'dish Examination. The value of 



these scholarships is Rs. 5 a month for three years, and they are Section 3. 
tenable at any high school. Education. 

There are 2G middle vernacular and 15 middle EnHish scho- 


larships for which the candidates at the scholarship examination 

125. Under the definition of high schools are included all 
schools that profess to teach up to the Cal- 

HJgh schools. 

cutta University Entrance standard. The 
course of study here is that prescribed for the University Exam- 
ination, and needs no further description. Junior scholarships 
are awarded to students who, after passing the Entrance Exam- 
ination, go up to study for the F. A. Examination at any college 
in Bengal. The number of these scholarships is 36 in all, viz., 
11 for the Surma Valley, 14 for natives of the Brahmaputra "Valley, 
3 for natives of the hill districts, and 8 for other than natives of 
the Brahmaputra Valley or hill districts reading in high schools in 
those parts. The monthly value of these scholarships is fixed at 
Es. 25 for the two best boys, Es. 20 for natives of the Brahmaputra 
Valley and hill districts, Es. 15 for boys passing in the Surma 
Valley, and Es. 20, Es. 15, or Es. 10 for boys other than natives 
who pass from schools in the Brahmaputra Valley and hill districts 
according as they pass in the first, second, or third division at the 
Entrance Examination. Junior scholars, who pass the F. A, Ex- 
amination within two years of matriculating, are awarded senior 
scholarships of an amount equal to that of the junior scholarship 
previously granted to them. 

There is no Government institution in the province which im- 
parts instruction in the University course beyond the Entrance 
Examination ; a lower grade college formerly existed in Gauhati, 
but it was reduced in 1876 to the status of a Government high 
school, on account of the excessive expense of its maintenance 
and the small number of students who read at it. It is considered 
more desirable that the natives of the province (aided, if neces- 
sary, by scholarships under the scheme mentioned above) should 
resort to Bengal to prosecute their studies, and thus enlarge 
their minds by contact with a higher civilisation, than that an 


Section 3. expensive Government college should be maintained for them in 
Education. Assani. It should, however, be mentioned that a private college 
teaching up to the F. A. standard was started in the town of Sylhet 
iu iS92, at which twelve junior scholarships may be held. In all 
these schools, whether middle or high, it must be understood that 
the lower classes include mere beginners, and that the courses of 
study actually pursued by the boys in each kind of schools very 
largely overlap, 

126. The fourth class of schools consists of the training and 

special schools. The hrst are the normal 
Training and special ^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^ training classes in which lads are 

schools. o 

taught with a view to becoming teachers. 
There are fifteen institutions or classes for the training of gurus, or 
teachers for primary schools, two of which (Gauhati and Shillong) 
also prepare teachers for middle schools. The second or special 
schools include an artizan school at Jorliat maintained by a special 
bequest made by Mr. AVilliamson, a tea-planter in Upper Assam, 
and some survey schools. The latter are under the control of the 
Director, Department of Land Eecords and Agriculture. 

127. With the exception of a few schools which teach up to 

the middle standard, female education in 

Female education. • r^ t 1 

Assam is confined to elementary instruction 
in primary schools. There are pdthslidlas, exclusively for females, 
managed on the same principle as boys' primary schools, and, in 
addition, a considerable number of girls read in boys' pdthshalas. 
The Khasi and Jaintia Hills is the only district in which female 
education has made any considerable progress. The census re- 
turns for that district show that, out of every 1,000 females, 13"7 
are learning and lO'o are literate, the corresponding figures for 
the province as a whole being 13 and 2*2 respectively. 

128. The only school in the province for the education of Eu- 

ropeans and Eurasians is the aided school at 

European and Eurasian Sllillong. The number of SCholarS ill tllis 
education. , . ^„„ ^„ « , ^-, 

school m 1892-93 was 23, of whom 11 were 
boys and 12 were girls. The Government grant-in-aid is Es. 140 
per month, and the use of the school house and furniture (which 

Chap. III.] 



belong to Government) is allowed at a rent of Es. 50 a montli. A Section 3. 
mixed school was opened at Ganluiti in 1882 and a boys' school r^, 7. 
at Shillong in 1883, but neither of these proved a success, and they 
were closed in 188G. The girls' school which had been started at 
Shillong in 1881 was closed in 1887 for the same reason. Two 
scholarships of Ks. 15 a month are given annually to sons of indi- 
gent European or Eurasian parents who are bond fide residents of 
Assam. These scholarships are tenable for three years at any Eu- 
ropean hill school approved by the Director of Public Instruction. 
129. Schools .under inspection are, as already stated, divided 
into (1) Government, the salaries of the 

Division into Govern- , 

ment, aided, and unaided teaclicrs bcmg bomc entirely by public funds 

and the fees credited in the treasury; (2) 
aided, a fixed contribution being made to meet the expenses of 
the school; and (3) unaided. The following hst shows how many 
schools there were of each class in the year 1892-93 ; the three 
classes of religious unaided schools mentioned in paragraph 120 
are not included : 




Class of institution. 

of insti- 



of insti- 



of insti- 




TTniversity Education— English 



' For Boys— 


High Schools 







Middle schools i^^^Sular Z 








For Girls— 


Middle Schools— Vernacular 




Primary Schools— 

For Boys ... 







„ Girls ... 









' Training Schools and Classes ... 
Law Schools ,., 
Industrial Schools ... 








^ Other Schools 








Sectiox 3. 130. Except in tlie case of high schools, the grants-in-aid for 

Education. which are now given by the Education De- 

rrineiplLS of grauts-in- partmeut, all ffrants-in-aid are o-iven from 

aid. *• ^ ^ ^ ° 

funds administered by Local Boards and 
Municipahties, but before making any grant, the local authority 
must satisfy itself that there is a probability that the school will 
be kept up, that it meets a recognised want, that the education 
provided is likely to be good, and that local subscriptions are 
forthcoming. The principles on which they are awatded are the 
foUowins : 


{!) Middle and Uj)per Primary Schods. 

{a) The grants must be given on the principle of strict 
religious neutrality. 

{b) The schools receiving them must require some fee from 
their scholars, unless in special cases exemption is recommended 
by -the Local Board and allowed by the Director of Public 
Listruction, Assam. 

(c) Grants to middle schools at sadr and subdivisional head- 
quarters may not exceed two-thirds of the income expended from 
private sources ; at other places they may not exceed the total 
sum so expended. Grants to upper primary schools in Sylhet 
may not exceed the local income, elsewhere they may not exceed 
three fifths of the total monthly expenditure ; in no case must the 
grant exceed Hs. 10 a month. 

Such schools must have a responsible committee of manage- 
ment and a Secretary to conduct their correspondence ; they must 
submit the prescribed returns, and be always open to inspection 
by the inspecting officers ; and they must keep strict accounts of 
receipts and disbursements. If the school becomes inefficient, the 
grant is liable to be reduced or withdrawn. 

{2) Lower Primary Schools. 

In these schools the gurus are paid — 

(a) by a fixed monthly salary combined with rewards for 
pupils who pass an examination. 


(b) by rewards alone, or Section 3. 

(c) under special rules. Edition. 

Under [a) the maximum fixed salary is Es. 48, and the maximum 
reward at the rate of Es. 48, a year. Under {b) the maximum 
reward is at the rate .of Es. 96 a year. Under (c) fixed salaries are 
given not exceeding Ks. G a month for one teacher or Es. 10 for 
two in the case of girls' schools and schools for backward races. 
For municipal schools and schools in hill districts, the limit of pay 
for a teacher is fixed at Es. 10 a month. 

In addition to the above, small rewards are paid for each 
pupil passing the Lower Primary Scholarsliip Examination, pro'- 
vided that the Deputy or Sub-Inspector certifies that the junior 
classes of the school have not been neglected. 

131. In the Giiro, Naga, and Khasi and Jaintia Hills, and 
among the Kachari population of Darrang 

Special arrangements and the Mikirs of Nowcroucr, the COUtrol of 
with missionary bodies. ... o o^ 

education is in the hands of different mis- 
sionary bodies, who receive grants from the Local Boards con- 
cerned (or from Government where there are no Local Boards), 
and themselves make considerable contributions to the work. The 
most important of these is the Welsh Mission in the Khdsi and 
Jaintia Hills, who receive a grant of Es. 6,000 a year from Govern- 
ment, the Mission themselves contributing (in 1892-93) Es. 29,085 
towards primary education. In the Garo Hills the yearly grant 
to the American Baptist Mission is Es. 2,600, and in Godlpara a 
grant of Es. 400 is made to the same Mission for the furtherance 
of education amongst the Gdros resident in that district. In 
Darrang, the Kachari S. P. G. Mission receive Es. 1,500 a year 
towards the support of Kachari schools. A grant of Es. 1,500 a 
year is similarly made to the American Baptist Mission in Now- 
gong for Mikir schools and of Es. 780 a year to the same Mission 
at Amguri to assist them in keeping up schools in the Ao Naga 
country. It has long been recognised that among these primitive 
races, destitute of any settled form of religion, there is not the 
same objection to the subsidising of missionary schools by the 
State as exists in the case of Hindus and Muhammadans. 


Section 4. 132. It only remains to notice the scale of fees levied from the 
hn>^^7ation piipils attending these different classes of 

and Labour ' scliools. In primary schools or pdthshdlas 

Jnspectioii. i. ./ 1 

there are no fixed rules for fees ; no pupil is prevented from read- 
in"" by his inabihty to pay a fee : those who can pay, do so, and 
those who cannot, do not. Often the fees are given in kind, the 
gwni being supplied with food and other necessaries by the parents 
of the pupils. In upper primary schools, the rate of fees varies 
from one pice in the lowest to four annas in the highest class per 
month. In middle schools the fees vary in different schools and 
in different districts : the highest taken are 8 annas in the lowest, 
and Re. 1 in the highest class ; the lowest 1 anna in the lowest 
class and 2 annas in the highest. The scale of fees has to be 
approved, if the school is an aided one, at the time the grant- 
in-aid is settled. In high schools the fees vary from 12 annas in 
the lowest to Es. 3 in the highest class. In the normal schools 
and training' classes, on the other hand, the pupils, instead of 
paying fees, receive small stipends, generally Rs. 3 or Es. 4 a 

133 The total expenditure on education in the province (in- 
cluding the school at Manipur) in schools 

Total expendituro on i r^ i. • i.- • r 

education. under (Government inspection varies irom 

year to year. The following figures are the 
most recent, viz., those for 1892-93 : 


From Provincial ... 

... 1,79,506 

„ Local Boards' Funds 

... 1,01,673 

„ Municipal Funds 


„ Fees 

... 1,09,420 

„ Subscriptions 


„ Endowments and other sources 



... 5,40,020 


134. The principal recruiting areas are either densely inhabited 
„ ,. p p, . districts, where the means of subsistence are 

rolicy oi Lrovernment. ' 

not suflicient for the support of the entire 

Chap. Ill,] FORM OJ: administration. 12 1 

population in tolerable comfort, or such tracts as Choi a Nagpur, Section 4. 
where, though the population in proportion to the area does not Immigration 

T 1 1,1 11 • and Labour 

appear excessive, wages are extremely low, and the labouring inspection. 
classes are unable, without some relief by emigration, to obtain 
an adequate livelihood. It has, therefore, been the settled policy 
of Government to promote emigration from such areas to others 
enjoying more favourable conditions ; and the importation of 
coolies to Assam, at the expense of persons interested iu the tea 
industry, has done much towards opening out and colonising the 
fertile, but sparsely peopled, districts of Assam. 

135. The necessity for legislation on the subject of labour 

immigration into Assam is of the same charac- 
tion?^^^^' ^ '^^ ^°'^ ^" ^^^ ^*^' though less in degree than, that which 

exists in respect of emigration from India to 
colonies beyond the seas. The classes which furnish emigrants 
in both cases are extremely ignorant, and the interference of 
Government is required to secure that they are not imposed upon ; 
the transport between their homes and the place of labour, not- 
withstanding the improvements of recent years, is still long and 
tedious, and supervision is necessary to prevent overcrowding, 
disease, and consequent mortality ; and under the changed con- 
ditions of life, and especially of climate and food, which the new 
country imposes, the immigrant is peculiarly liable to sickness, 
often fatal in its results, and it is thus needful that the provision 
of the requisite comforts, medical attendance, and other appliances 
for his well-being should be enforced by law. Of these reasons, 
the first is yearly becoming less and less operative, as returned 
immigrants settle again in their homes, and form a centre of 
information as to work and residence in the tea districts for their 
neighbours. It is hoped that the second will also become less 
cogent as communications continue to improve. 

On the other hand, some regulation of the contract between 
the labourer and his employer, and some more effectual means of 
enforcing it than a civil action, is demanded by justice. It costs 
a large sum to import a coolie into Assam ; and the provisions 
for his comfort, which the law requires, are also expensive. The 



Se ctio n 4. employer is compelled by law to guarantee to the coolie a minimum 
Immigration "wage ; and it is only equitable that the law should provide him 

and Labour . ^ ^ „,.. 

Inspection, witli tlic meaus 01 oDtamuig the due fulfilment of the contract by 
the coolie, whose only capital is his labour, and who ought not to 
be allowed capriciously to withdraw himself from the service of 
the employer who has paid for his introduction. 

A penal labour law and Government protection, to the labourer 
are thus correlative terms ; and both have been provided together 
in the series of enactments which have from time to time been 
passed on the subject, and of which a sketch is given in the follow- 
ing paragraphs. 

136. The first of the labour Acts was Act III (B.C.) of 1863. 

This was an Act to regulate the transport 

History of legislation q£ native labourers emif^ratincr to Assam, 

on the subject. 00 ' 

Cachar, and Sylhet. In 1865, Act VI (B.C.) 
of that year was passed to provide for the protection of the labour- 
ers after their arrival in the labour districts and for the enforce- 
ment of the contracts entered into by them. Act II (B.C.) of 1870 
consolidated and amended the law relating to the transport of 
labourers to the labour districts and their employment therein, 
and repealed the two previous Acts. Then came Act VII (B.C.) 
of 1873, which repealed Act II (B.C.) of 1870, and was the labour 
law of the province for nine years. During the last three years of 
this period the amendment of the law regulating immigration and 
the relations between employers and labourers in the tea districts 
was under discussion. 

In April 1880, in consequence of a memorial by the Indian 
Tea Districts Association (an Association formed in London of 
persons interested in the Indian tea industry), praying that some 
measures might be taken to improve the position of the tea in- 
dustry by the amendment of Act VII (B.C.) of 1873, a Commission 
was appointed to enquire into the working of Act VII (B.C.) of 
1873. The opinions of district officers and of the managers of 
tea gardens consulted by them were laid before the Commission, 
as' well as the recommendations of the Lieutenant Governor of 
Bengal and those of the Chief Commissioner, and, after successive 


meetings, the Commission submitted its fmal report, with a draft Section 
Bill embodying the amendments proposed in the law, in January r — • 

"IQQT •' I fit migration 

^001. andLabour 


This draft Bill was eventually passed into law as Act I of 
1882. In giving his assent to this Act, the Secretary of State for 
India desired that at the end of three years he mio-ht receive a 
special report on the working of the Act, with a view to consider- 
ing the possibihty of abandoning all exceptional legislation respect- 
ing contracts of labour in the Indian tea districts. On receipt of 
the first special report, which was submitted in 1886, the Secretary 
of State agreed that the time had not yet arrived when special 
legislation might be abandoned, but added that such legislation 
should be regarded as temporary only, and desired that a further 
special report should be submitted after the lapse of another 
period of three years. This report was submitted in 1890, It 
was again admitted that exceptional legislation was still necessary, 
but as experience had shown that Act I of 1882 was defective in 
certain respects, it was decided to amend it. The draft amending 
Bill was introduced into Council in January 1893, and was even- 
tually passed as Act VII of that year. 

137. Act YII (B.C.) of 1873 had been passed in the expectation 
, , ^^^^ that it would give a great impetus to free immi- 

Object of Act VII . . 

(B.C.) of 1873 and its gration, and that such immigration would 
piiccipa provisions. gradually establish itself and eventually render 

the existence of a special law unnecessary. Among the changes 
made by the Act which were looked upon as most important, were 
those by which time-expired labourers were, on re-engagement, 
freed from the ordinary provisions of the law, and by which a new 
class of free labourers, those under contract for a term not exceed- 
ing one year, was recognised. The collection of labourers by 
means of garden sardars, without the intervention of contractors, 
was provided for ; and the opportunity was taken, in amending 
the law, to render more definite than before the provisions regard- 
ing the closing of gardens declared unfit for the habitation of 


Section 4. 233, The Commissioners appointed to enquire into the working 
Imi^niion of Act YII (B.C.) of 1873 reported that they 

luspeaion. Yif (B"c')^of ms'" '^'^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ ^^^ defective in respect 

chiefly of the following points : 

(1) That it did not afford sufficient encouragement to free emi- 


(2) That it imposed unnecessary restrictions upon sardari 


(3) That it failed to provide for the enforcement of contracts 

made otherwise than under the provisions of the Act itself, 
even in the case of imported labourers. 

(4) That the remedies provided for employers in the event of 

the unlawful absence, idleness, or desertion of their contract 
labourers, were insufficient. 

139. Act II (B.C.) of 1870 did not recognise free recruiting, 

but made it penal to engage or convey an 

Free immigration and immii^rant to the labour districts except in 

free recruiting. '-' . . , . 

accordance with its provisions. Act VII 
(B.C.) of 1873, which repealed the Act of 1870, contained no penal 
clauses forbidding free recruiting, and section 7 allowed contracts 
between an intending immigrant and an employer for a term not 
exceeding one year, although not made under the provisions of the 
Act. Under the present Act, I of 1882, a labourer may now 
proceed to the labour districts as a free immigrant, and on 
arrival he may take work on an ordinary contract not 
under the Act ; or, having gone to the labour districts as a free 
immigrant, he may on arrival enter into a contract under the Act ; 
or, lastly, he may go to the labour districts as an immigrant 
recruited and registered under the Act, and having executed a 
contract to labour before arrival in the labour districts. In the 
ffrst case he is in no way subject to the Act ; in the second case 
he is subject only to such of its provisions as refer to the carrying 
out of the labour contract ; and in the third he is completely under 
the Act from the date of his recruitment until the expiration of 
his engagement. 


140. As to tlie second point, under the old law a garden Section 4. 

sardar' s certificate was only allowed to run immT^tion 
Sardari recruiting. ^^^, ^.^ montlis ; lie was not allowed to travel "I^^'^^^"^^ 


with another garden sardar if the total number of their united 
band of immigrants exceeded twenty ; and if he recruited more than 
twenty immigrants himself, he was obliged to take tliem to a con- 
tractor's depot. Under the present Act, a garden sardar's certi- 
ficate may be given for a period of one year, and, on the appHcation 
of the employer by whom the certificate was granted, an Inspector 
or Magistrate may, without requiring the reappearance of the 
garden sardar before him, countersign and forward, for delivery 
to the garden sardar by the Magistrate of the district in which the 
sardar is employed, a fresh certificate in renewal of a former 
certificate. All connection between garden sardars and contractors' 
depots has been severed, and a garden sardar may now recruit anv 
number of persons. Moreover, the employment of local agents to 
supervise the operations of garden sardars, or, under special 
license, to recruit emigrants themselves and despatch them to the 
labour districts without the assistance of certificated sardars, has 
been authorised > 

141. With respect to the third point, labour contracts could not 

be made under Act VII (B.C.) of 1873 in a 
inuteiaLurSictr''"^' labour district. Labour contracts entered 

into in the tea districts, before the passing of 
Act I of 1882, were made under the ordinary law. Act XIII of 
1859 {an Act to provide for the pimis/unent of breaches of contract bij 
artificers, workmen, and labourers in certain cases) has been applied, 
and is still applied, in these districts to locally-made contracts ; 
but, as was remarked in the Statement of Objects and Eeasons 
published with the Bill which afterwards became the present Act 
I of 1882, " its provisions were obviously never intended to meet 
such cases." Act I of 1882, as originally enacted, permitted local 
labour contracts to be made in labour districts by any natives of 
India, whether immigrants to, or residing in, Assam on the same 
conditions and subject to the same penalties for breach of the 
conditions, as labour contracts made outside the province by 


Section 4. intending immigrants. As now amended, tlie Act distinguishes 

Immigration between contracts made in the presence of a Magistrate or 

Inspection. Inspector and contracts not so made, and permits contracts of the 

latter class to be entered into for a term of one year only. 

142. With regard to the fourth point as to which the Commis- 

sion considered that the law was defective, 
Penalty for unlawful ^^^ present Act provides for a system of 

absence irom labour. i jr j 

monthly lists of defaulters from work to be 
forwarded by the employer to the Inspector, who, on enquiry, may 
punish any such defaulter by entering the days of absence on his 
contract and adding them to the term thereof, unless the labourer 
consents to forfeit to his employer the sum of 4 annas for each 
day of absence. Prolonged and repeated absence, or desertion, may 
be punished criminally by the Magistrate as under the former law. 

143. The only other points in which the provisions of Act VII 

(B.C.) of 1873 were ahered by Act I of 1882, 
T-i^^I^p n*;^^^p"?Q"o'" ^^^ which need be noticed, are the extension of 

^ II (B.C.) or lo/3. ' 

the term, for which a labourer may contract 
to labour, from three years under the old law to five years under 
Act I of 1882 as originally enacted, and its subsequent reduction 
to four years by the recent amending Act ; the provision in the 
present Act that the maximum annual capitation fee leviable from 
employers for each labourer on contract under the Act shall not 
exceed one rupee (one rupee eight annas was the rate levied under 
the old law) ; and the provisions making it compulsory for all 
employers to keep up registers and submit returns of vital statistics 
of the labour force employed by them, whether on contract under 
the Act or not. 

144. Two important changes effected by Act VII of 1893, viz., 

the reduction of the general term of contract 
Aa viT of Tsot''^'"^ ^^' to four years, and of local contracts not made 

in the presence of a Magistrate or Inspector 
to one year, have already been referred to. Another important 
feature of the recent enactment is that it recognises what is known 
as the " Dhubri system. " As already stated, one of the main fea- 
tures of Act I of 1882 was that, while imposing careful restrictions 

Chap. III.j pQjjj^ Qj, ADMINISTRATION. 12; 

on recruitment by contractors and garden sardars, it aimed at Section 4. 
encouraging and facilitating free emigration. The result was that i>m^ation 
both contractors and garden sardars evaded the restrictions intend- 7nspeftion 
ed for them by refusing to register in the district of recruitment, 
and by bringing their coolies as free labourers to Dhubri and 
putting them under a local contract there. Although unforeseen, 
this system has, in practice, been found, on the whole, to work well, 
and Act yil of 1893 accordingly places it on a legal footino- by 
bringing contracts so executed within the scope of section 112 of 
the Act and by empowering the Chief Commissioner to make rules 
having the force of law for regulating the procedure for the execu- 
tion of these contracts. 

The other provisions of the amending Act are framed to prevent 
and remedy abuses in recruitment, and to strengthen the control of 
the Local Administration over unhealthy gardens. The cancellation 
of contracts in certain cases and the repatriation of coolies are 
provided for in greater detail, and the option of a fine is allowed in 
some cases in which imprisonment was formerly the only legal 

145. The whole subiect of the Govern- 

Government supervi- 

hion of the immigrant mcut supcrvisiou of the immigrant labourer 

falls into three parts : 
I. The recruitment of the labourer. 
II. His journey to the labour districts. 
III. His status while labouring under contract. 
The immigrant labour force of the tea gardens of the province 
is recruited by free immigrants (that is, by immigrants who go to 
the tea districts without having been registered and without having 
made contracts under the immigration Law) and by labourers who 
have been registered and who have executed contracts under Act 
I of 1882, imported through garden sardars authorised by employers 
to recruit, or through contractors and recruiters licensed by 

146. The extent to which free immigration exists will be apparent 

from the fact that out of 41,802 adult 

The free immigrant. immigrants who camc to the tea gardens of 

128 ASSAM ad:ministration report. [Chap. ill. 

Section 4. the province during the year 1892, 13,347, or 311) per cent., were 

iniT^ation " non-Act " or free. Ten years ago the percentage of free immigrants 

and Labour | ;|^3.5_ j^-^ ^his respect the reversal of the policy which 

Inspection. » ^ ± j 

framed the penal clauses of Act II (B.C. ) of 1870 has been complete. 
Section 7 of Act I of 1882 provides that nothing in that Act is to 
be taken to prevent natives of India from emigrating otherwise 
than under its provisions, and the only restriction is that allowed by 
section 5, under which power is reserved to Local Governments 
(with the sanction of the Governor General in Council) to prohibit 
natives of India, or any specified class of natives, from emigrating 
from any particular tract to any specified labour district or portion 
of a labour district. As, however, great sickness and mortality 
were found to exist amongst these free immigrants, an Act was 
passed by the Bengal Council in 1889 (No. I of that year), ena- 
bling the Local Government to exercise control over the routes by 
which they should travel and to make such sanitary rules as might 
seem to be needed. Tliis Act was extended to Assam by Notifica- 
tion No. 1211J., dated the 2nd April 1890 ; and rules under it have 
been framed for the regulation of the transit of free immigrants 
to gardens in the Surma Valley, where the mode of travelling very 
frequently adopted is by country boats carrying less than tT,fenty 
passengers. In the Brahmaputra Valley the Act is not needed. 
Almost all the coolies to gardens in that valley travel by steamer ; 
and as these steamers carry more than twenty passengers, they 
require to be licensed, and, in accordance with the rules framed 
under Act I of 1882, they must carry a medical officer and also 
medical stores and provisions. On board these steamers the free 
immigrant is subject to the same supervision as the Act labourer. 
When the transport is by boats carrying less than twenty 
passengers, which do not require to be licensed under Act I of 
1882, the rules framed under Act I (B.C.) of 1889 provide that 
the supply of food and water shall be similar to that prescribed 
for licensed vessels, and lay down that not more than one passen<Ter 
shall be carried for every 5 maunds of the capacity of the boat. 
They also empower any magistrate to detain any immigrant who 
is certified by a medical officer to be unfit to proceed on tlie journey. 


147. Tlie subject of recruitment by garden sardars has Section 4. 

been noticed above. A garden sardar must immigmtion 

Recruitment by £rarden vi ^i • i. t • • . ^ and Labour 

saidars. appear With the intending immigrant -whom inspection. 

he wishes to en^afTe before the registering 
officer of the area within which he has been authorised to recruit. 
Particulars of the intending immigrant are registered by the 
registering officer, and the labour contract is executed before him. 
The garden sardar is bound to provide proper food and lodging 
throughout their journey for the labourers and dependents whom 
he engages. If the garden sardar's employer has specified in the 
garden sardar's certificate that he \\ishes a medical examination 
to be made of labourers engaged, such an examination is 
required to be made with reference to the labourer's fitness to 
travel to, and to labour m, the labour district ; or if it appears to 
the registering officer or to any Magistrate or Embarkation Agent 
to be necessary that a medical examination should be made of any 
person about to emigrate under the Act, a medical inspection of 
the labourer's fitness to travel is made before he is allowed to 
proceed. It has already been explained that these provisions have 
to a great extent become a dead letter, and that the general 
procedure now followed is for the sardars to recruit coolies and 
bring them as free immigrants to Dhubri or to the garden for 
which they are recruited, and to place them under the Act at one 
or other of these places. 

148. Contractors and recruiters are licensed by other Govern- 

ments than that of this province, and their 
Eecriutment by con- supervision is onlv to a vcrv small degree the 

tractors and recruiters. ^ J J n 

care of this Administration. Contractors are 
bound to establish suitable depots for the reception and lodging of 
labourers engaged by them or by their .recruiters, previous to 
their despatch to the labour districts, and they are bound to 
provide food, clothing, and medical treatment for such labourers 
during their stay at the depot. 

An intending immigrant, who is engaged by a contractor or 
recruiter, must be brought before the registering oft'icer of the 
area in which he is recruited, and he must also be examined by a 



Section 4. medical officer, who niusi certify to liis fitness to travel before lie 
hnmigration is allowcd to procced. When the labourer reaches the depot, 
"'inspection. ^16 undergoes another medical examination by the medical inspector 
of the dejjot, and he executes his labour contract after it has been 
explained to him by the Superintendent of Emigration. Here also 
the restrictions imposed by the Act are, as a general rule, avoided 
by recruiting outside the provisions of the Act and only placing 
the labourers under contract after their arrival in the labour 

149. Practically, the whole of the immigration into the districts of 
_ the Brahmaputra Valley is by steamer, while 

Transport. . ^ J J ^ ■> 

that into the Surma Valley, which was for- 
merly almost entirely confined to boats, is now divided between boats 
and steamers in very nearly equal proportions. The provisions of 
the law with regard to Government supervision of the transport by 
rivei: steamers and boats and the food and medical comforts which 
they are required to carry have already been touched on. Licensed 
vessels containing immigrants are inspected at the port of 
embarkation, which is generally Dhubri or Goalundo for the 
Brahmaputra Valley districts, and Goalundo for the Surma Valley 
districts, by the Embarkation Agent and by a Government medical 
ofiicer if the Embarkation Agent be not himself a medical officer. 
They are also inspected by Government officers at all ports touched 
during the voyage w^here civil officers are stationed. At debar- 
kation ports, where the number of labourers annually landed is 
large, there are Government depots under the charge of hospital' 
assistants, to which all Act labourers and their dependents must go 
for the purpose of being registered. They are also open to the 
admission of all free immigrants who choose to avail themselves of 
their accommodation. Sick persons are, if necessary, detained in 
the depots for medical treatment. 

150. Every employer is bound to provide for the labourers 

employed on his estate proper house accom- 
th^gardfn. '^^°"''^'"' '''' modation, water-supply, and sanitary arrange- 
ments. He must supply Act labourers with 
rice at a reasonable price, and he must provide hospital accommo- 


Section 4. 
dation, medicines, and medical attendance. If an estate be - — 

declared by Government after enquiry to be unfit for tlie residence ami 'Labour 

of labourers by reason of climate, situation, or condition, labour -^'"/"^^'^^<"'' 

contract-s to labour on the estate cannot be enforced aiTainst the 


151. The duty of inspecting tea gardens upon which immigrant 

labourers are employed is performed by In- 

Inspection of estates. i * • t • pt ^ 

spectors and Assistant Inspectors 01 Labourers, 
most of whom are the officers of the Commission, and medical officers. 
Every garden employing imported Act labourers must be inspected 
at least once every year, and every garden in which the mortality 
shown in the return of the last calendar year has exceeded 7 per 
cent, (the number of deaths having exceeded 9) niust be inspected 
by the Civil Surgeon of the district. The inspection reports state 
what house accommodation, water-supply, medical attendance, 
hospital accommodation, and sanitary arrangements have been 
provided, and what the food-supply is. They also notice the 
general treatment and condition of the labourers, and record their 
vital statistics. In the case of unhealthy gardens a special form of 
inspection report has been prescribed. 

152. Contracts under the Act cannot be made for a term exceed- 

ing four years, and the minimum monthly wage 

Labour contracts under i-i i i_'i.-ip • -rt kp 

Act I of 1882. which can be stipulated tor is ixs. 5 tor a 

man and Es. 4 for a woman for the first three 
years of the term of contract, and Es. 6 for a man and Es, 5 for a 
woman for the fourth year of the term of contract. They must 
also state the price at which rice is to be supplied to the labourer. 
Schedules of tasks must be kept by employers, and if found to be 
unreasonable, may be revised by an Inspector of Labourers. 
Weakly labourers may be allowed subsistence allowance or diet by 
order of an Inspector of Labourers, and labourers permanently 
incapacitated for labour may be released from their contracts by 
an Inspector. A labourer so released is entitled to receive from 
his employer such sum, not exceeding three months' wages, as the 
Inspector may award, or, if the labourer desires to return to his 
3ountry, such sum, whether in excess of three months' wages or 


Section 4- j^ot, as will suffice to defray the expenses of the journey. A 
Immigration labourer may redeem his contract by payment of a sum of Ke. 1 

and Labour ici -i • f ^ o x-no 

Inspection, for evcry month of the unexpired portion of the nrst year, 01 Rs. 6 
for every month of the second year, and of Es. 5 for every month 
of the third and fourth j^ears of the term of contract. A contract 
may be cancelled if ill-usage by the employer is proved, or if the 
labourer's wao:es are in arrear for more than four months. When 
the contracts of husband and wife expire at dillerent times, the 
Magistrate may equalise the terras of their contracts by adding to 
the one and deducting from the other in such proportions as may 
appear to him to be equitable. Labourers who, without reasonable 
cause, absent themselves from labour during their terms of contract, 
or who desert, are punishable with fine and imprisonment. In the 
case of a first conviction for the offence of desertion, the imprison- 
ment may extend to the term of one month ; for a second conviction 
the term may extend to two months, and for a third conviction to 
three months. When a labourer has suflered imprisonment for 
terms amounting altogether to six months for desertion, his labour 
contract must be cancelled. 

153. The fund raised from fees, fines, and rates levied under 
the provisions of the Act is called the Inland 
^ The Labour Transport Labour Transport Fund. The law directs that 
the fund so raised in a province shall be at the 
disposal of the Local Government, who must apply it, under 
the control of the Government of India, for defraying the 
expenses of carrying out the purposes of the Act, including the 
cost of sending labourers and other persons back to their native 

The income of the fund in the year 1892-93 amounted to Es. 
78,763-100, of which Es. 64,043-4-6 were raised in Assam and 
Es. 14,720-0 6 in Bengal. The expenditure during the same year 
amounted to Es. 71,994-2-7, of wJiicli the Assam share was 
Es. 47,682-7-10. The principal local heads of receipts were 
Capitation fees under section 109 (now levied at the rate of 8 
annas per head) Es. 54,975-3-0, Depot receipts Es. 5,460-2-9, and 
Contractors' license fees Es. 3,148. The heaviest items on the other 



side of the account were Depot charges Es. 8,680-10-4, Supphes Sections. 
and Services Rs. 8,625-9-4, Clerks and servants Us'. 8,453-10-8, p^v 
Inspectors, Embarkation Agents, etc.. Us. 5,782-6-1, Grants to ^^°''^^' 
dispensaries Es. 5,530, TraveUing allowances Es. 5,081-1-0, and 
Miscellaneous Rs. 3,774-15-10. In addition to the above, Es. 
9,591-5-3 were transferred to the Bengal portion of the fund, which 
showed a deficit to that extent. 

154. For the more efficient administration of the Public Works 
Department in Assam, it was found necessary, 

OrganisatiDn of the „ , , -fo/>r> i /^ • • 

department. ^s tar bacK as Ibbb, to vest the Commissioner 

with the powers of a Local Administration, 
subordinate to the Government of Bengal. But his authority to 
sanction expenditure was then limited to works the cost of which 
did not exceed Es. 5,000. The Superintending Engineer was at 
the same time invested locally with the powers of a Chief Engineer, 
and was appointed Secretary to the Commissioner in the Public 
Works Department. On the formation of the Chief Commissioner- 
ship, therefore, the organisation of the Public Works Department 
was already in some measure adapted for a separate Administration. 
The transfer of Sylhet and Cachar to Assam added an executive 
charge to [the three already existing in the Brahmaputra Valley ; 
and a fifth was created on the transfer of the headquarters of the 
Administration to Shillong, when important public works in the 
public buildings which had to be erected, and the roads which had 
to be made, were thereby rendered necessary. 

Until the end of the official year 1881-82, the organisation of the 
Public Works Department in the province underwent little change. 
The districts of Sylhet and Cachar constituted the Sylhet Division ; 
Godlpdra, the Gdro Hills,* and a portion of Kdmrup the Lower 
Assam Division ; the remainder of Kdmrup with the Khdsi Hills the 
Shillong Division ; Darrang, Nowgong, and part of Sibsdgar the 
Central Assam Division ; and Lakhimpur and the remainder of 

* In the Gaio Ilills, public works are directly under the Deputy Commissioner, who is 
assisted in carrying them out by an upper subordinate of the Public Works Department. 


Sections, gibg^aar the Upper Assam Division. After the close of the Naga 
Public Hills expedition of 1879-80, these hills were made into a separate 
division. In 1882 the Public Works executive divisions were 
made conterminous with the civil districts of the province, and the 
Eno-ineer establishment was increased accordingly. These changes 
were synchronous in their effect with a large transfer to the 
charge of Local Boards of works which had theretofore been 
classed as Provincial ; and it was at the same time ruled that the 
officers of the Public Works Department in each district were not 
only responsible for the due execution of Imperial and Provincial 
Works, but were also (except in the hill districts, where Local 
Boards do not exist) to act as assistants to the Chairmen of Local 
Boards for carrying out works under the Local Boards' control. 
It will be explained in the next section that many of the works 
made over to Local Boards in 1882 were afterwards found to be 
less effectively administered than they were when classed as 
Provincial, and that they were consequently again made over to 
the direct control of the Pubhc Works Department. Experience 
also showed that the position assigned to Executive Engineers in 
the arrano-ements of 1882 was not altogether satisfactory. It was 
therefore decided to sever their connection with local works, 
except as regards works definitely made over to them for execution 
by the Boards and the duty of assisting the Boards with their 
advice on professional matters when called upon to do so ; and as 
the sphere of their duties was thus considerably restricted, it was 
decided to revert in part to the distribution of Public Works 
charges which obtained prior to 1882. Kdmrup and Goalpiira 
were combined into one charge under the name of the Lower Assam 
Division, and Darrang and Nowgong were amalgamated to form the 
Central Assam Division. The other districts remained, as previously, 
in charge of separate Engineers, These orders took effect in 

The only changes that have since been made are the for- 
mation of a new division in the North Lushai Hills, and the 
temporary appointment of a special officer, as Superintendent 
of Works, with a sanctioned staff of Executive and Assistant 

Chap. III.] 





Imperial roads. 

Provincial roads. 

Local roads. 









Lower Assam 

Central „ 

Sibsdgar .. 


Kh4si and Jaintia Hills 

KAga Hills 

G4ro „ 

Nlchugnard-Manipur Road Circle 

North Lushai Hills . . 





















2,1 683^ 


From an administrative standpoint, the most important roads 
are the new mihtary road from Golaghat to Manipur, the Assam 


Engineers, to supervise the construction of the Kohima-Manipur Section 5. 

155. The facilities for communication by water which are pro- 
vided by the river system of the Brahma- 
putra and Surma Valleys have been already 
alluded to. Communication by land is less easy. When the 
British occupied the province, roads were practically unknown, for, 
although the remains of ancient embankments (chief amongst 
which is the Gosain Kamala Ali, which stretches from Eangpur 
to Sadiya) bear witness to the existence of numerous roads at 
some period of the past, the anarchy which preceded the annexa- 
tion of the country by the Company had been so great and so 
prolonged, that they had been allowed to fall into utter disrepair, 
and were of little or no use to travellers. During the early period 
of British rule very little was done to improve matters ; but since 
1861 a more active policy has found favour, and considerable 
sums are now spent annually on the construction of new roads 
and the maintenance of those already in existence. The mileage 
under roads in each district of the province is detailed below : 



Section 5. Trunk road, and the hill road which connects Shillong, the head- 
Pubiic quarters of the z\dministration, with the Brahmaputra at 
Gauhati. For local requirements, the short feeder roads, which 
connect the centres of trade in the interior with the muJchs or 
stations at which the river steamers stop, are by far the most 
useful. A notable feature in the statement given above is the 
very small proportion of metalled as compared with unmetalled 
roads. Two reasons may be given to account for this, firstly, 
that the requirements of the province in the matter of communica- 
tions are still so great that many more miles of road must be 
constructed before any large amount of money can be spared for 
improving those already in existence ; and, secondly, that the soil 
is alluvial, and stones for metalling would consequently have, as 
a rule, to be brought from distances so great as to make the cost 
involved in doing so prohibitive. The fact that in some parts, 
particularly in the Surma Valle}", communication by water com- 
petes with communication by road during the rainy season is, 
another reason why less money is expended on roads in these 
tracts than would otherwise be necessary. 

156. Owing partly to the excellent water carriage available 
and partly to the backward nature of the 

Railways. . . , 

country, railway enterprise has not hitherto 
made much progress. But signs of a new condition of things are 
not wanting. Within the last ten years three small lines have 
been constructed, viz., the Dibrugarh-Sadiya Eailway (77'5 miles) 
in Lakhimpur, the Jorhdt-Kokilamukh line (28'40 miles) in Sibsagar, 
and the Theria-Companyganj line (8| miles) in Sylliet. Of these, 
the firstmentioned was constructed by the Assam Eailways and 
Trading Company with a State guarantee ; the other two are 
purely State Eailways, constructed by Government without the 
intervention of private capitalists. An attempt to extend the last- 
mentioned line from Theriaghat at the foot of the Shillong plateau 
to Cherrapunji at its summit, by means of a series of inclines, was 
unsuccessful ; but the plains portion is still worked. It more than 
pays for the cost of its upkeej), aud it is not unlikely that it 
will, sooner or later, be extended to Chhatak on the Surma river. 

Chap. 111.] rOHM OF ADMINISTRATION. 1,37 

But the most important railway project which Assam has yet Section 5. 
seen still remains to be mentioned. Between the 3'ears 1882 and ^"^^/'^ 

^ ^ . Works. 

1886, a railway survey party was engaged in Assam in making 
a survey with a view to laying down a line connecting this 
province with Bengal. The route followed by this survey runs 
from Chittagong through the south of the Sylhet district to Badar- 
pur in Cachar, thence througli the North Cachar Hills to Lumding, 
near Dimapur, and from Lumding, via Golaghat, to Dibrugarh, 
with a branch line from Lumding to Grauhati.* A survey of the 
country between Gauhati and Dhubri had been carried out some 
years previously, when the Eastern Bengal State Railway was 
under construction. It was lono^ a matter of discussioiL whether 
greater advantages might be expected to ensue from a railway 
along the route surve3"ed in 1882-1886, or from a line running 
laterally along the Brahmaputra Valley between Dibrugarh and 
a point on the Eastern Bengal State Railway, thus connecting the 
whole of the northern portion of the province with the existing 
railway system of Bengal. For some years no practical result 
supervened, as want of funds prevented the construction of a line 
at the expense of the State, and negotiations with private capital- 
ists were not successful. During the year 1891-92, however, a 
company was at last formed to construct a railway along the former 
of the two routes described above, subject to a guarantee by the 
State, and work was commenced in November 1891. It is hoped 
that the line, when finished, will be the means of largely opening 
out the province ; but, as some years must elapse before the 
construction of the railway can be completed, speculation as to 
the consequences which may be expected to result from it would 
be premature. 

157. The annual assignment to the province for Imperial Public 
_ . , TTT , Works varies from year to year, the o'rant 

Imperial Works. . / ./ ' ^ o 

being fixed according to the requirements 

* A line between Mymensinf^h and GaubAti throiigb tbo Garo Hills was also 
surveyed, and found to be practicable for a railway, but at a cost so great as to be 



[Chap. 111. 

Section 6. of the time. The grants for the last three years, together with the 
Local Self- expenditure, are shown below : 


Imperial (utlay. 














Military Works 















158. The Provincial assignment for Public Works is fixed 
annually by the Chief Commissioner. The 
grants for the years 1890-91, 1891-92, and 
1892-93, as compared with the expenditure, 



are given below 















Civil Works . . 







Jorhat State Eailway, Capital 







Cherra-Comranyganj State Railway, 







Jorhat State Railway, Revenue 







Cherra-Companyganj State Railway, 







Subsidised Railways 














This is exclusive of expenditure on public works by Local 
Boards, figures for which will be found in the next section. 

159. Besides the agency of Government officers, much assist- 
ance is given to the administration of the pro- 
Assain^ ^^'^^ '" viucc by local bodics, who administer funds 
raised under special enactments or placed at 


their disposal by tlie Chief Commissioner. These are either muni- Section 6. 
cipahties for town areas, or Local Boards for the district at LocaTself- 

laro"e Government. 

160. The municipalities are the older institutions. Under 
this general name are included — (1) Munici- 

Miniicipalities. ,. . ^ „ ^ ,^. ^ 

palities properly so called ; (2) Stations, whose 
administration is less independent than that of the first named ; 
and {3) Unions, or towns where a rate is assessed by a panchayat 
for the purpose of providing funds for local improvements- 
Of these, Sylhet, Gauhati, and Dibrugarh are municipalities 
under Act III (B C.) of 1884 ; the others are all constituted 
under the provisions of Act V (B.C.) of 1876 ; Silchar, Dhubri, 
Goalpara, and Barpeta being second-class Municipalities ; Shillong 
and Sibsdgar, Stations ; and Habiganj, Jorhat, and Golaghat, 

In the municipalities of Sylhet, Gauhati, and Dibrugarh the 
elective system is in full force, and rules for the conduct of elections 
have been framed under section 15 of Act III (B.C.) of 1884. A 
system of election has also been introduced, at the instance of the 
ratepayers, for the choice of members to sit on the Committees at 
GotUpdra and Silchar. The official members of all municipal 
institutions are very few in number ; and although the Chairmen are 
officials in all cases except that of the Sylhet Municipality, the Vice- 
Chairmen are usually non-officials. 

161. These bodies derive their income partly from taxation 
and partly from other sources. The taxation 

Municipal income. ^ , ^ . ..,., . ^ • n • i c 

levied m municipalities is cliieny m the term 
of a tax on persons or buildings, a latrine tax, and a water-rate (in 
Gauhdti) ; in stations the taxation is a house assessment, and in 
unions a chaukidari tax. Other small items of taxation are taxes 
on animals and wheeled vehicles. These taxes are levied under 
the provisions of the Act under which each municipality, etc., is 
constituted. No octroi or other duties are taken anywhere in the 
province. Of the other sources of income, the most important are 
the receipts from ferries [levied under the provisions of sections 
148-156 of Act III (B.C.) of 1884, or sections 1S9-147 of Act V 


Sectiox 6. (B.C.) (f 1S7G, as the case may be] from municipal pounds, tlie 
Local Self- Incouie fi'om municipal markets, and the assignments from Provin- 
Government. ^-^^ ^^_^j Local Funds enjoyed by several municipahties. The last 
item consists of grants made in commutation of the land revenue 
of the town areas, which in the early days of tlie province was 
allowed to be appropriated to the improvement of the towns. In 
1892-93, municipalities enjoyed an income of Es. 1,76,511-2-0, of 
which Es. 8,728-9-0 were derived from taxation and Es. 89,221-9 
from other sources. The total expenditure during the same year 
amounted to Es. 1,52,916-3. Some account of the working of 
municipal bodies will be found in Part II 13 of the General Adminis- 
tration Eeport, Chapter III, Section 8. 

162. The Local Boards are constituted under the Assam Local 
Eates Eegulation, 1879. They exist in the 
Local Boards. ^-^^^^ plains districts only, the hill districts not 

being sufhciently advanced to admit of their establishment. By 
the ?iegulation a rate may be levied of one anna on every rupee of 
annual value of the land in these eight districts, and the rate so 
levied forms the chief item in the income of the Local Boards. 
Prior to May 1882, these Boards were charged with the administra- 
tion of primary education, the district post, and repairs of district 
roads and general improvements, the funds to meet these heads of 
expenditure being provided from five-eighths of the local rate, 
ferries (excluding a few retained as Provincial), rents, and other 
miscellaneous items of income, and the surplus receipts from 

In 1882, the functions of the District Committees were 
enlarged by the transfer to their control of grants-in-aid to all 
schools except high schools, grants to dispensaries, fairs, rewards 
for the destruction of wild beasts, the cost of the establishments 
for collecting the local rate, circuit-houses and staging bungalows, 
grants to municipahties, and almost all the pubhc works thereto- 
fore classed as Provincial. To meet these charges, the Provincial 
grants, previously allotted for them, were made over to the 
Local Boards, tosfether with the three-fifths d the local rate 
which had formerly been credited to provincial funds. The 


Public Works establishments were transferred to " Local," and Section 6. 
so also were most of the Sub-Inspectors of Schools in plains ^^^^^ ^^^-_ 

districts. Government. 

The effect of these orders was to place under Local Boards 
the entire control of all local expenditure, except that immediately 
connected with the administration of the province. It was soon 
seen that the change was too radical, and the policy of subsequent 
years up till 1890 Avas to reduce in some degree the too extended 
functions of the Boards by withdrawing from their control the 
management of matters of Provincial, rather than of strictly Local, 
interest. In the first place (in 1884), the charges on account of 
the professional establishment of Executive and Assistant Engineers 
and such of their subordinate officers as were borne on the list of 
the Public Works Department, were retransferred to the Provincial 
budget. At the same time the construction and repairs of 
treasuries, jails, circuit-houses, churches, cemeteries, floating dak 
bungalows, and cutcherries at headquarters stations were again 
classed as Provincial works. 

Three years later the construction and repairs of similar 
buildings at subdivisions were made a Provincial charge, and so 
also were dak bungalows (as distinguished from rest-houses) and 
grants to municipalities. In the same j^ear, the Sub-Inspectors of 
Schools, who had been made Local in 1882, were again brought on 
to the Provincial list. Finally, in 1890, the principle that Local 
Boards should deal only with matters of purely local interest was 
extended to that portion of Public Works which comes under 
the denomination of " Communications." Trunk roads and their 
feeder lines connecting them with the steamer ghats and with sub- 
divisional stations, together with all ferries and rest-houses on such 
roads, were made Provincial. All roads not included in the above 
category continued to be " Local," as theretofore ; and as these 
were of purely local importance, far greater independence was 
conferred on Local Boards in respect to their management than 
had been found possible when the Boards were entrusted with the 
upkeep of roads, the importance of which was not confined to the 
area administered by any particular Board. 



[Chap. 111. 

Sectiox 6. At the same time, the opportunity was taken to introduce 
Local Self- gi'eater continuity in the administration of Local Funds, by allot- 
Goveynment. |-jj^g |q g^^^|-^ Board Provincial grants fixed for a term of years, 
instead of an annually varying amount. On the expiry of the 
term for which these grants had been made (in 1893), the wants of 
each Board were carefully considered and new grants were 
allotted ; but, instead of these grants being absolutely fixed, it was 
arranged that they should be increased annually by 2 per cent, 
in order to meet o-rowinf^ wants. Tliis arrans^ement will continue 
in force until 1898, when the amount of the different grants will 
again be revised and a fresh allotment will be made. The total 
income of Local Boards in 1892-93 was Rs. 11,57,920, of which 
Hs. 7,15,184 represent the receipts from local sources of income, 
and Rs. 1,89,783 the Provincial grants. The expenditure in the 
same year amounted to Rs. 9,02,146, of which Rs. 6,13,235 
represent the expenditure on local public works. In the following 
statement the expenditure by the Local Boards on public works 
for the past three years is shown : 




Local Fund outlay. 

Final grant. 


Final grant. 


Final grant. 


Original Works — 

Civil Buildings 


Miscellaneous Public Improvf- 



















Total .. 











Repairs — 

Civil Buildings 


Miscellaneous Public Improve- 
ments . . 

2,00,71 G 
















Tools and Plant, 




2,23 » 


49,0 74 


Grand total 

6,S7,000 4,74,062 



6,61,000 6,13,236 


163. Prior to 1882 tlie administration of Local Funds within Section 6. 
a district had been vested in a District Com- ucai Seif- 

Constitution of Boards. i, T ^ l. i -^f Government. 

mittee, with subordniate branch committees 
in each subdivision. In that year the subdivision was made the 
unit of administration for Local Boards, each Board being entirely 
self-contained and independent. At the same time an attempt was 
made to introduce the elective principle for the selection of mem- 
bers, instead of the system of nomination which had previously been 

It was decided that election should be the normal mode of 
appointment of representatives of the tea interest, who were to form 
half the non-official strength of all Boards in districts where that 
interest was important. An attempt was also made to select, by 
means of election, the representatives of the native community in 
Kdmriip, Sibsrigar, and Sylhet; but the success met with in these 
districts has not been such as to encourage the extension of the 
elective system to the other districts in which there are Local 
Boards. In the latter, therefore, the native members are still 
appointed by the Chief Commissioner on the recommendation 
of the Deputy Commissioner. Non-official members, whether 
elected or nominated, hold office for two years. 

Concurrently with the above changes, the number of officials 
on the committees was reduced considerably, and there are now 
on the average only three or four official members of each Board. 
The Chairmen are still, in all cases, officials, it being considered that 
for the present their guidance and supervision can most profitably 
be exercised from within, rather than from without, the Boards; 
but, although they preside at the Board meetings and are the 
executive officers of the committees, they have no vote, except 
a casting one when members are equally divided. 

164. Local Boards are required to meet not less than four times 
a vear for the purpose of transacting]^ such 

Procedure. '' , ^ , , . ^ , . , -, , . 

business as may be laid before them by their 
executive officers, the Chairmen. For the more important branches 
of their administration (public works, education, and medical and 
sanitation), sub-committees are appointed, who are supposed to 


Section 7. meet moiitlily and to refer important matters for the consideration 
Finance, of the full Board. 

One of the most important duties of the Boards is the prepara- 
tion of the annual budget, which is submitted in October. The 
works are entered therein in the order of their importance, but no 
work can be entered until the administrative sanction of the Chief 
Commissioner has been accorded to it. 

Formerly, the Executive Engineer was the servant of the 
Board, and was responsible for carrying out its undertakings. But 
this arrangement was not altogether satisfactory, and in 1890, 
when the separation of Provincial from Local works was effected, 
the opportunity was taken to place the relations between the 
Boards on the one side, and the officers of the Public Works 
Department on the other, on a more definite basis. Greater in- 
dependence was given to the Boards as regards the selection of the 
agency for the execution of works not requiring professional skill ; 
but it was ruled that when a work was once made over to the 
Executive Engineer, he was to be allowed to carry it out in his 
own way, subject to the necessity of furnishing the Board with 
information regarding its progress, and of taking up each work in 
the order of importance indicated by the Board. It was proposed 
to make over a subordinate officer of tlie Public Works Department 
to each Board for the supervision of such works as it might decide 
to execute without the aid of the Executive Engineer ; but it was sub- 
sequently found that the Provincial establishment was not large 
enough to provide every Board with such an officer, and it was 
therefore decided (in 1892) that each Board should engage and pay 
for its own staff. It was afterwards ruled that all appointments to 
the engineering staff require the sanction of the Chief Commissioner, 
and a fixed scale was laid down showing the maximum scale of 
establishment permissible for each Board. 


165. The year 1892-93 was the first of a new contract between 
the Provincial and Imperial Governments. 

'rovincial contract. ^ , 

The province was formed in 1874, and it 


will be convenient to divide the period from that year to the year Sectiox;. 
under review into four sections corresponding with the terms of Finance. 
the different contracts, viz., (1) from 1874 to March 1878, (2) 
from 1878-79 to 1881-82, (3) from 1882-83 to 1886-87, and (4) 
from 1887-88 to 1891-92. 

(1) When the province w^as formed, in 1874, it took over its 
proportional share of the then subsisting Provincial contract of 
Bengal, the principle of which was that certain heads of expendi- 
ture were handed over to the control of the Local Government, 
together with the resources for meeting them, consisting partly 
of the receipts under the same heads and partly of a fixed consoli- 
dated allotment from the Imperial revenues. Any deficit w^as to 
be made good by the Local Government, and any surplus was to 
be applied to Provincial purposes. 

(2) From the beginning of 1878-79 a second contract was 
made upon a more extended basis. Certain heads of revenue w^ere 
handed over, with their charges, completely to the control of the 
Local Administration, and the principle was introduced of Provin- 
cial responsibility for works undertaken for Local and Provincial 
purposes. Under this arrancjement, the province received the 
whole revenues from Excise, Provincial Plates, Stamps, Eegistra- 
tion, Law and Justice, Police, Education, and a few minor heads, 
together with 20 per cent, of the Land He venue, and undertook 
the whole responsibility for the charges of these departments, 
besides those for Administration and Provincial Public Works. 

(3) The principle of the contract of 1882-83 differed from that 
of the previous one, chiefly in the following points : — Instead of 
Provincial revenues taking the whole receipts and charges under 
certain heads, these were equally divided between Imperial and 
Provincial. The only heads formerly Provincial which remained 
so were Provincial Eates, Post Office {i.e., the District Post only), 
Law and Justice, Police, Education, Medical, Stationery and Print- 
ing ; the revenue yielding Departments of Excise, Stamps, and 
Eegistration, formerly entirely Provincial, were shared equally 
between Provincial and Imperial both under receipts and charges ; 
and Forests, formerly entirely Imperial, was added to the shared 



ECTioN 7 heads. As this left the province in deficit, an equiUbrium was 
Finance, re-estabhshed by allotting to Provincial Funds, in addition to the 
above resources, a fixed percentage of the Land Eevenue sufficient, 
in the year of contract, to adjust the account. This proportion 
was a little over 63 per cent. Land Eevenue charges were shared 
m the same proportion as receipts. There remained wholly Ln- 
perial only Opium (cost price) and some small miscellaneous receipts* 
and, under charges, Interest, Assignments, and Compensation, the 
Offices of Account, Ecclesiastical and Political charges, a few 
other miscellaneous heads, and Imperial Public Works. 

(4) The year 1887-88 was the first of a new quinquennial con- 
tract. This contract differed from the last in several respects, 
principally as regards revenue. These differences were: — (1) The 
grant to the Local Administration of the whole of the Land 
Revenue, instead of only a percentao-e, as in the last contract, 
subject to the contribution of a certain fixed sum to Imperial 
revenues, so that the Local Administration enjoyed the whole of 
any increase in the land revenue of the province during the cur- 
rency of the contract ; (2) the percentages of the Stamps and 
Excise revenues made over for Provincial uses were 75 and 25, 
respective!}^, instead of 50 in the last contract ; (3) the grant of a 
moiety of the revenue from Assessed Taxes for Provincial uses, 
whereas in the last contract the revenue from this source was 
reserved for Imperial purposes. Under the expenditure heads, 
the charges on account of " Survey and settlement " and " Charges 
on account of land revenue collections " (two heads of account 
subordinate to the general head of Land Revenue) and those on 
account of Stamps and Excise were shared between the Imperial 
and the Provincial Governments to the same extent as the revenues 
were shared. This was also the principle in the last contract, but 
' the percentages were not the same. A moiety of the expenditure 
upon " Assessed Taxes " now became a Provincial charge, and 
tlie political expenditure in the province, which was formerly an 
Imperial charge, was transferred to the Provincial side of the 
account. The new contract provided for a scale of expenditure 
amounting to Rs. 49,08,572, and the revenues and receipts made 


over to the Provincial Government were estimated to cover tins Section 7. 
expenditure exactly. In the previous contract the revenues and Finance. 
receipts made over to Provincial uses were estimated to exceed the 
scale of expenditure provided for in the contract by Rs. 1,09,000. 

This contract expired on the 31st March 1892. During its 
currency several alterations were made, which affected the distri- 
bution of revenue and expenditure between Imperial and Provin- 
cial, the principal of which were that Marine and Political charges 
were transferred from the Imperial to the Provincial budget ; that 
Imperial made a grant to the province of Rs. 1,82,500 on account 
of Capital expenditure on the Cherra-Companyganj and Jorhat 
State Railways ; and that Assam made a special contribution to 
Imperial of one lakh of rupees out of the seventy-four lakhs which 
the Imperial Government demanded from Provincial Administrations. 

The contract was also considerably affected by the grant to 
Provincial revenues of the amount of extra expenditure incurred 
by Assam owing to the Lusliai outbreaks of 1890 and 1891. The 
progress of the revenue and expenditure of the province during 
the period of this contract was shown in considerable detail on 
pages 119-124 of the Provincial General Administration Report 
for 1891-92, and may be thus summarised : 

The contract provided for an annual expenditure of Rs. 
47,40,000, or a total for the five years of Rs. 2,37,00,000, and 
revenue sufficient to meet that sum was provided in the contract, the 
estimated annual excess, Rs. 13,12,000, being treated as a contri- 
bution from Provincial to Imperial. The actual Provincial receipts 
during the five years aggregated Rs. 2,62,40,000, or an excess over 
the contract of Rs. 25,40,000. The expenditure exceeded the con- 
tract allotment by Rs. 18,65,000. The Provincial opening balance 
on the 1st April 1887 was Rs. 6,84,000, and at the close of the 
contract, on the 31st March 1892, the balance was Rs. 13,59,000. 

The total Civil Receipts surplus over the contract was Rs. 
15,96,000, mainly due to increase in the Land Revenue (lis. 
12,50,000) and in Forest Receipts (Rs. 2,81,000). The receipts 
under Jails and Police at no time came near the contract estimate^ 
The increase in Civil expenditure under the heads included in 



c direct demands on the revenue was almost entirely in the Forest 

bECTlON 7. '' 

expenditure. The cost of the Civil Departments was Es. 8,99,000 
more than the contract allotment, but much of this was due to the 
transfer of Marine and Political expenditure to Provincial, and to 
extra expenditure in the North Lushai Hills, all of which was met 
by a corresponding reduction in the contribution made to Imperial 
by Provincial. 

A satisfactory feature in the finance of the province during this 
period was the continually decreasing cost of collecting the land 
revenue, due to the gradual substitution of tahsilddrs, as revenue 
collecting agents, for the mauzadars, who were paid by commis- 
sion on the amounts of their collections. 

The amount spent on Public Works out of the profits that 
accrued to the Local Administration on the terms of the contract, 
?'.£?,, in addition to the contract allotment, was Es. 8,01,000. 

This contract came to an end on the 31st March 1892. In the 
estimates for the new contract, the expenditure, which was based 
on the revised estimates of 1891-92, was taken at Es. 52^80,000 ; 
and as the receipts worked out to Es. 54,53,000, the Government 
of India proposed to resume the difference of Es. 1,73,000 per 
annum. Subsequently, however, it was decided not to resume this 
surplus, but to leave the province in the same financial position 
as under the contract which came to an end on the 31st March 
1892. The following figures were, therefore, adopted: 


Revenue, excluding adjustments -•• ... 65^36,000 

Adjustments through the Land lievenue head ... 10,83,000 

Total Provincial Revenue ... ... ... 54,53,000 

Total Provincial Expenditure ... ... 54,53,000 

The main features of the new contract were (1) that all interpro- 
vincial adjustments ceased ; the charges paid by other provinces on 
account of Assam, and vice versd, were taken into account in fixing 
the expenditure, and it was decided that such charges as had been 
paid during the previous contract by one province on account of 


the other should continue to be so paid, but that no claim should Section 7. 
be made by either province for reimbursement; (2) the whole of Finance. 
the Land Eevenue receipts were allowed to remain Provincial, 
subject to a lump adjustment in favour of Imperial revenues ; (3) 
certain changes of classification were made, as shown below, 
which slightly altered the figures adopted at first for the contract ; 
(4) the new contract was a consolidated one, and not a collection 
of separate contracts for each Provincial head, and therefore no 
separate amounts were stated for each head of Provincial revenue 
and expenditure. 

The lump contribution to Imperial was finally fixed at Es. 
11,27,000, thus : 


Expenditure ... ... ... ... 54,53,000 

Compensation to Provincial for change of classifi- 
cation of charges of the office of the Inspector 
General of Police, &c., formerly charged to divided 
heads, but now to be charged to General Adminis- 
tration, a head wholly Provincial ... ... + 4,000 

Compensation to Imperial for Comptroller's office 

Provincial establishment now to be made Imperial — 5,000 

Ctmpensation to Imperial for charge of plain paper 
used with court-fee stamps to the divided head 
" Stamps," instead of to'the wholly Provincial head 
"Stationery and Printing" ... ... — 2,000 

P eduction of charges formerly debited inter-provin- 

cially to Assam, now to be borne by other provinces — 41,000 

Expenditure thus revised ... ... ... 54,09,000 

Kevenue ... ... ... ... 65,36,000 

Contribution, Provincial to Imperial ... 11,27,000 

Subsequently, a question arose as to the claim to the increase 
in Land Kevenue, not estimated for in the contract, due to the 
re-assessment of the Assam Valley districts, amounting to Es. 


Section 7. 7,59,000 a year. In settling this question, the terms of the 
Finance. Contract under which a certain sum was allotted for expenditure 
in the Lushai Hills were also amended. The actual amount of the 
expenditure in 1891-92 was taken as the assignment in the 
contract for Lushai charges, viz.., Pis. 3,56,000 per annum, and 
it was settled that, to meet any excess over that amount of the 
charges in the portion of the Lushai country now under the 
control of the Chief Commissioner of Assam, an equivalent portion 
of the excess of Land Eevenue over the amount now to be allotted 
to Assam should be made wholly Provincial. 

Listead, therefore, of the whole of the Land Eevenue being 
Provincial, it was decided that the ordinary increase should be 
taken at Rs. 66,000 per annum, and that the Provincial claim 
should be limited in — 

1893-94 ... ... ... ... to 47,74,000 

1894-95 ... ... ... ... „ 48,40,000 

1895-96 ... ... ... ... „ 49,06,000 

1896-97 ... ... ... ... „ 49,72,000 

Of the excess over these amounts, a sum equivalent to the 
excess of the actual charges in the North Lushai country over 
Es. 3,56,000 and of the actual charges in the South Lushai country 
(when that tract was transferred to Assam) over the assignment 
which might be transferred from Bengal with the territory, would 
also be wholly Provincial, and that of the remainder one-fourth 
would be Provincial. 

166. Exclusive of the receipts of purely Imperial Departments 

(Post Office, Telegraph, Military, and Imperial 

Total revenues of the PubUc Works), the acrfrrefrate revenue now 

province. '' or^ o 

(1892-93) derived from the province is nearly 
105 lakhs of rupees. The principal heads are Land Eevenue (47J 
lakhs). Opium (4 lakhs), Stamps (8 lakhs). Excise (26 lakhs), Pro- 
vincial Eates (5^- lakhs), Assessed Taxes (2^ lakhs). Forest {Z\ 
lakhs), Eegistration (i lakh), and Tributes {\ lakh). The receipts 
by Civil Departments aggregate about 5 lakhs, and Public Works 
receipts, including receipts for Ferries, 2-J lakhs. Since 1882-83 



the revenue lias risen from 81^ to 105 lakhs, or by nearly 29 per ^. 

cent. Land Eevenue and Excise show the most marked increase, ^'"^"^^• 
8J and G lakhs respectively. The item under THbutes is a receipt 
from the Manipur State, and appears for the first time in the ac- 
counts of this province. The receipts under Assessed Taxes, being 
recoveries under Act II of 1886, also constitute a new feature. 

167. The ordinary Civil expenditure is now 47^ lakhs, and the 

Public Works Provincial and Local expendi- 
Tctal expenditure of ture about 2U laklis, or about 69 lakhs in 

Ihe province. 

all, leaving a surplus of 36 lakhs as the con- 
tribution of the province to the general expenses of the Empire. Of 
the Civil expenditure (47^ lakhs), about 13 lakhs represent direct 
demands upon the revenue, such as Cost of Collection, Refunds, 
Assignments and Compensations, &c., about 32 lakhs represent 
salaries and expenses of the Civil Departments, including General 
Administration, and about 2^ laklis are expended in Pensions, 
Stationery and Printing, and other miscellaneous charges. 

168. The receipts and expenditure of the Imperial Depart- 

ments (Post Office, Telegraph, Military, Ma- 
Surplus how disposed j.jj-^e^ r^^^ Imperial Public Works) aggre- 
gate, in round figures, 42 and 32 lakhs, re- 
spectively, as compared with 18 and 20 lakhs, respectively, in 1882- 
83. The increase in the receipts is almost entirely under Post 
Office, and is due to expansion of money order and savings banks 
transactions. The excess expenditure is chiefly under PublicWorks. 
The Provincial surplus (36 lakhs), and the net receipts of the 
Imperial Departments (10 laklis) aggregate 46 lakhs. This is remit- 
ted to Calcutta by means of currency note remittances and supply 
bills granted on Assam treasuries, to the agents of tea planters and 
others. Notes of the higher denominations accumulate largely in 
the Assam treasuries. They are imported by planters and Mar- 
■wari traders, and find their way into the treasury as revenue either 
through revenue collectors (mauzadars) or purchasers of opium 
and excise license-holders. There are no banking establishments 
in Assam. Nearly 29 lakhs of these notes were remitted to 
.Calcutta in 1892-93. The supply bill payments amounted during 


Section 7. the same year to upwards of 45 lakhs, and about 16 lakhs in coin 
Finance. Were placed at the Comptroller General's disposal at Calcutta by 
means of transfers to currency chests. By this means money 
which was not required in Assam was placed in currency in Assam, 
the equivalent required in other provinces being withdrawn from 
currency and placed at the disposal of Government for treasury 
purposes, thus saving all charges of remittance. Accommodation 
was thus offered to the commercial public in Assam and in 
Calcutta to the extent of 90 lakhs, the amount being made up of 
the local surplus, 46 lakhs, supplemented by the issue of bills upon 
other provinces, about 31 lakhs, and by remittances from Calcutta 
and withdrawals from the currency chests, 13 lakhs, equivalent 
sums being placed in currency chests in other provinces where 
coin was not immediately required. 

For bills issued upon Assam a premium of J per cent, is 
realised by Government ; those issued by Assam are granted at 
par, except in the case of bills in favour of Messrs, Macneill and 
Co., the Elvers Steam Navigation Company's Agents at Dhubri, 
for their earnings paid into that treasury, upon which a premium 
of a quarter per cent, is levied. 

169- Dividing the revenues and expenditure between Imperial, 

Provincial, and Local in accordance with the 

Provincial revenue ^emis of the current contract, the annual 

and expenditure. 

revenue of Provincial and Local Funds in 
1892-93 aggregate, in round figures, about 64j lakhs, and the ex- 
V penditure 66 lakhs. The expenditure exceeds the receipts, in 

consequence of the permission, granted by the Government of 
India, to the Local Administration to utilise on Provincial Public 
Works about five lakhs from the accumulated Provincial 

The following are the chief heads of expenditure in round 
numbers : 

Direct demand on the revenues (collection, &c.) ... 11,20,000 
Administration ... ... ... ... 2^48,000 

Law and Justice — Courts of law ... ... 5,44,000 



Law and Justice— Jails ... ... 85,000 

Police ... ... ... ... ll,G(i,O00 

Marine ... ... ... ... 99,000 

Education ... ... ••• ... 3,39,000 

Medical ... ... ... ... 2,76,000 

Political ... ... ... ... 2,68,000 

Public Works ... ... ... ... 21,50,000 

Since 1882-83 the Assam portion of the Inland Labour Trans- 
port Fund has been transferred from Bengal (in 1884). The Local 
income and expenditure included in the above figures are Es. 
9,69,000 and Rs. 9,59,000 respectively, of which the portions per- 
taining to the Liland Labour Transport Fund are Pis. 64,000 and 
Rs. 57,000 respectively, the remainder representing transactions 
of the nineteen Local Boards, which exist in the eight plains dis- 
tricts of tlie province. There has been no change in the heads of 
receipts and expenditure entrusted to these bodies, but there have 
been several transfers between Provincial and Local, cliiefly in the 
expenditure upon Public Works, which have resulted in a reduc- 
tion of the amount of Provincial contribution to the Local Boards 
and of the Local Boards' expenditure. In 1882-83 each Local 
Board received from Provincial varying amounts sufficient to 
cover the difference between the Local income and Local expen- 
diture. Each Board now receives from Provincial a fixed annual 
contribution, plus or minus the amount of its closing balance, i.e., 
of the surplus or deficit of the penultimate year. The balances 
are taken in the accounts as lapsing to Provincial at the end of 
the year, and are regranted as contributions. 

170. The Local Funds, which are excluded from the general 
Excluded Local Funds. accounts, are the following : 

Section j. 

(1) Municipal Funds. 

(2) Cantonment Funds. 

(3) Town Funds. 
(4j Williamson Educational En- 
dowment Funds. 

Of these, the first has been described in the preceding section, 
and the last has also been mentioned above in paragraph 124. 




Character of Land Tenures and System of Settlement 

and Survey. 


Section i. 171. The Ordinary land tenures in Assam vary considerably in 
Land r.. • • . , , ■ difl'erent parts of the province. Distinct 

y. Division of the subject. ^ 

""'^^' systems of tenure are found in — 

(1) Assam Proper, (3) Sylliet, 

(2) Goalpara, (4) Cachar, 

(5) the hill districts, 

"while several varieties of special waste land tenures granted 
by Government at different periods exist in all the plains dis- 

172- There are three main classes of ordinary tenure in 

the Assam Valley exclusive of Goalpara, 

A.smn Proper raiyai- ^iz., raiyatwdvi, nisf-Miivoj, 2iXidildkhiraj, The 

wari, tenure. ' ./ ^ J y J' 

original raiyatiodri tenure is of the simplest 
character: the raiyat holds on annual or decennial lease from the 
Government, being free to relinquish the whole or any part of his 
holding or to take up new lands, provided that notice is given to 
the revenue olFicers at the proper time of the year. In 1870 a set 
of rules for the encouragement of ten-year (instead of annual) 
leases was sanctioned by the Bengal Government, expressly 
declaring that holdings so settled should be heritable and trans- 
ferable, on condition of the transfer being registered in the Deputy 
Commissioner's office, while holders on annual patfa were left 
without any legal assurance on these points. The principle of these 
rules was afterwards embodied in the Land and lievenue Regula- 
tion of 1886, which confers a permanent, heritable, and transferable 
right on persons holding land under a decennial lease, but recog- 


nizes no rights beyond those expressed in the lease in the case of Se ction ' i. 
annual tenants. The Eules of 1870 remained practically inopera- Land 
tivft until 1883, when they were recast, and a general system of 
ten-year settlements was introduced in all parts of the Assam Valley, 
where the cultivation and occupation of land are of a permanent 
character.* The large tracts of land, however, consisting chiefly 
of the chaporl, or inundated tracts along the rivers, and the thinly- 
peopled country under the hills, where only shifting cultivation is 
practised, were left to the system of annual settlements, as the only 
one adapted to their peculiar circumstances. In the five districts 
of Assam Proper, the bulk of the more permanently cultivated land 
is, therefore, now held under a ten-year settlement, during the 
currency of which die raiyat is guaranteed against enhancement of 
the revenue rates. He is at liberty to relinquish any portion of 
his holding that consists of entire fields, and to take up new lands ; 
while he will receive compensation from Government for any lands 
taken up for a public purpose. The rest of the area, where a 
fluctuating system of cultivation prevails, is resettled annually on 
the basis of actual occupation ; and if dispossessed by Government 
for a public purpose, the raiyat is only entitled to compensation for 
the value of trees, houses, crops, &c., actually standing on the land 
at the time of its resumption, but not to compensation for the land 

173. Chamuas are said to have originated in the early days of 
British administration, when raiyats sometimes 

Chamuas a.ndkhirai-1-Juils. -, i • ■, c 

made over their leases to some person 01 
standing in the neighbourliood, and paid their revenue to him in 
order to avoid the exactions of the inauzaddrs. An estate thus 
formed was called a chamiia, and the chamuaddr was allowed the 
privilege of paying direct into the Government treasury. The only 
chamua still remaining is situated in the Barpeta subdivision. 

There is one estate called a klidt in Kamriip and another in 

* Although nominally decennial, all snch settlements are fixed so as to expire in the 
same year, so that only those settlements which are made in the first year of the term are 
actually made for ten years. All decennial leases now being issued will expire in the 
year 1903, so that leases issued in 1893-94 will be for a term of ten years, those issued in 
1894-95 for nine years, and so on. 

X 2 



Section i. Nowgong, while in Lakliimpur there are two khirdj-khat^. The 
Lajtd owners of these estates, hke the chamuaddr of Barpeta, pay their 
revenue direct into the Government treasury instead of through the 
mauzaddr. Except for this privilege, there is nothing to distinguish 
the holders of these tenures from ordinary raiyats. Their estates are 
mostly cultivated by sub-tenants, who pay a grain rent of half the 
produce of their fields {ddhyd), or, where cash is taken, the 
Government rates, except in the more densely-peopled parts, where 
land is specially valuable. Where the Government rates only are 
paid, the landlord's profit consists in the command of his tenants' 
services for supplies, carriage, and house-building, and for reaping 
and harvesting his crops, and in such occasional contributions as 
he is able to levy. 

174. The history of the nisf-khirdi tenure in Assam is a curious 
example of the manner in which rights in 

Nisf-khirdi and lokhirdi in . • it -i , 

estates. land are sometimes allowed to grow up. 

Former rulers of the country had granted 
certain lands rent free for religious and other purposes (that is, 
had assigned to persons or institutions the Government right to 
the revenue, then taken mostly in labour, of these lands). The 
last Ahom ruler, however, Chandra Ivanta Singh, imposed on the 
lands in question a tax called kliarikdtdna, of 6 annas a pura (a 
measure of four bighas), which continued to be levied by the 
Burmese invaders after their conquest of the country. When Assam 
became British by conquest, all these grants were held to have 
lapsed ; but Mr. Scott retained the moderate assessment which he 
found in force upon them, adding later on 2 annas a pui^a, so that 
the whole assessment came, as left by him, to 8 annas a pura. In 
1834 the Government directed that a full enquiry should be made 
into all claims to hold land rent free, as debottar, dharmottar, or on 
any other plea, throughout the districts of Assam. Captain Bogle 
was appointed to make this enquiry, subject to the control and orders 
of the Commissioner, Captain Jenkins. Another officer, Captain 
Matthie, was also similarly employed. At the same time the 
following principles were laid down for the guidance of these officers : 
(1) All rights to hold land free of assessment founded on grants 


by any former Government were to be considered as cancelled ; Section i, 

and it was pointed out that all claims for restoration to any Umd 

such tenures could rest only on the indulgence of Govern- ^^'"^^«-^- 

(2) All lands found to be held in excess of what was held and 
possessed on Z^o?i(2 yic/e grants prior to the Burmese conquest, or 
for services still performed, as well as all lands held for services 
no longer performed, w^ere to be assessed at full rates. 

(3) All lands held on bona fide grants before the Burmese 
conquest, or for services still performed, were to be reported to 
Government ; on receipt of the report, special orders would be 
issued on each case. 

(4) Captain Jenkins might in his discretion suspend the orders 
for bringing any particular land on full rates ; but he was to 
submit his reasons for the consideration of Government. 

(5) Pending the lakhiraj enquiry, Mr. Scott's moderate rates 
were to be levied as before on all lands claimed as lakhiraj 
(whether as dehottar, brahmottar, dharmottar, or on whatever plea) 
until brought under assessment at full rates, or until orders to the 
contrary were received from Government. 

The work was commenced in 1834, but was not concluded till 
1860, and in the lapse of time these orders were altogether forgotten. 
Instead of referring the cases which came before him for the orders 
of Government, General Jenkins dealt with them in a manner 
which was not authorised by his instructions. He drew a distinc- 
tion between dehottar, or temple lands, and other grants, such as 
brahmottar (personal grants to Brahmans for religious service), 
dharmottar (grants to religious communities other than temples, or 
for pious uses), &c. In the case of the first, when he found the 
grants to be bond fide and valid, he confirmed them as revenue free, 
without, as he was ordered, referring the case to superior authority. 
In all other cases oihond Rde and valid grants, he simply confirmed 
the grantee in possession, and directed that, as ordered in his in- 
structions, the land should be assessed as before, i.e., at Mr. Scott's 
favourable rates of 8 annas a pM?^a, pending the Qnal orders of 


Section- I. Government on the ^Yllole question. Where the hxnd held was not 
Ta'^d found to be lield under a bond fide and vahd grant, it was resumed 
Tenures. ^^^^ settled at full rates, which in those days were Ee. 1 a jmra. 
But no reference was ever made to Government on the conclusion of 
the proceedings ; and thus until 1861, when the revenue rates 
were raised throughout Assam, the second class of lands continued 
to be assessed at rates which, though this was not expressly in- 
tended, were, as a matter of fact, half the rates prevailing for 
other lands. 

The question what was to be done with these lands was not 
again stirred till 1372, when a long correspondence began, which 
was not finally closed till 1879. It was considered by the Govern- 
ment of India that the grantees having so long been suffered to 
hold at half rates, it would not be judicious to make any alteration 
in their status ; and so General Jenkins' unauthorised action was 
condoned. These half-rate holders were at that time called, 
equally with the revenue-free holders, Idkhirdjddrs. The term 
nisf-khirdjddr was adopted in 1871, as a more accurate de- 
scription of their status as landholders liable to be assessed at only 
half the current rates of revenue, whatever these may happen to 

A nisf-hhirdjddr enjo3"s the further privilege of paying for the 
waste land of his estate onl}^ one-eighth of the rate assessed on 
ordinary rwpit land in the neighbourhood. Nisf-kliirdj estates 
generally are settled for a term of ten years throughout the Brah- 
maputra Valley. 

Three-fourths of the total number of nisf-hhivdj estates are 
situated in the district of Kamrup and date from the last period of 
Ahom rule, when the seat of Government had been transferred from 
GarhgaoD to Gauhdti, and the Ahom kings gave away lands whole- 
sale with all the zeal of recent converts to Hinduism. The Idkldrdj 
or dehottar grants, on the other hand, are usually of older date, the 
most ancient being ascribed to kings Dharmapal and Vanamdla, 
who are said to have reigned between 1100 and 1200 A.D. 

These estates are, like the chamuas and khirdj-Ichdts already 
mentioned, ordinarily cultivated by sub-tenants, who, when their 

Te mires. 


superior landlord is (as is generally the case) a religious institution, Sectiox i. 
are known as paiks or hliakats of the temple or chaitra ; they usually Land 
pay only the Government rates as rent, but are in addition bound 
to do service for their, superior landlord. 

175. The history of the permaijently-settled portion of Goalpara 
,, , has been eiven above (paragraphs 80 and 

Goalpara. ^ . Vi o r 

81). It consists of nineteen permanently- 
settled estates and eight small temporarily-settled holdings. These 
between them cover the whole district, excluding the Eastern Duars. 
Twelve of the nineteen permanently-settled estates are those 
of the border Chaudhuris described in paragraph 89. The remaining 
seven consist of lands held originally revenue free on invalid titles? 
which were resumed in consequence, and settled at :\,jama fixed in 
perpetuity. The eight temporarily-settled estates include five chars, 
which are farmed yearly to the highest bidder. Of the remaining 
three, two are resumed Idkhiraj, and the third was acquired by 
Government as a free gift from the zemindar. 

176. The Eastern Duars comprise five separate tracts, viz., 

^ , Biini, Sidli, Chirano', Eiplm, and Guma. The 

Eastern Duars. ox 

last three are the sole property of Government, 
and are managed on the same system as the raiyaticdri tracts of 
Assam Proper, the only difference being that cultivation is entirely 
on annual leases, and that the revenue rates are lower than those 
prevailing in Assam. Bijni and Sidli, with the exception of tli3 
submontane forests wdiich have been excluded from them and 
brought under conservancy, are the estates of the Etijas of the 
same names. But they are at present managed by Government on 
the same terms as the remaining three Duars, a fixed percentage of 
the revenue realised being paid over to the zemindars. 

177- The land tenures in the district of Sylliet (excluding 

Jaintia, which was not annexed to the district 

SylLet. . ' 

until 1835) present a remarkable contrast to 
those of all the districts of permanently-settled Bengal except 
Chittagong. In no other district was the permanent-settlement 
preceded, as in these, by a survey ; in no other district were the 
zemindars passed over at that settlement in favour of the superior 


Section- i. raiyats or middlemen called mirasdars or taluqddrs* (c/. the Cliitta- 
2^ goni? tarafdars). The consequence of the survey is that all lands 
Tenures. ^^i^\^\y^ the Surveyed portion of the district which were not settled 
in 1791-92, the date of the decennial settlement, and have not 
since been specially settled in perpetuity, are the property of 
Government and held under temporary settlement. The result of 
the settlement having been made with a large number of middle- 
men is that while in the districts of permaneutly-settled Bengal 
estates are counted by tens or hundreds, in Sylhet they are counted 
by thousands, and the individual revenue of each estate is generally 
very small. Of 49,946 permanently-settled estates at the close of 
the 3'ears 1892-93, only 469 paid a revenue of over Es. 100, and 
20,621 paid under one rupee. Thus, Sylhet is distinguished (1) by 
the large proportion of its area which is not permanently settled, and 
(2) by the extremely small payments of revenue due from individual 
estates, which make the collection (in the absence of ynufassal 
revenue establishments, entertained nowhere in permanently-settled 
districts) a peculiarly difficult and complicated task. 

178. The permanently-settled tenures of Sylhet are all held on 
the same conditions, but have received the 

Permanently-s ettled . ^ ^ . . . 

tenures. nani8s given below with reterence to their 

revenue history : 

(1) Dassana, estates included in the decennial settlement of 
1791-92, which in 1793 became permanent ; in 1892-93 these 
numbered 25,967, and paid a revenue of Es. 3,16,838. 

(2) Bdzyajti Ddimi, lands resumed by the Special Commis- 
sioner appointed under Eegulation III of 1828, and then permanently 
settled. Number 23,028 ; revenue Es. 39,605. Of these, 33 estates 
paying a revenue of Es. 402 are in the Jaintia parganas. 

(3) Ildin lands settled permanently (see below under tempora- 
rily-settled estates). Number 9 ; revenue Es. 26. 

** The above statement docs not apply to (1) parganas Taraf, Bamai, and Putijiiri, 
forniing zila Laskarpur in the Ilabiganj subdivision, whicli were transferred to Sylhet 
from the Dacca and Mymensingh districts after the assessment for the decennial settle- 
ment had been effected and (2) certain parganas in the Sunumganj subdivision which 
could not be surveyed on account of difficulties with the Khasis. In other parts of Sylhet 
also, the settlement was occasionally made with the zemindars, and not with the raiyats. 


^4) Khds Ddimi, permanently-settled estates purchased by Section i. 
Government at sales for arrears of revenue and sold again as Land 
permanently-settled. Number 4.'^5 ; revenue Rs. 5,782. 

(5) Hdldbcidi. The term hdldhddi literally means "recently 
cultivated, " but in Sylliet it is applied to all lands not included 
in the decennial settlement of 1791-92. The so-called hdldbddi 
(also known as dbddi or jawjal dbddi) pattas or sanads were 
granted between the ^^ears 1791 and i8u7. They contained no 
express limitation of the term of settlement, and in 1869 were 
held by Government to have been settlements in perpetuity. 
Number of estates 474 ; revenue Es. 2,767. 

(6) Khds hdldbddi, estates belonging to class (5) whi(ih, having 
been bought in by Government at sales for arrears of revenue 
have been resettled permanently. Number 31 ; revenue Es. 1,337. 

(7) Permanently -settled loaste land grants. The proprietors of 
three hdldbddi estates paying a revenue of Es. 9-5-3 claimed a large 
tract in the Eaghunandan hills. Their claims were compromised 
by the grant in perjDctuity of two estates covering an area of 1,659 
acres and paying a revenue of Es. 9-6-0. 

(8) Dhali Miijrai, mahdls exempted from assessment on 
condition of the holders furnishing dhali servants for the Sylhet 
Collectorate. At present two such servants are furnished. There 
are 41 such estates in Sylhet, covering an area of 377 acres. 

179. The temporarily-settled estates of Sylhet Proper are also 
rn ., .~^ A known under different names, but by far the 

Temporanly-s e 1 1 1 e d ' -J 

tenures. most extcusive class is that called ildm. In 

consequence of the success met with in Behar in bringing under 
assessment land not included in the decennial settlement which 
afterwards became permanent, the pargana pdtwdris were, in 
1802, directed to prepare and submit schedules of lands in their 
respective parganas, which had not been included in that 
settlement. On receipt of these schedules, the Collector issued 
proclamations {ildms) inviting claimants to any of the lands to 
come forward ; but no one appeared to claim them. These lands 
have thus acquired the name of ildm or proclaimed lands. During 
the years 1829 to 1834, these ildm lands were surveyed, and in 



Section i. jg^^^^ those that were found cultivated were settled with the occu- 
Land pants if willinfT to engaf^e ; otherwise they were farmed. The term 

Tenures. ^ o o o ' ^ ^ 

of the first settlement was ten years for cultivated and fifteen years 
for jungle lands, and it was subsequently renewed on its expiry for 
successive further periods. In 18G9, a systematic survey was 
commenced, and revised rules of settlement and a form of patta 
were drawn out. These rules were again revised in 1875 and 
modified in 1876. The resettlement commenced in 1871, and was 
practically concluded in 1881. On resettlement, all waste lands in 
excess of one-fifth of the cultivated area of an estate were, as a 
rule, excluded from the settlement. In order to protect the rights of 
Government in these excluded lands, and to prevent encroachment 
by the neighbouring permanent settlement-holders, a special form of 
farming lease was sanctioned in 1889, Holders of these leases have 
no right to resettlement. Holders of ilcim pattas, on the other 
hand, have a permanent and heritable right of occupancy subject to 
payment of the revenue assessed and to acceptance of the terms of 
settlement. But, as the proprietary right vests in Government, 
they have no title to mdlikdna if they refuse to engage. The last 
settlement of ildm lands in zilas Parkul and Latu, which expired 
on 31st March 1893, has been extended for one year. The settle- 
ment in the rest of the district will expire on different dates 
between 1st April 1894 and 31st March 1896. There are 3,262 
ildm estates, with a total area of 97,571 acres.* 

So much of the ildm area as was not included in the settlement 
of 1835 and subsequent years has been entered in the waste land 
register as waste at the disposal of Government ; much of it has 
been taken up by tea planters on the tenures to be described in the 
next section. 

The rest of the temporarily-settled area in Sylhet falls apart 
into two divisions : first, the small tenures settled on the same prin- 
ciple as ildm lands, but different in their origin ; and, secondly, the 
areas held kltds by Government, in which, instead of makinir over 
definitely the use and occupancy of the land to a settlement-holder 

■* Exclusive of ildm lands in parganas Pratabgarli and Egarasati, whicli have been 
cadaatrally surveyed. 


who may eventually become a middleman, the Government has re- Section i. 
tained the management in its own hands, and deals directly with the Land 
cultivators. The first class consists of 2,428 mahdls covering an area 
of 24,214 acres, and technically known by the following names: 

(1) Ncinkdr patwdrigari. — Lands formerly held by the pargana 
pdtwdris as ndnkdr, i.e., in lieu of salary. The pdtwdris were 
abohshed in 1833, and the lands were ordered to be assessed in 1835. 

(2) Char-bhardt. — Alluvial accretions, which in Sylhet all belong 
to the State. 

(3) Bil-hhardt. — The silted-up beds of hils, which were excluded 
from the permanent settlement because they were then useless. 

(4) Izdd. — Surplus lands discovered after the permanent 
settlement (but not formally proclaimed as the ildm lands were), 
and thus not included in it. 

(5) Resumed revenue- free land. — Resumed because found to be 
held on invalid titles. 

(6) Khds. — ^The khds lands in Sylhet are, for the most part, 
originally ildm estates, the settlement of which has for various 
reasons broken down ; in some the holders as a body refused to 
accept resettlement with joint responsibility ; in some, Government 
has bought in the estate at sales for arrears of revenue ; in some 
the settlement has been cancelled for default inpayment of revenue. 
These estates are, for the most part, situated in the Karimganj 
subdivision of the Sylhet district, which contains a large area of 
waste land stretching south to the Tippera Hills. They are 
managed by the tahsilddrs of the Pratabgarh and Hakaluki 
tahsils upon principles in general similar to the raiyatwdri settle- 
ment of Assam Proper. Certain fixed rates are' laid down, and 
raiyats are free to take up land when they please at those rates, 
after application to the tahsilddr. The Mas lands in the Pratdb- 
garh tahsil have been cadastrally surveyed. 

In addition to the above, the term ''khds''' includes- also petty 
permanently-settled estates of httle value, bought in by Govern- 
ment at sales for arrears of revenue and not resettled' in perpetuity. 

A full account of the last settlement of the estates in classes (1) 
to (5) and of the petty estates in class (6) will be found- in 


S«cTio;j I. paragraph 51 of the Administration Eeport for 1880-81. This 
Land settlement will expire in 190G-7. 

180. The Jaintia parganas have, since they first came under 

, . ,. British rule, been temporarily settled.* The 

Jaintia parganas. 5 r j 

first rej?ular settlement was made in 1838-40, 
when the tract was professionally surveyed and measured. It was 
made for a term of five years, at the end of which it was further 
extended for ten years, and then again extended, so that the 
settlement of the whole area expired in 185G. In that year the 
whole of Jaintia was resettled, without remeasurement, for twenty 
years. This settlement expired in 1876, when a nev/ settlement was 
begun, which, owing to errors in the classification and assessment of 
land, was not finally completed until 1882. The term of settlement 
will expire in 1894, and resettlement operations are no^ in pro- 
gress, the tract having been cadastrally surveyed for this purpose*. 

181, Besides these permanently and temporarily settled 

estates in Sylhet, there are, as in other 

Ld^^/ra; estates. . ti 7,77. ,• r. 

districts, valid iakliira] or revenue-iree estates* 
There are in all 11,489 revenue-free estates, with an area of 41,914 
acres, including — 

(1) 178 grants, which were declared valid after resumption 
proceedings under Eegulations II of 1819 and III of 1828. 

(2) 6,345 petty grants, mostly under 10 bighas in area, which 
were exempted from assessment under order of the Bengal Govern- 
ment in 1841. 

(3) Kasha Sylhet. — These estates are nominally all less than 10 
bighas in extent, but many, as a matter of fact, greatly exceed 
this area. This anomaly probably originated through fraud, but 
it is hard, if not impossible, to rectify it now. Eesumption 
proceedings were initiated many years ago, but the cases were 
struck off for no apparent reason. The number of these estates 
has been returned as 2,554, with an area of 4,560 acres. f 

° With the exception of 33 permanently-settled and 29 revenue-free estates. The 
former consist of lands claimed as revenue-free, but resumed by the Special Commissicmer 
appointed under Regulation III of 1828 and subsequently permanently settled. 

f These figures, wliich are taken from a chitha drawn up by a former Collector for the 
pyrpose of aaeeesing chaukidiri tax, are only approximate. 


(4) 2,412 redeemed estates, consisting of ildm estates paying Se ction i. 
a revenue of Ee. 1 and under, which were sold at auction revenue Land 

16)1 TiY&S 

free and other estates redeemed on payment of twenty or twenty- 
five times the annual revenue. 

182. In the plains portion of Cachar there is, excluding the 


waste land grants, but one form of revenue- 

paying tenure, that known as mirdsddri. 
The peculiarity of the system as found in this district is that joint 
responsibility for the revenue prevails among all the holders of 
a mahdl, who are usually numerous. In this district, on the 
margin of cultivation and settlement, it has been the custom from 
the days of the native rulers to the present time for bodies of 
cultivators, often consisting of persons of quite different castes, 
and even of combinations of Hindus, Musalmans, and hillmen, to 
join together in a coparcenary body in obtaining the settlement 
of new land. The Government deals with them as a single holder, 
and they arrange among themselves the distribution of the revenue 
payable, the joint responsibility, however, remaining. This system 
is a curious survival of primitive conditions which is now tending 
to break up, though division of responsibility is not yet formally 
recognised in Cachar. Whether in long-settled mahdls, or in new 
allotments of waste (the latter being known as jVm^a/^z^n grants 
and given on a progressive assessment), the niirdsddri tenure is, 
in face of Government, the same. The cultivators have a perma- 
nent, heritable, and transferable right of use and occupancy of the 
land, subject to payment of the revenue assessed and to acceptance 
of the terms of settlement. The settlement of Cachar, like that of 
the temporarily-settled lands in Sylhet, is for a term of years. The 
existing settlement, which is for a term of fifteen years, will expire 
on the 31st March 1898.* 

There are a few Idkhirdj or revenue free estates in Cachar, 
being the grants held by dependents of the old royal family, or 
dating from the time of native rule. These are known as bakhsha 

•* The Jangalburi Rules have since been be repealed, so far as futui'e applications for 
land are concerned, by settlement rules framed for the Surma Valley under sections 12 
and 29 of the Land and Revenue Regulation. The diaft of these rules does not provide 
for the settlement of waste land at progressive rates, 


Section i. j^^^^jg^ ^^(j ^j-g revenue-free only so long as they remain in posses- 
Land gJQ^ ^f the grantee and his heirs ; when alienated, they are liable 

Tenures. ^ 

to assessment like other mirdsddri lands. 

183. In the hill districts there is no land , revenue settlement 
properly so called, except in a few isolated 
I lb nc p. tracts. The strip of plains land which en- 

closes the Gdro Hills on three sides is managed on the system of 
settlement which obtains in Assam Proper, save in one portion, 
where the zemindars of Mechpdra hold certain land as part of their 
permanently-settled estates, and manage it themselves. The terms 
of tenure are similar to those of the annual pa ^^a -holders of Assam. 
In the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, a class of land known as rajhdli, in 
the Jaintia Hills subdivision, has since the year 1886 been assessed 
to land revenue under special rules, the rate charged being 10 annas 
per bigha. In the Naga Hills district there is also some land in 
the Nambar forest, which is held on annual joaiia. In the rest of 
these districts Government does not assess the land, but the houses. 
Each village, however, in the Garo, Khdsi and Jaintia, and Naga 
Hills has its own known lands, in which rights of private owner- 
ship' are recognised to a degree which seems surprising in so 
primitive a state of society. The system of cultivation by ^/A^m, 
which prevails throughout the greater part of this area, demands 
lonc' periods of rest during which the land becomes reclothed 
with forest; and it is often difficult to believe that what 
seems an uncared-for wilderness is really the jealously-guarded 
private property of a clan, family, or village. But the case is so ; 
and no quarrels have been more enduring or more bitter among 
these people than those relating to land. The customs of land 
tenure among these primitive races are often strangely complicated 
and full of interest ; but they have as yet been insufficiently 
explored, and it is impossible to describe them at length here. The 
practice of tidxing houses, instead of assessing the land, prevails 
also in certain remote parts of the plains districts, such as- the 
North Cachar subdivision and the Mikir Hills in Nowgong, while 
from the Miris in Lakhimpur and the Tipperas in Sylhet a 
poll-tax is collected in lieu 



184. In a province like Assam, thinly peopled and sparsely Section 2. 
cultivated, with a boundless extent of waste, Waste Land 
o/3e knd if AsSr.*' inviting new settlers, the terms upon which 

land is allotted for extension of cultivation 
have always naturally been a subject of much consideration. The 
discovery of indigenous tea in Assam and of the possibility of 
growing this important staple on a large scale in the plains 
portion of the province, has given a special impetus to the taking 
up of waste, and the various rules which have from time to time 
been issued have generally had the extension of tea cultivation in 

165. It is not intended in this section to deal with the ordinary 

tenures, common to all revenue-paying lands 

Waste taken up on or- |^ ^j^g district, on which land under tea, like 

dinary tenures. ' 

that under any other crop, may be held. 
There is a considerable extent of land in Assam Proper, amounting 
at present to 86,382 acres, held by planters under the ordinary 
raiyatwdri leases described above, the greater part of which is 
under tea, and in Cachar the mirdsddri tenure is the favourite form 
in which land is now taken up for tea cultivation. The jangatburi 
or reclamation lease in this district, which is allotted to any ap- 
plicant whose appropriation of the land will not prejudicially affect 
existing rights, gives a lease at favourable rates for twenty years, 
for the first two years of which the land is revenue free, for the 
next four it is assessed at 3 annas an acre, for the next four at 6 
annas, and for the remaining ten at 12 annas, after which the land 
is assessable at the ordinary district rates for lands of similar 

186. ITie following is an account of the special terms under 

„ . , which waste land grants are held from Govern- 

ment in the various districts of the province* 

Only one of these systems, ^;^V., the Thirty-years' Lease Rules, is 

now actually in force for new applications ; but grants made under 


Section 2. all of tlie prior rules actually exist, and are governed by the con- 
Waste Land ditions in force at tlie time when they were given. 

I. The first special grant rules were those of the Gth March 
• 1808, and related to Assam Proper only. No grant was to be 

made of a less extent than 100 acres, or of a greater extent than 
10,000 acres. One-fourth of the entire area was to be under 
cultivation by the expiration of the fifth year from the date of 
grant, on failure of which the whole grant washable to resumption. 
One -fourth of the grant was to be held in perpetuity revenue free. 
On the remaining three-fourths no revenue was to be assessed for the 
first five years if the land was under grass, ten years if under reeds 
and high grass, and twenty 3^ears if under forest ; at the expiry of 
this term, revenue was to be assessed at 9 annas per acre for the 
next three years, after which the rate was to be for twenty-two 
years Ee. 1-2 an acre. At the close of this period (the thirtieth 
year in the case of grants of grass lands, thirty-fifth in the case of 
reed lands, and forty-fifth in the case of forest lands), the three- 
fourths liable to assessment were to be assessed, at the option of 
the grantee, either at the market value of one-fourth of the 
produce of the land, or at the average rate of revenue paid by 
rice lands in the district where the grant was situated ; the revenue 
was thereafter to be adjusted in the same manner at the end of 
every term of twenty-one years. 

Very few grants under these rules still exist. There are now 
only two in Kamriip and sixteen in Sibsagar, with a total area of 
5,533 acres. 

II. The next rules were those for leasehold grants of the 23rd 
October 1854, commonly called the Old Assam Eules. Under 
these rules, no grant was to be less than 500 acres in extent 
(afterwards reduced to 200 acres, or even 100 acres in special 
cases). One-fourth of the grant was exempted from assessment in 
perpetuity, and the remaining three-fourths were granted revenue- 
free for fifteen years, to be assessed thereafter at 3 annas an acre 
for ten years, and at G annas an acre for seventy-four years more, 
making a whole term of ninety-nine years ; after which the grant 
Was to be subject to resurvey and settlement " at such moderate 


assessment as might seem proper to tlie Government of the day Sk ctiqn 2. 
the proprietary right remaining with the grantee's representatives W^^^^ Land 
under the conditions generally ajDplicable to the owners of the 
estates not permanently-settled." One-eighth of the grant was to be 
cleared and rendered fit for cultivation in five years, one-fourth 
in ten years, one-half in twenty years, and three-fourths by the 
expiration of the tiiirtieth year ; and the entire grant was declared 
to be liable to resumption in case of the non-fulfilment of these 
^conditions. The grants were transferable, subject to registration of 
transfer in the Deputy Commissioner's office. These rules were 
extended to Sylhet and Cachar in 1856, and were in force until 
1861, when they were superseded by rules for grants in fee-simple, 
which at the same time allowed holders of leasehold grants under 
the prior rules to redeem their revenue payments, on condition 
that the stipulated area had been duly cleared, at twenty years' 
purchase of the revenue at the time payable. This permission is still 
in force, and has been largely taken advantage of. Two hundred and 
seventy-one grants, with an area of 238,206 acres, have thus been 
redeemed, and 36 grants, with an area of 35,451 acres (most of 
which are in Cachar), remain upon the original terms. 

III. To these succeeded a new policy, that of disposing of land 
in fee-simple. The first fee-simple rules were those issued by Lord 
Canning in October 1861. The Secretary of State took objection 
to some of their provisions, and a fresh set of rules was issued on 
the 30th August 1862. The rules issued by Lord Canning provided 
for the disposal of the land to the applicant at fixed rates, rangincp 
•from Es. 2-8 to Es. 5 per acre. The rules of August 1862 
provided that the lot should be put up to auction. Grants were 
to be limited, except under special circumstances, to an area of 
3,000 acres. In each case the grant was ordinarily to be compact, 
including no more than one tract of land in a ring fence. The upset 
price was to be not less than Es. 2-8 an acre, and in exceptional 
localities it might be as high as Rs. 10. Provision was made for 
the survey of lands previous to sale, and for the demarcation of 
proper boundaries where applicants for unsurveyed lands were 
for special reasons, put in possession prior to survey, and also for 


jyo assa:m administratiox report. [Chap. IV. 

Section 2. ^]^q protection of proprietary or occupancy rights in the kinds 
Waste land apphed for. The purcliase-mone}^ was to he paid either at once or 
by instahnents. In the latter case, a portion of the purchase-money, 
not less than 10 per cent., was to be paid at the time of sale, and 
the balance within ten years of that date, with interest at 10 per 
cent, per annum on the portion remaining unpaid. Default of 
payment of interest or purchase-money rendered the grant liable 
to re-sale. 

These rules were in force till August 1872, when the Lieutenant 
Governor of Bengal stopped further grants under them, pending 
revision of the rules. 

IV. Eevised fee-simple rules were issued in February 1874 
just before the constitution of the province as a separate Adminis- 
tration, which raised the upset price of land sold to Es. 8 per acre, 
and made more careful provision for accurate identification of the 
land, and for consideration of existing rights and claims, before its 
disposal. These rules continued in force till April 1876. 

There now exist in the province 319 fee-simple grants (exclud- 
ing redeemed leasehold grants already mentioned), covering an 
area of 192,734 acres. 

V. The existing special rules under which applications for waste 
land for the cultivation of tea, coffee, or timber trees are dealt with, 
were originally issued in April 1876, and were revised and re-issued 
under sections 12 and 29 of the Land and Kevenue Eegulation in 
1887. The land is leased (for thirty years) at progressive rates, 
and the lease is put up for auction sale, but only among applicants 
prior to its advertisement in the Gazette^ at an upset price of Ee. 1 
per acre, under the provisions of Act XXIII of 1SG3. The 
progressive rates are as follows : 

For the first two years ... ... revenue free. 

„ next four „ ... ... 3 annas an acre. 

» » four „ ... ... 6 „ „ 

„ „ ten „ ... ... o „ „ 

„ „ ten „ ... ... 1 rupee „ 

After the expiration of the last mentioned term, the land is to 
be assessed under the laws in force, " provided that no portion of 


the said land shall at an}^ time be assessed at a rate higher than Section a. 
that then pa3^able on the most highly-assessed lands in the said Wasteland 
district, cultiva.ed with rice, pulses, or other ordinary agricul- ««"^«*- 
tural produce," The grantee is required to pay the revenue 
punctually on the due date ; to devote the land only to the 
special crops for cultivating which it is granted ; to personally 
reside in the district, or have an agent residing there ; to 
erect, and maintain in repair, proper boundary marks ; not 
voluntarily to alienate any portion of the land, unless the estate is 
transferred as a whole ; and to give notice to the Deputy Commis- 
sioner of all such transfers. On breach of any of these conditions, 
the concession of the favourable rates of assessment on which the 
land is held is liable to be withdrawn, and the estate is liable to be 
assessed at the ordinary district rates. There were altogether, at 
the end of 1892-93, 645 estates, covering 244,011 acres, held on 
this tenure in Assam. 

Mention should here be made of a special tenure, compounded 
of the lease under the rules of April 1876 and the terms on which 
ildm land is held in the district, on which certain tea planters have 
been allowed to hold land for tea in South Sylhet. When the ildm 
resettlement was in progress in this district, it was found that several 
planters had recently acquired considerable areas of waste land 
held under ikbn pattas. One of the rules of the ildm settlement was 
that waste land within the boundaries of the ijatta which exceeded 
the proportion of one-fifth of the cultivated area should be cut off 
and resumed by Government. But it was precisely in order to 
obtain this waste land that tea planters had acquired the ildm 
pattas. A compromise was, therefore, made in 1879. The. land 
already under tea was assessed at Re. 1-8 per acre ; of the waste, 
an area equal to one-fifth of the cultivated area was allowed at 8 
annas an acre ; and the rest was permitted to be held on the terms 
and at the rates specified in the waste land rules of 1876. There 
are 61 such estates in Sylhet, with an area of 2G,317 acres. 

From the above summ-ary it will be seen that from 1838 to 
1861 the principle on which waste lands were granted for tea 
cultivation was that they should be held on a leasehold tenure for 


Se ction 3. \ong terms at low rates of assessment, the cultivation of the land 
■System of heiug secured by stringent conditions as to clearance; from 1S61 

Survey and -in-z^i t t tic p t 

Settlement, to lb<D the policj was to alienate land tree ol revenue demand, 
and without any clearance conditions ; while from 1876 to date 
the principle of leases has again been reverted to, but this time 
without any special stipnlations as to the area to be brought under 
cultivation within the term of lease. The total area held on these 
special terms for tea cultivation in the province is no less than 
992,598 acres, or 1,550*93 square miles. 


187. The nature of the raiyatwdri tenure in the Assam Valley 

has already been described. Estates held 
Settlements in Assam ^^^ annual lease are resettled every year. 

Proper. -^ '' ' 

while the ten-year settlements undergo no 
alteration during the length of their term, save such as may be 
caused by the raiyat's relinquishing some fields of his holding, and 
such relinquishments are naturally less common in decennially- 
settled lands, where the nature of the cultivation affords some 
guarantee of permanence, than in those tracts where the system of 
annual settlements continues to prevail. In either case settlement 
is preceded by measurement, which, like the assessment, is effected 
by the tahsildar or mauzadar with the help of his subordinate 
officials, called mandals. The position and duties of these officers 
have already been prescribed {ante., paragraph 109). A mauza is, 
as already explained, a defined revenue circle averaging 11 "589 
square miles (though the area varies exceedingly in different parts 
of the same district), while a mandal's charge averages nearly 20 
square miles of gross area. These figures include unoccupied waste, 
of which most parts of the valley contain an enormous extent, 
and waste land grants, with which a mauzadar has nothing to do. 
Excluding these, the average assessed area under a mauzadar is 
about 7,023 acres, and that in charge of a mandal about 1,986 acres. 

188. The old system of making these measurements was by 

measuring up the four sides of the field with 
a 30 -foot chain and multiplying together the 


mean lens^tli and breadth tlius ascertained. The result of this Section 3. 
method was usually to give areas in excess of the reality, but this System of 
tendency was more than compensated by the omission to measure settUment. 
up the gradual extensions of cultivation which take place on the 
edges of waste. This system is still followed in tracts which have 
not yet come under survey ; but whenever the land has been 
cadastrally surveyed, its place has been taken by a regular survey. 
All new fields are connected with permanent points (prisms, theo- 
dolite stations, and the like), and are carefully plotted on the 
village map, old and permanent cultivation being distinguished 
from lands newly taken up by the use of different coloured lines. 
In all cases alike the area is recorded in terms of bighas, kdthas, ^ 
B,ndilessas, a biglta (14,400 square feet) being equivalent to 5 kdthas 
and 20 lessas. The registers in which the results of the measure- 
ments are recorded are two in number, — a field register or jamd- 
bandi, and a dag chit ha or revenue roll. The former shows the 
number borne by each field in the mandal's circle, the raiyat's name, 
the area and the class of soil ; in non-cadastral tracts the bounda- 
ries and dimensions are also entered. The jamdbandi is a record 
of the fields constituting each raiyat's holdings, their area, soil class, 
and assessment. Separate dag chithas and jamdbandis are main- 
tained for lands held on annual and lands held on decennial leases. 
These measurements are made, and registers kept, by the mandals, 
who answer to the pdtwdris of other parts of India, and of whom 
there are usually three or four in a mauza. 

189. In the five upper districts of the Brahmaputra Valley, the 
soil is divided into three main classes,— bastL 
rupit, R.nd.fai'ingdti. The first mentioned is the 
land on which the raiyat's house stands, with the garden enclosure 
around it ; rupit land is that on which the winter crop of trans- 
planted rice (sail) is grown, as well as the low swampy lands 
devoted to the cultivation of bao ; the term Jaringdti denotes the 
higher and lighter soils which produce dhu or summer rice, sugar- 
cane, mustard, oil- seeds, and other crops. 

Until the present year, no attempt had ever been made to proceed 
further in the direction of classification. Advantage has now been 





Es. a. 

Rs. a. 

1 8 

1 4 per biff ha. 


12 „ 




Section 3. taken of the expiry of the decennial leases to revise the assessment ; 
System of and, while securing to Government its fair share of the increased 

SettUment. ^^^^^"^^ of the produce, to introduce a more equitable system of clas- 
sification. The main classes of soil already mentioned have each 
been divided into three sub-classes, the revenue payable on each 
being" as follows : 


Rs. n. 
Ba8ti ... ... 2 

Rnpit -.. ... 14 

Farinffdti ... ... 10 

The considerations taken into account in classifying land into 
these sub-classes are the demand for land as shown by the density 
of population and the proportion of settled to total area, etc., the 
productiveness of the soil, and the facilities for disposing of the 
crops-. Special rates have been sanctioned for lands held by tea 
planters, and also for lands newly taken up. 

In the Eastern Duurs no attempt has yet been made to go 
beyond the old three-fold classification of biist', jiipit, mid fa ri)2gdti. 
The rates current in that tract are basti and rupit 8 annas and 
Jariiigati 4 annas per higha. 

190. The settlement year begins on the 1st April, and the 

tahsildar or mauzadar is responsible for see- 
Settlement statement. . ,,,.,, , -r^ 

mg that all his books are sent to the Deputy 

Commissioner (or in subdivisions to the subdi visional officer) on 
the date fixed by them (usually about July). The accuracy of the 
assessments is checked in the Deputy Commissioner's office, and a 
settlement statement is then prepared and submitted to the Com- 
missioner for conhrmation. Each raiyat or occupier of the land 
receives a patta for his holding, and executes a kabuliyat in 
exchange, binding himself to pay the Grovernment revenue. The 
pattas are issued under the signature of the Deputy Commissioner, 
or subdivisional officer, or, in the case of tahsils, the tahsildar. 

The settlement above described is called the main or regular 
settlement of the year, and includes all lands taken up for cul- 
tivation in the first half of the year to which it relates. A 


supplementary settlement, however, is needed, in order to assess Section- 3. 
the lands which are broken up for oil-seeds and pulses in Septem- System of 
ber and October, when the floods subside. The measurements for slttUnient. 
this purpose are conducted during the winter months ; the papers 
of the dariabadi or supplementary settlement are filed before the 
close of the financial year ; and the settlements are reported to the 
Commissioner for confirmation in the same manner as the main 
settlements concluded in the July preceding. In the following- 
year these dariabadi lands come into the main settlement. 

The revenue is paid in two instalments of three-fifths in 
November and two-fifths in February ; but dariabadi lands, beino- 
settled too late for the November instalment, pay the whole year's 
revenue in a lump sum in February.* 

191. In paragraph 188 reference has been made to the cadas- 
tral survey. Prior to 1883, maps showing 

Cadastral suivey. ,-, ^r r • i -n ti , • ^ 

the cultivation m each village did not exist, 
and the only record of the fields occupied by the raiyats was that 
contained in the mandal's dag chillia and jauidbandi. It was then 
decided, wherever practicable, to replace this inaccurate system by 
the exact record of a regular survey, and with this object operations 
were commenced by a professional survey party in November 
1883. During the cold weather of 1883-84, 228 square miles were 
cadastrally surveyed in Kamrup, and between that year and 1890- 
91 the whole of the more permanent and densely cultivated tracts 
in the five upper districts of the valley (consisting in all of 4^460 
square miles) were brought under survey. As the survey 
progressed, steps were taken to ensure the proper maintenance of 
the maps and other records by increasing the number of Sub- 
Deputy Collectors (there is now one of these officers in each sub- 
division), who are held directly responsible for all survey and 
settlement operations by appointing a new class of officers known as 
supervisor kdnungos, whose duty it is to be constantly on the move» 
checking the work done by the mandals and training those whose 
knowledge is deficient ; and, lastly, by improving the status of the 

* In certain maiizay, where tlie cultivation of mustard is considerable, the whole 
revenue is paid in one instalment, on the 15ih February. 



[Chap. IV. 

SECTION'S- mandals themselves. Formerly, the latter were all paid at a 
Sylt^iof tuiiform rate of Rs. 6 per month ; now they are divided into three 
%memni grades drawing Es. 12, Ks. 9 and Rs. 6 respectively, and promotion 
to the higher grades is made directly dependent on their quali- 
fications as surveyors. 

The principal statistics connected with the cadastral survey 
are set forth in the following statement : 




I'ercentage of 












Locality suiveyod. 



C 0) 


•^ P. 

ce g 
= 8 


c '3 












H " 





Sq. miles. 


Rs. a. 



1883-84 .. 

Nine mauzas in Kamrilp 



497 15 






85' .. 

Twenty-one ditto 



336 14 






86 .. 

Twenty-two ditto 



278 7 






87 .. 

Thirty-six mauzas in Mangaldni . . 



279 15 






88 .. 

Twenty-five ditto in Nowgong . . 



243 12 





89 .. 

Thirty-two manzas in Sibsagar .. 



225 11 






-90 .. 

Thirty two ditto 








1890-91 .. 

Twenty-four mauzas in KiVmriip 
and r.owgon-' and two mauzas 
(in part) in Darrang (.^ince trans- 
ferred to Nowgong; .. 








The main features brought out by this statement are the 
annually decreasing cost of survey operations and the large 
variations from year to year in the increase of revenue resulting 
therefrom. Taken as a whole, the survey has produced a total 
increase of revenue amounting to Rs. 1,74,301, which represents 
7-94 per cent, on the original revenue and 15' 6 7 per cent, on 
the cost of the operations. It must, however, be remembered that 

* Calculated both on the Ichirui and the ninf-hhirdj areas. 

+ Calculated on /c//ira/ area only, as the mauzadars' figures for nisf-khirdj area are 
not avaiUilile, and therefore the increase thereon cannot be ascertained. 

+ In calculating the increase, the area of live mauzas of Kainni]) (Barpeta) and one 
tnauza of Nowgong have been excluded, as the niauzadars' figures for these areas 
xe not available. 


these fiizures do not take into account tlie normal increase in Section 3. 
revenue that would in any case have taken place, nor the fact that Syste?n of 
revised definitions of basti and rupit land, which were issued while slulem&rit. 
the survey was in progress, would in any case have produced a 
considerable ccain under the head of reclassification ; neither do 
they allow for the increased cost of survey and settlement opera- 
tions due to the necessity of maintaining the more elaborate system 
which the survey has inaugurated. But, even after making allow- 
ance for all this, it must be conceded that the operations have 
proved a fair financial success ; and it must, moreover, be borne 
in mind that the more powerful supervising staff now placed at the 
disposal of district officers, together with the increased facilities for 
checking afforded by the survey maps, will be of permanent 
benefit to the revenue by making it almost impossible for concealed 
cultivation to exist in the area over which the survey has extended. 

The work of the professional party has now come to an end, 
as no tracts remain of sufficient extent and cultivation to render 
it profitable to carry out their survey through this expensive 
agency. Bat it has been the steady policy of Government 
throughout the course of the survey to employ as many mandals 
as possible as amins, and thereby to secure a trained staff in every 
district ; and it is now intended to utilise the services of these men 
for the gradual extension of the surveyed area wherever there is 
sufficient cultivation to render this course desirable. Small areas 
will be selected annually in each district for survey by trained 
mandals from adjacent mauzas, under the supervision of the Sub- 
Deputy Collector and the supervisor kdnungo of the circle ; and by 
these means, in course of time, the whole of the cultivated area in 
the Brahmaputra Valley will be brought under cadastral survey.* 

192. In Sylhet the temporarily-settled portions, as already 
g ,, explained, consist of the Jaintia parganas and 

the ildm and other miscellaneous mahdls not 
included in the permanent settlement. 

* The practicability of this scheme has been proved by an experimental survey at 
Barpeta, where 111 square miles were surveyed by the ordinary revenue s'aff al a total 
cost of Rs. 50-45 per square mile. 

2 A 


Section- 3. 193. The history of the Jaintia settlement has already been 
System of ^. . i)artlv i>-iven. In l-SoS-lO a cadastral or 

Suy-npv n'n,1 Settlement in Jaiiitia. ^ ^ ^ 

Settlement- proiessional kliasra survey was made or these 

parganas, and the maps of this survey formed the basis, with 
additional surveys by amins where fresh land had beea taken up, 
of the resettlement made in 1856. At this settlement, the rates of 
assessment were determined on local enquiry by the Settlement 
Officer and his subordinates, according to the nature of the soil 
and its capabilities. The rates varied from 2 annas 6 pie to 
Re. 1-0-3 per acre ; but these rates were pitched extremely low in 
consequence of the successful opposition of the cultivators to the 
imposition of any higher assessment. 

This settlement expired in 1876 ; but, owing to errors commit- 
ted in the classification and assessment of the land, the new settle- 
ment was not finalh'' completed until 1882. A survey and re- 
assessment are now beinsf carried out with a view to the introduc- 
tion of a new settlement for ten years from the 1st April 1892. 
For this purpose, land is divided into four main classes, — (1) 
homestead, (2) cultivation, (3) fallow, and (4) waste. The seven- 
teen parganas, covering an area of 459 square miles, are further 
divided into homogeneous net profit tracts, after taking into consi- 
deration the productiveness of the soil, cost of cultivation, proximity 
to markets, liability to ravages by wild beasts, &c. In each of 
these tracts the four main classes of land are subdivi led into four 
sub-classes, called first, second, third, and fourth class homestead, 
cultivation, &c. Differential rates are fixed for these sub-classes 
in each homogeneous circle, the ultimate result for all the parganas 
taken together being that homestead land bears six diflerent rates 
of assessment, varying from 10 annas to 3 annas 9 pie per higha ; 
cultivation (seven rates), varying from 7 annas to 2 annas 7^ 
pie; fallow (seven rates), varying from 2 annas to 9 pie ; and 
jungle (eight rates), varying from 1 anna to 44 pie per higha. 

194. Ihe resettlement of ildm and other miscellaneous tem- 
poraril3'-settled estates in Svlhet has been 

7Z(im and niiscfllaneons . " , . -, otfr. i 

tcniporaiily-sottled oh- Conducted Under rules sanctioned m lb7o by 
^^^^^' the Govermnent of India. Before settlement, 


the lands were measured with chahi and compass by native Sections. 
amins, a plan of the estate on the scale of IG inches to the System of 

' -t _ _ iiHrvey and 

mile was prepared, and the area was calculated in both bighas and Settlement. 
acres. These measurements were tested by the Settlement Deputy 
Collector. The rates of assessment have not been scientifically 
determined with reference to the advantages of situation or 
productivity of the soil, but were fixed in each case by the Settle- 
ment Officer (himself a zeminddr of the district) with regard to the 
rates paid by cultivators for similar lands in the neighbourhood. 
From these rates, a deduction of 15 per cent, was made to cover 
cost of collection and risks, and the remainder was fixed as the 
assessment of the mahdls. The resultant assessment is considerably 
in excess of the former revenue derived from these mahdls, but is 
not, so far as can be judged, in itself burdensome, being considerably 
lower in its incidence than the revenue rates, which are found to be 
paid with ease in the more backward and less civilised districts of 
the Assam Valley. These settlements will all expire in 1907 A.D. 
195. The last settlement of the Pratabgarh tahsil was effected 
in 1881-83, the previous one having broken 

Pratabgarh tahsil. ^ ^ • t n ^ 

down, owing to the rates havmg been lixed 
at too hiixh a fif^ure. At this settlement, the land was divided into 
four classes (homestead, dqfasal, ekfasal, and chetia), the rates 
varying from Ee. 1 to 7 annas per acre. This settlement expired 
in 1887, since which time it has been extended from year to year, 
pending a fresh survey which is now at last approaching comple- 
tion. For the purposes of this settlement, the land has been divided 
into ten classes, some of which are again divided into first and second 
sub-classes, according to the productiveness of the soil. The rates 
per bigha* which have been proposed vary from 3 annas to Re. 1-2-0. 
198. The first regular settlement of Cachar was made in 1 838- 
39 for a term of five years, and was based 
on a somewhat imperfect survey. In 1841-42 
the district was surveyed on the same plan as the adjacent Jain^ia 
parganas. The cultivated land in the several mauzas was survey- 
ed field by field, and so much of the uncultivated area as seemed 
likely to come under cultivation was also surveyed and divided 

* 3-025 highas = 1 acre. 



Section- 3. into numbered dihjs or plots, the intention being that, as cultivation 
Syite/n of extended, these plots should afford the means of determining its 
Seuhnient ^^^^ ^^^ ^ basis for a detailed map of its area. In 18-43-44 a re- 
settlement, based upon this survej^, was made for fifteen years. 
Then followed the settlement of 1859, made for twenty years, which 
expired in 1879. This also was based on the survey of 1841-42, 
the fresh cultivation vsince that was made being measured up by 
native amins. The land was divided into two classes, called awwal 
and duam respectively ; and within these classes it was ranged, 
according to situation, distance from navigable rivers, and exposure 
to the ravages of wild beasts, in four grades. The local measure of 
land in Cacliar is the hdl, or plough (also called by the Arabic 
name hidbah), which is equal to 4*82 acres ; and the rates imposed 
varied from Es. 3-8 to Es. 3-0 for first-grade land to Ks. 2 to 
Ee. 1-8 for fourth grade. Waste land producing thatching-grass 
and reeds, -which are valuable products in the densely-peopled 
Surma Valley, was settled at the full rates of revenue charged 
for cultivated land in the neighbourhood. Forest jungle, which 
required much clearing, was settled for three 3'ears revenue-free, 
and then at a progressive jama, rising to the full rates charged for 
adjacent lands at the end of the term, twenty years. 

197- On the expiry of this settlement, a fresh survey was made, 

and a settlement was effected for fifteen years, 

years in 1879-84!^ ^^^ whicli extends up to 31st Marcli 1898. For 

the purpose of this settlement the three 
fiscal divisions, known as the Katigora tahsil, the Ilaihikandi tahsil, 
and the sadr tahsil, were dealt with separately. In each tahsil the 
soil was divided into four classes, viz.^ homestead, cultivation, tea, 
and waste, and each class was again subdivided into four circles, 
the constitution of the circles being based on a consideration of the 
productiveness of the soil, the facility or otherwise of communica- 
tion, the liability to inundation, the exposure to the ravages of wild 
animals, and the proximity to dense forests. 

The rates fixed at this assessment vary from Es. 8-4 to Es. 4-12 
per hcH for homestead land, from Es. 7-2 to Es. 3-12 for cultivation, 
and from Es. 7-2 to Es. 6-0 for tea. Waste was assessed at a 
uniform rate of Ee. 1 per hul. 





Civil Divisions of Britisli Territory. 

198. The province of Assam is divided, for administrative pur- ex- 
poses, into twelve districts, viz., the six dis- ^^^^^^°^^- 
di^4sTc^'s^^ adininistrative ^ricts of the Brahmaputra Valley, the two 

districts of the Surma Valley, and the four hill 
districts. These districts, their administrative headquarters, the 
subdivisions into which tlie}^ are divided, their area, and their popu- 
lation according to the census of February 1891, are shown below: 

Name of district. 



Area, m 
square lailes. 


Surma Valley — 

Silchar .. .. | 


Sylhet . . . . < 




Dhubri . . . . | 
Gauhati . . . . j 



North Sylhet . . 
Karimganj . . . . 
South Sylhet . . 


















Total Snrma Valley 



Brahmaputra Valley — 













Chap. V. 


Name of district. 



Area m 
squai'e miles. 



Te/.pur . . .A 

Sibsigar . . . • < 

Dibrugarh . . j 


Sliillong.. ..| 

Kohima .. 

Gnnjong .. 







North Lakhimpur 




Mokokchang . . 

Total ... 















Lathimpur . . 






Total Brahmaputra Valley 



mil Districts— 
Giro Hills .. 



Khisi and Jaintia Hills.. 





Ndga Hills .. 






North Cachart 



North Lushai Hillst 


■1 3,631 

Total Hill districts 



Grand total .. 



* Including Saliya. 

+ North Cachar is really a subdivision of Cacliar, but is here shown as a separate district for the reasons 
Stated in the foot-n')to to paragraph 1. 

t The area and population shown against " North Luthai Hills" arc only estimates. 


At each headquarters station there is a Deputy Commissioner '^'^'ii' 
and at each subdivisional station other than that of the head- 
quarters subdivision an Assistant or Extra Assistant Commissioner, 
or, in one or two cases, a j^ohce officer. 

The six districts of the Brahmaputra Valley constitute the 
charge of the Commissioner of the Assam Valley Districts, whose 
headquarters are at Gaulniti. 

199. In the eight plains districts and the Khc4si and Jaintia 
T3 ,. ,. . . Hills the area is further subdivided into 

rulice divisions. 

tlianas, or jurisdictions of poUce stations. 
There are 46 thana areas in these districts. Some of the larc^er 
thanas are again divided into outposts, of which there are 58 in 
the province. These areas, though they originally define police 
jurisdiction, are convenient for other purposes : thus, the jurisdic- 
tion of the munsifs in Sylhet is arranged by thanas ; the registra- 
tion sub-districts are similarly arranged; Muhammadan Marriai?e 
Eegistrars and Kazis in the Surma Valley are also appointed for 
thana and outpost areas. 

200. In Assam Proper and the Eastern Duars the district is 

, . . portioned out for revenue purposes into 

Revenue divisions. 

mauzas. The average area of these mauzas 
is 115-89 square miles. They thus correspond in size rather to the 
pargana or tappa than to the mauza of Upper India. In Assam there 
is little cohesion in the village society, and almost nothing which 
represents the complex social organization of the North-Western 
Provinces or the Punjab. Hamlets of a few houses are scattered 
about the whole mauza area ; and though the boundaries of the 
lands recognised as belonfyini:^ to a particular villao-e are in some 
districts {e.g., parts of Kamriip) known to the people, they do not 
imply any definite appropriation of the soil to that village ; an3^one 
applying for it can settle upon Government waste wherever it is 

Formerly, each of these mauzas was under a mauzadar or reve- 
nue contractor (see paragraph 109 ante) ; but since 1882 the 
tahsildari system has been partially introduced into Kamriip, 
Darrang, Nowgong, and Sibsagar, each tnhsil being under a tahsil- 

1 84 



dar paid bv salary and not by commission, and consisting of a 
collection of from three to eleven of the old mauzas. This system 
is still being extended as opportunity occurs, and the entire dis- 
appearance of the old mauzadari system is now only a matter of 
time. The following statement shows the extent to which mauzas 
have already been amalgamated into tahsils : 






Already included in tahsils. 

Xot inclnded in tahsils. 































648,902 4 



Darrang . . 










Nowgong .. 










Sibsagar . . 










In Sylhet and the plains of Cacliar, as well as in permanently- 
settled Goalpdra, the ordinary revenue division into parganas, 
which dates from times prior to British rule, is in force. In the 
two former districts, however, these parganas are very small, and 
much interlaced one with another. In Sylhet, there are 186 par- 
ganas, so that their average area is less than 29 square miles ; 15 
are less than one square mile, and 42 are more than one and less 
than two square miles. In the plains of Cachar there are 24 and 
in Goalpara 19 parganas, the last representing separately-settled 
estates of the permanent settlement. 

These parganas are grouped, in Sylhet and Caohar, into larger 
areas for the purposes of revenue payment. In Sylhet these areas 
are called zilas, of which there are ten, besides the Jaintia parganas, 
which latter are divided into two tahsils or collection areas. The 
zilas are made up of parganas, and the revenue is paid at each 
subdivisional headquarters for the zilas included in its jurisdiction. 
In the Jaintia parganas there are two collecting centres, one at 
Kauairghat, and the other at Sylhet, In Cachar, the plains portion 


of the* district is divided into three tahsils, the offices of which are Civil 

... Divisions. 

located at Silchar, Haihikaiidi, and Katigora. 

In the hiU districts different divisions for revenue purposes 
prevail. In the Garo Hills, the strip of plains land which surrounds 
the hill area on three sides is managed by two mauzadars, who, 
however, are not contractors, as in Assam, but officers on a fixed 
salary. The hill area is also portioned out into five mauzas ; but 
the mauzadar here is merely the superior officer who receives the 
house tax from the lashkars, or Garo headmen of groups of villages. 
These a^ain collect from the lakma or nokma, the head and 
representative of each village. 

In the Khasi Hills, as already mentioned, there is not much 
British territory, the area being generally included in the States of 
the Khasi Seims, Sardars, Longdohs, or other petty chiefs. Only 
25 villages, or groups of villages, are British, and these pay house 
tax through a villacfe headman. In the Jaintia Hills there are 19 
circles of villages, each of which is managed by a dolloi or head- 
man, who collects the house tax and pays it in, receiving com- 
mission. There are, besides, four Sardarships, the management of 
which is hereditary, the headmen being Kuki or Mikir chiefs. 

In North Cachar, the assessment and collection of house tax 
were formerly carried out by a special tahsil establishment, but 
this has been replaced since 1884 by mauzadars, who are remu- 
nerated by a commission of ten per cent., and occupy much the 
same position .as the mauzadar in the Brahmaputra Valley. 

In the Naga Hills, part of the district is in charge of mauzadars 
(the Mikir and Eengma Hills and the land revenue paying villages 
in the Nambar forest), and in part (the Angami, Rengma, Sema, 
Lhota, Ao, and Kacha ISTaga villages on the main range) the house 
tax is collected by village headmen, called lamhdrdars, who receive 
a commission varying from 12^ to 20 per cent. 

2 B 


Details of the last Census {1891). 

Census. 201. The last census of Assam was taken on the 26th February 

1891 in all those portions of the province in 

Manner of taking the ^^^^.^-^^ .^. ^^.^^ synchronous, that is tO Say, 
census. ./ ' •' ' 

throughout the plains and in some parts of 
the hill districts. In the greater portion of the latter a more 
gradual enumeration was carried out, but the total number of 
persons included in the non-synchronous returns amounted only 
to about 400,000, or less than 8 per cent, of the total population. 
A census was taken of Manipur, but all papers connected therewith 
were destroyed in the disturbances which took place in the 
following March, and no statistics are, therefore, available for that 
State. In the North Lushai Hills the Civil and Military popula- 
tion was censused on the 26th February, while, for the Lushais; 
an estimate of the population was prepared by the Political Officer, 
based on enquiries made by him during his tours. The figures 
furnished for the last mentioned tract are, of course, only approxi- 
mate, but it is believed that they are very fairly accurate. The 
report and tables were issued in June 1892, or about fifteen 
months after the census was taken. A brief summary of some of 
the more important results is given below. 

202. As stated in the last chapter, the area of the province 
is about 49,004 square miles, and the popu- 

Area and dcnsitj". 

lation 5,476,833, or on the average 111 
persons per square mile, which is less than in any other part 
of India, except only .in Burma and Coorg. The details of the 

Chap, VI.] 



population in each district are shown in the following state- Census. 
ment : 











i. . 



a i 




3 => 

Cacliar (plains) 






Sylhet ... ... ... 












Kdmriip ... 






Darrang ... 












Sibsagar ... 












North Cachar 






Kaga Hills 






Khasi and Jaintia Hills 






Garo Hills 






North Lushai 


r 2,0440^ 

i 41,590t] 










<* Civil and Military. 

t Estimated. 


Census. The KliAsi and Jaiiitia and the Niiga Hills districts stand first 

in respect of area ; but they consist, to a large extent, of rocky 
and unculturable uplands, and their population is consequently 
sparse. Their combined area is double that of Yorkshire, but 
they contain only about one-ninth of the population of tliat 
county. The next largest district is Sylhet, which contains very 
nearly two-fifths of the total population of the province. AYitli 
the exception of a large belt of jungle at the foot of the hills 
along the southern boundary and of a smaller similar tract towards 
the north, the whole of the district is very densely peopled. It is 
equal in area to Durham, Cumberland, Northumberland, and West- 
moreland ; its population is larger by 33 per cent, than that 
of these four counties taken together. The next district, Goalpdra, 
is about the size of North Wales, and is equally densely peopled. 
Lakhimpur comes next in size, and then Kdmryp, with an area 
equal to that of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, but only 
about 70 per cent, of the combined population of these counties. 
The smallest district in the province is North Cachar, which is 
somewhat larger than Somersetshire, but has less than 4 per cent, 
of its population.* As a general rule, it may be said that the 
density of the population is greatest in the west, and decreases 
gradually towards the east, the main reason for this result 
ajDparently being that in the days of native rule the eastern districts 
suffered more from wars and a disturbed frontier than those further 

203. For census purposes a house was defined to be " the 
homestead where the members of one family 

Ilouses and house room. ^ ^ ^ 

reside under a common head with their 
servants," That the definition Avas well understood is shown by 
the great uniformity in the average number of persons per house 
returned in the difTerent districts. With the exception of the 
Naga Hills and Goalpdra, the average in all districts lies between 

• North Cachar is adniiiiiKtratively a subdivision of the Cachar dis-trict, hut, OM'ing 
to the wide physical and ethnological differences between it and the plains portion of 
Cachar, it was treated as a separate district for the purposes of the census. 


5-0 in Kdmriip, Sylhet, ard three out of the four hill districts, Census. 
and 5 "3 in Nowgong, where the figures are higher than they 
otherwise would be, owing to the great number of Mikirs living 
in the district, amongst whom it is customary for large groups 
of relatives to reside tosjether under a common roof. The mate- 
rials of which houses are constructed in Assam are extremely 
plentiful, and can be got everywhere at a very trifling cost ; in fact, 
in most parts they cost nothing more than the labour involved 
in cutting them and bringing them to the homestead. So far, 
therefore, as their houses are concerned, the condition of the 
people is one of great comfort, and overcrowding is practically 

204. The number of males exceeds that of females in every 
district except the Khdsi and Jaintia Hills 

Proportions 01 the sexes. ^ 

and North Cachar, which are peopled mainly 
by aboriginal tribes. In the Ndga Hills and the Garo Hills districts 
the preponderance of males is very slight, and is due entirely to 
the Hindu and Musalman population. In the province generally, 
not only does the number of males exceed that of females, but 
this excess is more marked now than it was in 1881, males havino- 
increased by 316,000, or 12-62 per cent., and females by 279,407, 
or 11*75 per cent. The explanation of these figures will be found 
in the fact that amongst the immigrant population males largely 
outnumber females. In 1881 there was a foreign-born population 
of 280,609, viz., males 163,664, and females 116,945. The total 
foreign-born population now numbers 510,672, including 297,301 
males and 213,371 females, that is to say, the excess of immigrant 
males over females is greater by 37,211 than it was in 1881. 
Excluding immigrants, 50-79 out of every 100 persons are males 
and 49-21 are females. 



[Chap. VI. 


205. The statement below displays some of tlie most prominent 
facts regarding the distribution of the popu- 
lation over towns and villag^es : 

Towns and villages. 

Cachar (plains) 







Lathimpur .. 

Korth Cachar .. 

Kiiga Hills .. 

Khdsi and Jaiiitia Hills 

GAro Hills .. 

Nortli Lnsbai Hills 








4,011 1-3 
















1,116 303,750 























































The urban population is extremely small, being only TS per Census. 
cent, of the total population of the province. The corresponding 
percentage in Bengal amounts to 5"3, in Bombay to 17'8, and in 
England and Wales to 66"6. The reasons for the absence of 
large towns in x^ssam are that the country is still very sparsely 
populated ; there are no large industries to encourage the growth 
of towns, and the main occupation of the great bulk of the people 
is- agriculture. The figures regarding the number of villages are 
of very little statistical value, as the definition adopted for census 
purposes in the diflerent districts was far from uniform. In the 
cadastrally-surveyed portions of the Brahmaputra Valley and 
Cachar, the area which formed the revenue survey village was 
taken as a " village "; elsewhere it was taken to be a group of 
houses bearing a separate name, outlying hamlets being included 
in, or excluded from, the parent village according to the require- 
ments of the work of enumeration. The total number of " villages '' 
returned is 17,160, and the average population per village is 
319. Nearly half of the population reside in villages containing 
from 200 to 499 persons, and nearly half of the remainder in 
villages containing more than 500 and less than 1,000; 13 per 
cent, of the people live in hamlets, where there are less than 
200 persons, and only 19 per cent, in places of which the 
population exceeds 1,000. 



[Chap. VI. 

Cexsus. ^ 






• f— 4 




















C3 ^ 






















































jaq^to 'tuojj 







: ^^ 



















CD 1 












c- 1 













^ 1 



Jamo uiojj 







I— 1 

: <^' 



















CO 1 










t- 1 






















* + 








t^ 1 











OS 1 







t— 1 











. 1-H 











■ + 
































: c« 


f— 4 



Jaqio nicJ^ 

















































: t-^ 




Jiaqto mo'jj 
























T— 1 






























-— . 

























































































1— t 

I— 1 


































: cq^ 




jaqjo uioaji 












r— 1 



T— t 

T— 4 




7— 1 



t— 1 






























: co^ 




Joq^o uiojj; 




















































■1— 1 






• 1— t 






























I— 1 






























r t-^ 

I— 1 

T— < 


















1— < 











: 03 


03 03 















« bo 





M S 

"5 ° 





















^2; M 




The general result of the statistics for the diflerent districts Census. 
appears to be that the population of the eastern portion of the 
province is advancing far more rapidly than that of the western 
districts. The natural increase in Cachar is more than three times 
as great as in Sylhet. In the Brahmaputra Valley, Goalpdra shows 
a considerable decrease in its natural population, and so also 
does Kdmrup, though to a less extent. The population of Darrang 
is stationary, that of Nowgong is growing at the rate of 10 per 
thousand per annum, and that of Sibsdgar at the annual rate of 
11 '5 per thousand, while in Lakhimpur the rate reaches 17 '3 per 
thousand, which is approximately the same as in Cachar, the 
eastern district of the Surma Valley. The growth of the popula- 
tion in the hill districts cannot be stated with any degree of 
accuracy. The total increase in the people of the province is 
contributed to by all districts except Kdmriip and the North Cachar 
subdivision, where there is a decrease of 10,711 and 1,179, respect- 
ively, due, in the former case, to the prevalence of hdla-azdi\ 
which also accounts for the comparatively small increase in Goal- 
pdra, and, in the latter, to the migrations of Kachdris and other 
tribes. The largest additions to the population are in Sylhet 
(185,584), Sibsdgar (87,000), Lakhimpur (74,160), and Cachar 
.plains (73,804). The largest percentage of increase is in Lakhim- 
pur (41-22), Sibsdgar (23-49), and Cachar (25-12), in all of which 
districts immigration, due to the extension of the tea industry, 
accounts for the greater part of the excess of the present figures 
over those of 1881. Excluding the Ndga Ilills, where the increase 
is mainly dne to the inclusion of the newly-formed Mokok- 
chang subdivision, the Khdsi and Jaintia Hills district furnishes 
the largest proportional increase (16*85 per cent.) amongst 
the districts in which tea is not largely cultivated. The 
population of the lower portion of the Brahmaputra Valley, 
where the land is not very favourable to tea cultivation, and 
which has, moreover, suffered considerably from kdla-azar, 
has been stationary, the nominal increase in Godlpdra and 
Mangaldai being more than counterbalanced by the decrease in 

2 c 


Census. 207. The increase in the number of immigrants from other 

provinces is remarkable. The number of 
graSon!*"^^ '°" '^" ^"^'' persous bom elsewhere is 510,672, against 

280,710 in 1881, being an increase of nearly 
82 per cent, in the course of the decade. It has been estimated 
that out of the total number of immigrants, about 424,000, or 83 
per cent., are probably persons who originally came to the province 
as garden coolies, and that of the remainder, some 61,000, or 
nearly 12 per cent., are cultivators from adjacent districts of 
Bengal. The Census Superintendent calculates that, on the aver- 
age, an annual immigration of close upon 39,000 persons must 
have taken place, in order to keep up the number of immigrants 
censused in Assam in 1881 and to produce the increase over that 
number which has been recorded at the present census. 

The loss to the province by emigration during the inter-censal 
interval has been very slight. The total number of persons born 
in Assam who were censused in other provinces in 1881 was 
41,038, and the number has now risen to 43,611, so that the 
net increase of persons born in the province, who have emigrated 
during the decade, over the number of such persons who were 
absent in 1881, but have since returned, is only 2,573. The total 
net emigration of persons born in Assam is, therefore, represented 
by this figure, |;Zi<5 the number required to keep up the 
emigrant population of 1881, which, at the assumed death-rate 
of 35 per thousand, would involve an annual exodus of 1,687 

Chap. VI.] 





r 1 




















• 1-1 

r— ( 



• r-l 



• i-H 














T-l CO 

U5 r-l 

^ ,-H I— I •<# 


u bo 



00^ o^ 

y—l iO 

OS »— 1 

,-1 r-( N 

1^ O M 









^ X 







w ■<=^ 









orth Lushai 
orth Lushai 








'i^ ;z5 



Speaking generally, it may be said that nearly 55 per cent, of 
the total population profess the Hindu religion, that 2 7 '09 are 
Muhammadans, 0'30 Christians, and 0"14 Buddhists, while 17'70 
per cent, consist of persons whose tenets have been described as 
Animistic. Under the head " Others " are included the Jains, 
who are all immigrants, and also a few Theists and Agnostics. 
The Hindu religion predominates most largely in Sibsdgar and 
Lakhimpur, where the influence of the Vaishnava Gosains is 
greatest. It includes amongst its adherents more than half the 
population of Cacliar, Ka,mrup, Darrang, and Nowgong, and slightly 
less than half of the people living in Sylhet and Godlpdra. In the 
hill districts, the number of Hindus is nominal. The prevalence 
of the Muhammadan religion is precisely that which one would 
expect from the previous history of the province. Musalmans 
constitute slightly more than half of the population of Sylhet and 
very nearly one-third of the population of the Cachar and Goalpdra 
districts. Higher up the Brahmaputra Valley, the proportion of 
Musalmans steadily decreases, while in the hill districts the 
number is almost nominal. There has been very little change 
during the decade in the proportion which Musalmans bear to the 
total population. In 1881 the percentage was 26-98, and it is now 
27*09. The primitive beliefs of the different Mongolian tribes 
have been classed together under one head, " Animistic," partly 
because too little is known about them to enable any more minute 
classification to be adopted, and partly because their general 
characteristics are everywhere much the same. The following 
description of them is taken from the last Census Eeport : 

There is a vague but very general belief in some one omnipotent being, 
who is well disposed towards men, and whom, therefore, there is no necessity 
for propitiating. Then come a number of evil spirits, who are ill-disposed 
towards human beings, and to whose malevolent interference are ascribed 
all the woes which afflict mankind. To them, therefore, sacrifices must be 
offered. Ihese malevolent spirits are sylvan deities, spirits of the trees 
the rocks and the streams, and sometimes also of the tribal ancestors. 
There is no regular priesthood, but some persons are supposed to be better 
endowed with the power of divination than others. When a calamity occurs, 
one or more of these diviners, shamans, or soothsayers, is called on to 



ascertain the particular demon who is offended, and who requires to be Census. 
pacified by a sacrifice. This is done either by devil-dancing, when the 
diviner works himself into a paroxysm of drunkenness and excitement, and 
then holds converse with the unseen spirits around him, or by the exami- 
nation of omens, — eggs, grains of rice, or the entrails of a fowl. There 
is a profound belief in omens of all sorts ; no journey is undertaken unless 
it is ascertained that the fates are propitious, while persons who have started 
on a journey will turn back, should adverse omens be met with on the way. 
One peculiarity in connection with their sacrifices may be mentioned. On 
all necessary occasions goats, fowls, and other animals are offered to the 
gods ; but it is always assumed that the latter will be contented -oith the 
blood and entrails ; the flesh is divided amongst the sacrificer and his friends, 
the presiding soothsayer usually getting the lion's share. 

The great majority of the people in the hill districts are still 
animistic, and so also are from 20 to 30 per cent, of the popula- 
tion of Kamriip, Darrang, and Nowgong. Elsewhere the number 
are comparatively small, owing to the proselytising influence of 
Hinduism, which has almost efl'aced the identity of the non- Aryan 
constituents of the Surma Valley population, and is rapidly doing 
the same in Upper Assam, where the Yaisnava Gosains are 
especially active, and the observances which they enforce in the 
case of new converts are few^ and light. Owing to defects in the 
form in which information on the subject was collected in 1881, 
it is impossible to furnish figures to show at what rate the process 
of conversion is proceeding to-day, but there is no doubt that it is 
steadily going on. 



[Chap. VI. 

Census. ij^he fio-ures for Christians are given in greater detail below 


umber of Christians, 

Percentage on 



total population* 




Europeans and Eurasians, 







Cachar (plains) 







































































Korth Cachar 














Khdsi and Jaintia Hills 









Garo Hills 









North Lushai Hills (Civil and 






Total for the Province 









In Assam there are several^ missions. Judging by their 
results, the most important of these is that of the Welsh Calvinistic 
Methodists already referred to, who for many years past have been 
working amongst the Khasis. This race appears to be more than 
usually receptive of Christianity, and the number of Christians 
amongst them has risen from 1,895 in 1881 to 6,941 at the census 
taken two years ago. The next missions to be mentioned are those 
of the American Baptists, who have stations at Tura, Gauhdti, 
Nowtromx, Sibsti^ar, and Mokokcham?. A fair amount of success 
has attended their efiorts, and the number of native Baptists now 



reported amounts to 3,718, against 1,475 at the previous census. Census. 
The greater part of the increase is found in Godlpara and the Garo 
Hills. In Nowgong the number is almost |^stationary, the increase 
during the last ten years being only 29, or less than three new 
converts a year. Next, in point of numbers, come the missions of 
the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, whose converts have 
risen from 640 to 1,324. There is a small colony of Sonthals of 
the Lutheran Church in Goalpdra ; but this is rather a settlement 
of persons converted to Christianity elsewhere than a centre of 
mission work in the generally accepted use of the term. The total 
number of native Christians has risen during the last ten years 
from 5,462 to 14,762. A small proportion of the increase is due 
to the immigration of Christian Uriyas and Sonthals, but by far 
the greater part is the result of the labours of the missionaries of 
different denominations within the province. 

The other religions may be dismissed in a few words. The 
persons shown as Bhuddhists in Sibsagar, Lakhimpur, and the 
Naga Hills are chiefly the descendants of persons who immigrated 
from the Hukong valley about a hundred years ago ; those in 
Kamrup and Darrang are Bhutias, of whom numbers visit these 
districts every cold weather ; and those in Goalpara and the Gdro 
Hills are the relics of the Burmese occupation at the beginning of 
the century. 

209. The age statistics have been discussed in the Census 
Beport, and it would be superfluous to 
reproduce them here. It will suffice to say that 
an examination of the fii^ures recorded seems to indicate a birth- 
rate of 49 and a death-rate of 42 per thousand, and an average 
duration of life of rather less than 24 years ; but the age returns 
are so unreliable that it would be unsafe to accept these figures as 
anything more than a rough approximation to the truth. 
Assuming that men are fit for work between the aoje of 15 and 59, 
and women from 15 to 44, it has been calculated that 63 per cent. 
of the male and 46 per cent, of the female population of the 
province are capable of adding to the material prosperity of the 



[Chap, VI. 

Census. g-j^Q. The proportion of the married, single, and widowed of 

each sex per ten thousand of the population in 
the different districts is as follows : 













Cachar (plains) 









































1,272 1 















North Cachar 







Naga Hills 







Khasi and Jaintia Hills 







Garo Hills 







Nortb Lushai Hills (Civil and 







Total ot the Province 



The proportions of the married, single, and widowed at the 
different age periods and amongst the various religions have been 
fully discussed in the Census Report, and it is unnecessary to 
discuss the subject further here. 

211. The census returns deal with four infirmities, — insanity, 
Infirmities. dcaf-mutism, blindness, and leprosy. 

Total number afflicted. 

Average number 

of I'ersons of whom 

one is afflicted. 
























Deaf-mutism .. 






























The large increase in the total number of persons afflicted is 
attributed to better enumeration and a more perfect system of 


tabulation, rather than to any spread of these infirmities during Census. 
the decade. The figures for insanity and leprosy show that these 
infirmities are more prevalent in Assam than in most parts of India, 
but the number of the insane is nevertheless far lower than that 
recorded in European countries. The proportion of deaf-mutes is 
much the same in Assam as in other Indian provinces, while that 
of the blind is considerably smaller, the reasons for the latter 
result being apparently the dampness of the climate and a less 
general prevalence of small-pox. 

The high proportion of lepers is somewhat unexpected ; the 
liability of the people to this loathsome complaint was first noticed 
in a report by the Civil Surgeon of Sibsdgar to ^Ir. Mills, on his 
visit to the province in 1853. 

212. The census returns display a great variety of language. 
The province is peopled by numerous differ- 

Languages. ., -, ., ^ 

ent tribes, and each tribe has its own pe- 
culiar dialect. The list of languages is further swollen by the various 
tongues spoken by the large immigrant population. The indi- 
genous languages may all be classed under four main families, 
between the individual members of which verbal and grammatical 
resemblances are sufficiently numerous, and the difierences are, 
generally speaking, not more marked than one would have 
anticipated from the former isolation of the difierent tribes and the 
fact that their languages are, as a rule, unwritten. First come two 
languages of the Aryan family, Bengali and Assamese, the former 
being spoken by some two and three quarter millions of people, 
residing chiefly in the Surma Valley and Goalpdra, while the latter 
is the parent tongue of nearly one and a half millions in the five 
upper districts of the Brahmaputra Valley. Next to be mentioned 
is the Assam branch of the great family of Tibeto-Burman languages, 
which, with the exception of the small Khasi family, includes all 
the tongues spoken by the Non-Aryan tribes whose residence in 
the province dates from pre-historic times. More than 800,000 
persons still speak languages of this stock, chief amongst which 
may be reckoned Kachari, spoken by 200,000 persons, Garo, spoken 
by 120,000, and Manipuri^ by 72,000. These languages have been 

2 D * 


Census, classified into groups, of wliicli, so far as our knowledge at present 
extends, that known as the Bodo group is the most homogeneous, 
and at the same time the largest, containing, as it does, more than 
half the total number of persons returned as speaking one or other 
of the Tibeto-Assam languages. One of the most interesting 
pieces of information derived from the returns of the last census 
is the proof afforded us that these languages, especially those of the 
Bodo group, are rapidly dying out. Two Bodo dialects (Moran 
and Chutiya) have entirely disappeared from the realms of spoken 
speech ; and Koch, Eabha, Kachari, and Lalung are also showing 
signs of a rapidly approaching extinction. It is only in the hills, 
where contact with other languages is very slight, that these dialects 
still retain their hold over the tribes to which they belong. The 
Khasi family, referred to above, consists of Khdsi and three allied 
dialects (Synteng, Dyko, and Langam), which are spoken in all by 
over 178,000 people. This family is noteworthy as being altogether 
distinct from the Tibeto-Burman dialects spoken from the tribes 
around it, and in fact from all other non- Aryan languages in India. 
No allied language is known anywhere, except perhaps that spoken 
in Anam. The only family remaining to be referred to is the Shan, 
of which several dialects are spoken in this province by people whose 
ancestors immigrated within comparatively recent years. The older 
Shdn settlers (the Ahoms and many of the Noras) have abandoned 
their ancestral forms of speech, and now ta Ik Assamese, while the 
Turungs, another Shan tribe, speak the language of the Singphos. 
213. The number of castes and tribes returned at the census 
is very great, and only a very brief reference 
can be made to the subject here. The 
following table shows the strength of the professional classes under 
which the castes were tabulated : 



Percentage on 
total population. 


A.— Agricultural ... 



B. — Professional ... 




C. — Commercial ... 



D. — Artizan 

. . . 



E. — Vagrant and minor 

artizan s 



F. — Kaces and nationahties ... 




Each class was subdivided into groups, but space forbids a Census. 
detailed examination of the scheme. It may, however, be said 
that the most numerous Hindu castes included in class A are the 
Kalita (222,606), Halwa Das (143,536), Koch and Eajbansi 
(377,807), Kewat (91,129), and Kaibartta (67,324), and that the 
aboriginal hill tribes, which number in all 1,188,974, are also 
classified under the same head. Chief amongst these tribes are the 
Kacharis (243,378), the Gdros (119,754), the Khasis (117,891), the 
Mikirs (94,829), the Meches (70,201), the Chutiyas (87,691), 
the Eabhas (69,774), the Ldlungs (52,423), the Syntengs (51,739), 
and the different Ndga tribes, numbering in all 102,085. Class B 
includes 102,569 Brahmans, 92,395 Kayasthas, and 23,739 Ganaks. 
Class C is almost entirely composed of immigrants belonging to the 
different Baniya castes. In class D, group 40 — '* Fishermen, Boat- 
men, and Palki bearers " — is numerically the most important ; it 
includes 205,053 Doms, 180,539 Chanddls, and 58,100 Mdhimals, 
the last mentioned being a Musalman fishing caste of Sylhet. 
Other important castes in class D are the following : 










In class F have been included — non-Asiatic foreigners (1,698) 
[amongst whom Enghsh (1,381) and Europeans unspecified (237) 
are the most numerous], Eurasians (383), Christian converts 
(14,756), and "non-Indian Asiatic races" (1,573,237). The last 
mentioned group is artificially swollen by the inclusion in it of all 
Musalmans who described themselves as Sheikh (1,377,015), Saiad 
(12,127), Moghal (2,126), or Pdthdn (13,088). It is weU known 



[Chap. VI, 

Census. ^]^^^ ^|^q ^^^g^ majority of tlie persons tlius returned have no foreign 
blood in their veins, and are simply natives of the country, who 
have assumed these titles on conversion to Muhammadanism ; and 
it would, therefore, have been more correct ethnologically, had these 
persons been classified under some other head. Their entry under 
this head was made under instructions laid down for the whole of 
India by the Census Commissioner. It should be mentioned that 
the Ahoms (153,528), Khamtis (3,040), and other tribes of Shan 
extraction have been included in this class, as the country from 
which their ancestors emigrated lies outside the British boundary. 
214. The occupations returned at the census were classified 
under seven classes, twenty-four orders, and 
ccupa ion. seventy-seven sub-orders. The following 

statement exhibits the distribution of the people per 1,000 over 
the seven main classes in the province generally, in town and 
country and in the three principal divisions, — the Surma Valley 
the Brahmaputra Valley, and the hill districts : 


Total population. 












A— Government 







B — Pasture and agriculture .. 







C— Personal and domestic 








D— Preparation and supply of 

material substances 







B— Commerca 







F— Professions 







G— Indefinite occupation 







Total ., 







Taking the province as a whole, 777 persons in every 1,000, 
or nearly four-fifths of the total population, derive their support 
directly from agriculture, and 127, or rather more than one-eighth, 
from the preparation and supply of material substances. Only 
19 per thousand are returned as belonging to the professional 
class, and only 16 to the commercial. The proportion of persons 
supported by personal and domestic services is also 16 per 1,000. 
Government employment supports 8 per 1,000. 

Chap. VI.] 






of persons 


in each 



of persons 


in l.OUO 

in each 





A— Government 




B — Pasture and agriculture 




C — Personal services 



324 ■;t4 

D — Preparation :ind supply 

of material substances 




E — Commerce, transport. 

and storage 




F — Profcsfii.ns 




G — Indefinite and inde- 




pendent . . 





In the proportional statement given in tlie margin, persons Census. 

who combine agriculture 
"with some other non-agri- 
cultural occupation have 
been shown under the latter. 
The number of persons in 
each class who combine the 
occupation under which 
they have been classified 
witli some means of liveU- 
hood connected with the 
soil, and the proportion 
which they bear to tlie toial 
strength of the class, are 
shown in the margin. More than a third of the persons employed 
under Government, in commercial pursuits, and in the profession, 
are also partly dependent for their subsistence upon agriculture, 
and the same reijiark is true of nearly half the total number of 
persons in class D. Out of the total population shown as follow- 
ing non- agricultural occupations, no' less than 480,740, or 39 per 
cent., derive a portion of their sustenance from cultivation. If 
these be added to those already shown under " Agriculture " in 
the table, the number of persons connected with the soil rises to 
4,692,997, or 86'34 per cent, of the total population. Assuming 
that, on the whole, these persons are supported by agriculture and 
their other occupations in equal proportions, the former is found 
to be the means of subsistence of 82*2 per cent, of the people. 

Turning to the distribution by classes in the three main divi- 
sions of the province, the proportion of persons supported by 
Government service is highest in the hill districts, where the 
regiments and police battalions form a comparatively large 
proportion of the population, and is next highest in the Surma 
Valley, where out of a total of 26,568 persons in this class, 18,155 
are members of the rural police force and their families. 

The proportion of persons whose occupations are purely agricul- 
tural is highest in the Brahmaputra Valley, where it amounts to 


Census. 849 per thousand. In the hill districts, it is somewhat lower, 
owing to the figures for the Khdsi and Jaintia Hills, where a large 
number of persons were returned as general labourers. It is 
lowest in the Surma Valley, which is the most advanced portion 
of the province, and in which the smaller number of agriculturists 
is partly due to a larger number of persons engaged in the prepara- 
tion and supply of material substances, and partly to the fact that 
many cultivators follow also other occupations, and have thus been 
entered under the latter. 

Next to the large proportion of cultivators, the primitive 
condition of the people of this province is best illustrated by the 
exceptionally small number of persons engaged on personal and 
domestic services. In the hill districts only 6 persons per thousand, 
and in the Brahmaputra Valley only 12 per thousand, derive 
their support from this source, while in Sylhet and Cachar the ratio 
only rises to 22 per thousand. 

The number of persons engaged in the preparation and supply 
of material substances is 184 per thousand in the Surma Valley ; 
in the Brahmaputra Valley it falls to 81, and in the hill districts 
to 57 per thousand. 

The commercial and professional classes are small everywhere 
but are better represented in Sylhet and Cachar than in the 
Brahmaputra Valley, and in the latter than in the hill districts. 



Frontier Relations and Feudatory States. 

215. The only Feudatory States with which the Assam Frontier 

4 1 • • • 1 T • 1 1 • Relations. 

Administration has pohtical relations are 

Feudatory States. . . , 

Manipur and the petty States in the Khdsi 
Hills, Of the latter, sufficient has already been said in Chap- 
ter II, Section 5, of this report. A list of these States, their 
population, revenue, and the names of their rulers will be found 
among the statistical tables appended (Part I, Tables Bl 
and 2). 

216. Manipur is a protected State lying between Burma on the 

east, the Naga Hills on the north, Cachar on 
the west, and the Lushai Hills and the 
country of the Sukte Kukis on the south. It is almost entirely a 
hill country, the exception being the valley of Manipur in its 
centre. Its area is between 7,000 and 8,000 square miles, and 
its population, according to the census of 1881,* 221,070 souls. 
Of these, 85,288 are returned as hill tribes, the remainder being 
by religion Hindu or Muhammadan, and consisting of the popula- 
tion of the valley of Manipur, in which is vsituated the capital of 
the State. The claim of the Manipuris to be Hindus, however, 
rests on no better foundation than the same claim on the part of 
Ahoms, Kacharis, or Tipperas (with all of whom the Manipur 
ruling family has intermarried) ; and while their features clearly 
show that they belong to the Indo-Chinese stock, their language 
is closely allied to those of the Kuki tribes which border them on 
the south. f 

* It was explained in the last chapter that the records of the Census taken in Manipur 
in 1891 were destroyed during the disturbances of the following March. 

•f Although the above ia true of the present people of Manipur, there is some reason 
for believing that this territory was the road by which Hindu influence from the west was 
first brought to bear upon the Burmese races of the Irrawaddy Valley (see Phayre, 
" History of Burma," pages 3, 4, and 15). 


Frontier The kingdom of Maiiipur first emerges from obscurity as a 

RELATION'S. Qgjgi^|3o^^i, and ally of the Shdn kingdom of Pong, which had its 
capital at Mogaung. The regalia of the royal family are said to 
have been bestowed by king Komba of Pong, who at the same 
time added the valley of Khambat to Manipur. In 1714 a Naga, 
named Pamheiba, became Edja of Manipur, and adopted 
Hinduism, taking the name of Gharib Kawaz. His people followed 
his example, and since that date have been conspicuous for the 
rigidity with which they observe the rules of caste and ceremonial 
purity. Gharib Nawaz, during his reign of forty years, was 
eno-ao-ed in constant warfare with Burma, and this state of things 
continued during those of his successors. Manipur was frequently 
invaded by the Burmese, whose last occupation of the country 
beo-an in 1819. The three Manipuri princes, Mdrjit, Chaurjit, and 
Gambhir Singh, were compelled to escape to Cachar, which 
country, as has already been related, they occupied. With them 
laro-e numbers of Manipuris emigrated, and many of their 
descendants, together with emigrants of later date, are still to be 
found in Cachar and Sylhet. 

When war was declared against Burma by the British Govern- 
ment in 1824, and the Burmese had been expelled from Cachar, 
assistance in arms and money was given by the Company to 
Gambhir Singh in an attempt to recover possession of Manipur. 
In this he was successful, occupying not only the valley in which 
the capital is situated, but also the Kubo Valley down to the 
Nino-thi or Chindwin river, lying to the east of the former bounda- 
ries of the State, and peopled by Shdns (called Kabau in Manipuri). 
The treaty of Yandabu with Burma, executed in February 1826, 
declared (article II) that should Gambhir Singh desire to return 
to Manipur, he should be recognised by the king of Ava as lUja 

Gambhir Singh being thus established on the throne, the levy 
with which he had effected the reconquest of his country was 
placed under the management of two British officers, and supplied 
with ammunition, and also with pay, by the British Government. 
In 1833 the British Government agreed to annex to Manipur the 


ranges of hills on the west, between the eastern and western bends Frontier 

. . . . . Rll\tions. 

of the Barak, giving that State the line of the Jiri and the western 
bend of the Barak as its boundary, on condition that the Raja 
removed all obstructions to trade between his State and Cachar, 
kept in repair the road between Manipur and British territory, 
and promised to assist the Government, in the event of war with 
Burma, both with carriage and with troops. In 1834 Gambhir 
Singh died, and his death was followed by the regency of Nar 
Singh, his minister, and a great grandson of Gharib Nawaz, on 
behalf of the dead king's son, Chandra Kirti Singh, then one year 
old. In the same year, the British Government decided to restore 
the Kubo Valley to Burma, the Government of which had never 
ceased to remonstrate against its separation from that country^ 
The valley was given back, and a new boundary laid down in the 
presence of British Commissioners by an agreement dated the 9th 
January 1834, and at the same time the British Government 
bound itself to pay a monthly stipend of Rs. 500 to the Eaja of 
Manipur in compensation for its loss. In 1835 the assistance 
formerly given to the Manipur levy was withdrawn, and a Political 
•Agent was appointed to reside at Manipur. 

In 1844 the Queen Dowager, widow of Gambhir Singh and 
mother of Chandra Kirti, attempted to poison Nar Singh, the 
Eegent ; her attempt failed, and she fled from the country with 
her son. Nar Snigh then assumed the raj in his own name, and 
ruled till his death in 1850. He was succeeded by his brother 
Debendra Singh ; but this prince ruled for only three months, 
Chandra Kirti Singh, with the help of Nar Singh's three sons 
succeeding in ejecting him and recovering possession of the 
throne. 'J'his was followed by some disorder in the State ; but in 
February 1851 the Government of India decided upon recognising 
the succession of Chandra Kirti Singh, fruaranteeincf the raj to him 
and his descendants, and preventing, by force of arms if necessary, 
any attempts by rival chiefs to dislodge him. 

In 1851 Debendra Singh's and Nar Singh's sons attempted a 
rising. In 1852 another attempt occurred, led by Kanhai Singh, 
son of Marjit, Gambhir Singh's brother. In 1857 some of the 

2 E 


Frontier rebellious sepoys from Cliittagong, wlio had found tlieir way to 

Relations. ,, 

Cacliar, were used by one Narendrajit, a younger son of Chaurjit, 
to raise a disturbance. Narendrajit was transported. In 1859 
Maipdk, a descendant of Gharib Nawaz, invaded tlie valley, but 
was defeated and fled. In 1862 he again, in conjunction with 
another Eajputra, named Khaifa Singh, headed an attack, and 
penetrated to the Eaja's palace, where he was captured. Kanhai 
Singh made another attempt in 18G5, when his followers were 
attacked and dispersed by British troops and police. Another 
raid was perpetrated by Gokul Singh, a younger son of Debendra 
Singh, in 1866. His enterprise failed, like the rest, but he escaped 
for the time. He was captured in 1868, tried in Cacliar, and 
sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. 

In the Naga w^ar of 1879 the Mahardja of Manipur distinguish- 
ed himself by rendering loyal assistance to the British Government. 
He furnished a force, which under the leadership of the Political 
Ageiit, Tolonel (now Sir James) Johnstone, raised the siege of 
Koliima by the Nagas, and prevented a great catastrophe. In 
recognition of this service the Government of India bestowed upon 
the Mahdraja Chandra Kirti Singh the dignity of K.C.S.I. Another 
series of events, which gave occasion for much correspondence, 
was the raids of certain Kukis known as Chasads on the eastern 
frontier of Manipur territory. It was believed that these raids 
were abetted by the Shdn Tsawbwa, or chief of Samjok in the 
Kubo Valley ; and, as there was much indehniteness in the frontier 
north of the Kubo Valley proper as set forth in the agreement of 
1 834, it was determined by the Government of India to send a 
Commission to define and demarcate the boundary of Manipur in 
this direction. This task was accomplished in the cold weather 
of 1881-82, and the Burmese Government (who were invited to 
co-operate in the demarcation, but did not do so) were informed 
that the boundary so laid down would be maintained by the 
Government of India. The raiding Kukis, who were favoured in 
their enterprise by the uncertainty of the frontier, were found to be 
settled within Manipur territory, and some of them were induced 
to move further in, and were thus brought under stricter control. 


On the death of Chandra Kirti Singh in 1886, Bara Chauba Frontier 
the eldest son of Nar Singh, who had been Maharaja from 1844 
to 1850, made an attempt to get possession of the gadi^ but was 
eventually defeated by a detachment of the Cachar Military Police, 
after which he gave himself up, and was deported with his 
relatives to Hazaribac^h. 

The last event to be recorded in the history of this State is 
the terrible disaster which took place in March 1891. In Septem- 
ber 18yO the Mahdnija Sura Chandra Singh was driven from his 
palace by his two youngest brothers, at the instigation of the 
Senapati, Tekendrajit Singh, and took refuge with the Political 
Agent. Notwithstanding the advice given by the latter, he 
declared his intention of abdicating, and left Manipur for Brinda-- 
ban. On reaching British territory, he repudiated any intention 
of abdicating, and requested the assistance of the Government of 
India to regain the gadi. The Government of India, after duly 
considering the matter, decided that the Jubraj should be confirmed 
as Raja, but that the turbulent Senapati should be removed from 
Manipur. To carry out this decision, Mr. Quinton, who was 
then Chief Commissioner, proceeded to Manipur early in 1891 with 
an escort, and ordered the Senapati to surrender himself. This 
he refused to do. Troops were sent to arrest him in his house 
in the palace enclosure. They were fiercely attacked by the 
Manipuris, and the engagement continued until the evening, wlien 
an armistice was agreed to, and firing temporarily ceased. The 
Chief Commissioner and four other officers were then induced, 
under a promise of safe conduct, to enter the " Pat " and 
hold a Darbar in the Darbar hall at the entrance to the Pidja's 
citadel. No agreement being found possible, the oSicers started 
to return to the Residency ; but on the way the crowd closed in 
on them, and the Political Agent, Mr. Grimwood, was fatally 
speared and Lieutenant Simpson severely wounded. The Chief 
Commissioner and his companions were then kept prisoners for 
two hours, after which they were marched to the green space in 
front of the dragons, and there beheaded by the public execu- 
tioner. The attack on the Residency was then resumed, and the 


Froxtiek defenders, tliinking it untenable, retreated to Cacliar. These 
* events took place on the 2^111 March. On the 27th April the 
place Tras entered b}^ three columns of British troops, marching 
from Silchar, Koliima, and Tammu. Ihe Eegent and his brothers 
had fled the night before, together with the Tangkhul Major, the 
Senapati, and other persons implicated in the outrage, but all were 
subsequently captured. The Senapati, Tangkhul Major, and some 
others were sentenced to death and executed, and the Eegent and 
his brothers were transported for life. The future of the State 
had then to be considered, and it was eventually decided by the 
Gcjvernment of India to regrant the State and to place upon the 
throne a j'outh named Chura Chand, a scion of a collateral line. 
During his minority the administration of the State is to be con- 
ducted by the Political Agent, and numerous reforms, including 
the introduction of better judicial tribunals, the abolition of the 
system of lalup, or forced labour, etc., have already been effected. 

The Political Agent in Manipur was till 1879 only partly under 
the control of the Chief Commissioner, with whom he corresponded 
only in regard to matters connected with Assam and its frontier, 
but in that year he was made directly subordinate to the Chief 
Commissioner. On the regrant of the State in 1891, his designation 
was changed to " Political Agent and Superintendent of the State. " 
217. The frontier States and tribes which adjoin the province 

Frontier States and tribes. ^^ ^^^^^^^' Commencing at the north-west cor- 
ner, are the followinij;' : 

(1) Bhutan, 

{i) Ehutias subject to Thibet, 

(3) Independent Bhutias, 

(4) Akas, 

(5) Dafla«, 

(6) Miris, 

(7) Abors, 

(8) Mishmis, 

(9) Khamtis, 

(10) Singpbos, 

(11) Ncl^ras, 
(bere Manipur intervenes, 

and tben follow) — 

(12) Lusbais, and 

(13) HillTippera. 

218. With the Deb Eaja of Bhutan the Chief Commissioner, 

■gjjy^^j^ has now no direct relations. Whenever it 

may be necessary to communicate with him, 


this is (lone tliroiigli die Commissioner of Koch Bihar, a copy of Frontier 

,1 . . ' . , , . 1 ^ Relations. 

the communication beini^^ sent at the same time to the Government 
of liengal. Akhough this State adjoins Assam to the north of the 
districts of Goalpara, Kdmrup, and Darrang, as far east as the 
Doishdm river, no official intercourse other than complimentary 
interviews with local officials is kept up. 

On the conquest of Assam, tlie northern portion of Kdmrup, 
consisting of the Bijni, Chappakamar, Chappaguri, Banska, and 
Garkaha Duars was found in possession of Bhutia chiefs, who 
paid a tribute of Es. 3,049 yearly to the Assam Eajas. 'Jo the 
east of the Bornadi the two Duars of Khalim? and Buriiruma were 
held by the Bhutias for eight months of the year, and by the 
Assam Eaja for the remaining four (the rainy season). The pay- 
ment of tribute by the Bhutia Jungpens during the first fifteen 
years of our rule was very irregular, and the frontier was conti- 
nually harassed by dacoities and outrages perpetrated on our sub- 
jects, which necessitated frequent armed reprisals. At last, in 
1841, it was determined (since the possession of these tracts by 
the Bhutias was of recent date) to resume the Dudrs, and bring 
them under British management, paying to the Bhutan Govern- 
ment an annual sum of Es. 10,000 as compensation for their loss. 
This sum was regularly paid until the outbreak of the Bhutan war 
in 1864, when it was stopped, and the seven Assam Duars (as 
well as the five Eastern Duars north of Goalpara, by name 
Guma, Eipu, Chirang, Sidli, and Bijni, and the seven Western 
Dudrs north of Koch Bihar, were finally annexed to British territory. 
At the same time the Fort of Diwangiri and its neighbourhood, 
which commands the passage down to the bazars of Kdmrup, was 
occupied and retained as British territory. 

The Bhutias come dowm during the cold weather for pasture 
and trade into the north of Kdmriip and western Darrancf, but few 
of them appear to visit the thinly-peopled submontane tract of 
Godlpdra. Most of their trade is done at Subankhata, Kumori 
Kata, and Genbdri in the Kdmrup district south of Dewangiri, 
and at Ghagrapara in Darrang. There are a few Bhutia settle- 
ments in British territory at the foot of the hills, but their condi- 


Frontier tion is not very prosperous, and they seem to be a survival of the 
■ old days of Bhutia supremacy, rather than the beginning of a more 
extended immigration. 

During their visits to the plains it is not uncommon to hear 
of exactions made by the Bhutias visiting the Kamrup district, 
who take advantage of the timorous nature of the villagers to 
force upon them chillies and salt and extort in exchange large 
quantities of rice and other articles. These exactions have of 
late become so bad that it has been found necessary to place an 
additional guard at Kakolabari, the cost of which is deducted from 
the posa of the Eaja. 

21q. The Bhutias of the Kan^pdra Dudr, which lies east 
of Bhutan Proper and extends from the 

Bhutias subject to Thibet. -r\ • i it-. 

Doisham to the Eota river, are dependent 
upon Towang, which is a dependency of the Government of Lhassa- 
The chiefs of this Duar, called the Sat Rajas, used, like their neigh- 
bours of Bhutan Proper, to levy dues from the inhabitants of the 
adjoining plains. In 1844 their claims were bought out by the 
British Government on payment of an annual sum of Es, 5,000. 
Our relations with these people since the composition of 1844 have 
only once been disturbed. In 1852 one of the Gelongs, or Thibet- 
an officials appointed from Lhassa to supervise the local chiefs, 
having some misunderstanding with his superiors, fled to British 
territory. His surrender was peremptorily demanded by the autho- 
rities of Lhassa, and a Thibetan army moved towards the frontier. 
A British force was assembled at Udalijuri, with two suns. But no 
hostihties actually occurred ; the Thibetans retired, the fugitive 
Gelong was removed to Gauhati, and the Dudr was reopened for 
trade. This pass is specially interesting, as it is the only place in 
many hundred miles of Himdlaydn barrier where the British power 
is in actual contact with Thibet. The hillmen, including Thibetans 
from the higher ranges, resort in considerable numbers during the 
cold weather through this Dudr to the annual fair at Udalguri, 
which lies due south of the gap through which the Dhansiri river 
issues from the hills. 


Exactions, similar to those referred to in the last para^fraph Fi^o^-'tier 

lor Relations. 

have occasionally been reported ; but these acts of oppression are 
now comparatively rare. Owing to the fall in the price of salt 
imported from England, the Bhutias find their trade less profitable 
than it used to be, and the number who visit the plains is decreas- 
ing every year. 

220. Next to these Bhutias subject to Towang come the Sat 

Eajas of Charduar, chiefs who live at villages 

Independent Bhutias. i\ i i i ^ r i i • t-» , "^z • 

called by the people ot the plains Ftuprai- 
gaon and ShergAon. They claim to be independent of Towang, and 
rule the face of the hills from the Rota to the Diputa river. The 
Thebengia Bhutias are a distinct race and live several days' 
journey into the hills, but they used, in conjunction with the 
Sat Edjas, to levy contributions from the people of the adjacent 
plains. Erom 1839 to 1844 these people were excluded from the 
plains by the British Government, in punishment for outrages com- 
mitted bv them. On their submittinc^ and executinof a formal 
agreement to refrain from aggressions, they received annual pen- 
sions, — the Shergdon and Ruprdigdon Bhutias of Rs. 2,526-7 a year, 
and the Thebengia Bhutias of Rs. 145-13-6. They come down 
annually to receive their pensions at Tezpur. They also hold an 
annual fair at a place beyond British territor}'-, in the gorge of the 
Belsiri river, called Daimdra, where some trade is done with the 
people of the plains, which is registered by a police post at the 
boundary pillar on the frontier. 

221. Next to the Bhutias come the Akas, who occupy the 

sub-Himalayan region as far east as the 

issue of tlie Khari-Dikarai river. This 

tribe is divided into two sections, called by the Assamese 

the Hazdrikhoas and the Kapahchors.* The former rec3ived a 

♦ The first of these names probably indicates that a thousand gots of pails, or indi- 
vidual groups of revenue-payers, was set aside to provide a stipend for the tribe : kiwa 
(eater) is the usual Assamese termination, indicating tliat a person is supported f -om 
the revenues of any place or people. Kapuhchor means cotton-thief, this cla-s of Akas 
being famous for their night attacks, in which they lurked in the cotton-fieldg with a 
primitive sort of dark lantern, waiting their opportunity. 


Frontier ^jo^w * or stipend, from tlie Assam Rajas, and tlie latter levied 
' contributions without having any such title. Both tribes are 
believed to be very limited in number ; but to the north of them is 
an allied race called the Mijis, of whose strength nothing certain is 
known. Though small, however, this tribe has a great reputation 
for violence and audacity. For many years Tdgi Rdja, the chief 
of the Kapahchor Akas, gave us much trouble by his robberies 
and murders in the plains. In 1829 he was captured, and lodged 
for four years in the Gauhati jail. In 1832 he was released, in 
the hope that he had learnt a lesson, and would be quiet in future ; 
but he immediately resumed his attacks, and in 1835 massacred 
all the inhabitants of the British village and police outpost of 
Balipara. For seven years after this he evaded capture-, his tribe 
remaining outlawed in the hills. At length, in 1842, he surren- 
dered, and it was decided to use his influence with the other chiefs 
to secure the peace of the border. An agreement was made, under 
which the Kapahchor Aka chiefs receive Es. 520 a year as pen- 
sion. The Hazarikhoas receive a pension of Rs. 180. Both tribes 
have certain small areas of land in the plains allotted to them for 
cultivation. The Kapahchors threatened in 1875 to give trouble, 
claiming an extensive tract of forest and other land on the Bharali 
river, which was cut off by the demarcation of the boundary in 
1874-75. Nothing further occurred at the time, and the new 
boundary was quietly accepted. 

This dispute, however, coupled with one or two other grievances 
of a very minor nature, is believed to have been the cause of the 
acts of aggression which resulted in the expedition of 1883-84. 
In Ot'tober 1883, Lakhidhar mauzadar, who had visited the village 
of Medhi, the Kapahchor Aka chief, to ask him to supply articles 
for the Calcutta Exhibition and to send down a man and a woman 

* Tlic word ^:) or jmcha ( •'(5! ) litei ally means a collection or subsciiption for a 
common purpose ; it is probably connected with the word pnnch (live), and recalls the 
Mahratta chanlh, <>r fourth. Tlic word is still well understood in this sense in Upper 
Assam. In its special sense of payment to a hill tribe, it strictly denotes the subscription 
which the \illafre raised in order to mr;et the customary demands of their visitors from 
the hills, in other words, blackmail. It is not properly applicable to a fixed stipend, 
paid, as in these cases, by Government in accordance with treaty ; but it has now come 
to include such stipends. 

Chap. VII.] FKONTIEll llELATIONS, ETC. 2 1 7 

to be modelled there, was forcibly detained, and shortly afterwards Frontier 

' '' -I p p Relations, 

Medhi's brother, Chandi, carried off a clerk and forest ranger trom 
BaHpara. A punitive expedition was despatched, and Medhi's 
village was occupied, the Akas taking refuge in the jungle. They 
gave up their captives (except Lakhidhar, who had died) and 
sent in some rifles and other articles which they had carried off; 
but the chiefs themselves did not come in before tlie departure of 
the troops, which took place only fourteen days after their arrival' 
and appears to have been somewhat premature. The expedition 
was followed by a blockade of the frontier, which was maintained 
until 1888, when the Aka chiefs appeared before the Deputy 
Commissioner and tendered their submission. Since that time they 
are reported to have been perfectly well behaved and contented. 
222. Next to the Akas come the Dafl as, who, with the Hill Miris 
and the Abors, occupy the whole of the rest 
of the sub-Himdlaydn hills until the Mishmi 
country is reached. These three races speak languages which are 
said to be mutually intelligible, and they are evidently, though 
differing in arms and style of dress, nearly akin. The Daflas and 
Miris were, hke the Akas, in receipt of f>05a5, or pensionary allowance, 
under the Assam Government, as a condition of their refraining 
from aggression on the northern tracts of Darrang and Lakhimpur, 
and these allowances have been continued by the British Govern- 
ment. There are two divisions of the Daflas, one called the Paschim, 
or Western, Daflas, and the other the Tagin Daflas, who live to 
the east of these. For many years the Daflas have been quiet 
neighbours. Previous to 1837 their raids on the frontier were 
numerous, but in that year the system of annual pensions was 
settled. The only occasion since then when they have given 
trouble was in 1872 and 1873, when the Tagin Daflas broke the peace 
on two occasions by seizing some plains Daflas who were believed by 
them to have caused sickness in the hills. These outrages were 
punished first by a blockade ; on this proving ineffectual in obtain- 
ing the surrender of the captives, an expedition was sent into the 
hills north of the Dikhrang river in the cold weather of 1874-75, 
which was followed by the release of the prisoners and the 

2 F 


Frontier Submission of the tribe. Since then our relations with the Dallas 
Relations, j^^^,^ }^een peaceful. Considerable numbers of this people, whose 
superstitions in regard to sickness and witchcraft lead them to 
frequent attacks by one village upon another, have settled in the 
plains of Darrang and Lakhimpur as Government ryots. The last 
census showed 1,137 Daflas as settled in these districts, against 
549 in 1881 and 418 in 1872. 

223. The Miris are a quiet and inoffensive race. They receive 
an annual allowance in money, salt, and rum 


from the North Lakhimpur treasury. It is 
believed that they stand in some sort of servile relation to the 
Abors, to avoid which large numbers of this people have settled 
in Upper Assam as British subjects. In the plains they still 
preserve their customs of building houses on piles, and of cultivat- 
ino- hy j hum ; they are expert and fearless boatmen, and always 
settle on the banks of a river. Eetaining their own language 
among themselves, they also speak Assamese, to which is due the 
name by which they are known in Assam (Miri, or Mili, meaning 
go-between or interpreter), as they act as a channel of communica- 
tion with the Abors of the hills. The total number of Miris 
settled in Assam is 37,430, of whom all except about 3,000 are 
found in Sibsdgar and Lakhimpur. 

224. The Abors, who call themselves P^ddm {Abor being an 
, Assamese word designating an independent, 

remote, and unknown savage), occupy the 
hills east of the Miris as far as the Dibong river. They bear a 
very different character from the latter, and the want of popula- 
tion on the north bank of the Brahmaputra from opposite 
Dibrugarh to Sadiya is chiefly due to dread of their raids. Their 
principal villages are in the hills about the course of the Diliong, 
but several recent settlements have been founded in the plains. 
Murders and outrages committed by them on Government ryots, 
in some cases close to the headquarters station of Dibrugarh, have 
led to several punitive expeditions. In 1858 one was sent to punish 
the massacre of a Bihia village by the Bor Meyong Abors, but was 
not successful in its object. In 1859 a second expedition was sent. 


and met with better fortune. In 18G1 another massacre of Bihias, frontier 
a few miles from Dibrugarh, on the south side of the Brahmaputra, Relation's. 
occurred. This was followed by preparations for establishing a line 
of outposts along the north bank of the Brahmaputra, connected 
by a road, to guard against such attacks in future. The Abors 
appear to have been impressed by these operations. They made 
overtures, which were responded to, and a meeting took place in 
November 1862 between them and the Deputy Commissioner. A 
treaty was arranged with eight communities of the tribe, promis- 
ing them, on condition of good behaviour, an annual allowance 
of iron hoes, salt, rum, opium, and tobacco. Later, in November 
1862 and in January 1863, some other powerful villages made 
similar as^reements. The last concluded was made with the 
remaining communities in April 1866. All these agreements recite 
that the British territory extends to the foot of the hills. The 
allowance to the tribe is paid at the Darbdr held annually at Sadiya ; 
but on several occasions the Abors have held sulkily aloof, and 
have not presented themselves at the Darbar. 

In 1881 it was apprehended that certain villages of Abors, who 
had expressed an intention to cross the Dibong river and settle 
upon the hills beneath those occupied by the Chuhkdta Mishmis, 
would carry their hostihties with the latter tribe into British 
territory, and cut them off from access to Sadiya. The execution 
of this plan was prevented by the despatch of a mixed force of 
troops and police to occupy the post of Nizamghat, where the 
Dibong river issues from the hills north of Sadiya, and another 
lower down, opposite the Abor village of Bomjur. 

In 1889 two Meyong villages combined to decoy four British 
subjects, Miris, beyond the Inner Line, where they murdered them, 
the object apparently being to establish a claim iovposa. A fine of 20 
mithans was imposed upon them, and the whole of the Passi and 
Meyong Abor frontier was blockaded pendinpj payment. The fine was 
paid in less than a year, and no trouble has since been given by this 

225. The Mishmis, who occupy the hills from the Dibong to 
the Brahmakund in the north-eastern corner 
of the valley, are divided into three tribes, 



Frontier called respectively the Chulikata or crop-haired Mishmis, the Tain 
or Digaru Mishmis, and the Mizhu or Midhi Mishmis. The first 
named have on several occasions attacked Khdmti settlements in 
the neighbourhood of Sadiya, and have threatened to give trouble. 
Of late years, however, they have become embroiled with the Abors, 
and have looked to the British Government for protection and 
assistance. They resort in considerable numbers to the Sadiya 
fair, and are active traders. The Digdru Mishmis are a qtiiet, 
inoffensive people, and act as guides to the pilgrims to the Brahma- 
kund. Of the Mizhu or Midhi Mishmis, who are the most remote 
of the three, we know little. In 1854 two French priests, M. M. 
Krick and Bourry, who endeavoured to pass through their country 
from Assam to Thibet, were murdered by a party of these Mishmis 
under a chief named Kai-i-sha. This outrac^e was aveng^ed in 
February 1855 by an expedition under Lieutenant Eden, who with 
20 Assam Light Infantry and 40 Khamti volunteers reached 
Kai-i-sha's village, stormed it, and took the murderer prisoner. 
In December 1885, Mr. F. J. Needham, Assistant Political Officer 
at Sadiya, accompanied by Captain E. II. Molesworth, Commandant 
of Military Police, and three police orderlies, succeeded in penetrat- 
ing through the Mizhu Mishmi country and in entering the Thibetan 
province of Zayul, and thereby establishing the identity of the 
Sanpo with the Dibong. 

The Chulikata Mishmis were blockaded from 1884 to 1887 in 
consequence of the murder of an Assamese at Dikrang in revenge, 
it is said, for the death of a Chulikata chief, Lako, on his return 
from the Calcutta Exhibition, for which the superstitious tribesmen 
believed the British Government to be responsible. The blockade 
was raised in 1887 on the payment of a fine of Es. 2,000. 

None of the Mishmi tribes receive any jiosa^ nor do formal 
treaties or aojreements with them exist. 

226. The Khamtis settled about Sadiya have already been 

Khimtis mentioned in paragraph 75 of this report. 

They are immigrants from a Shfln State beyond 

the Pjitkoi range, formerly tributary to Burma, and known to the 

Assamese as Bor Kluimti, They are of the same race as the 

Ahoms, but differ from the latter in being Buddhists. They are 


a literary and cultivated people, and much more civilised than Froxtier 

•^ . . ^ ^ . Relations. 

any of their neighbours, not excluding the Assamese. They first 
settled in Sadiya during the latter part of the eighteenth century. 
When the Burmese were expelled from Assam, the Khdrati Gohain, 
or chief of Sadiya, executed an agreement of allegiance to the 
British Government, and Sadiya was selected as the residence of 
the Political Agent in Upper Assam. In 1839, after the death of 
the Khamti chief, with whom we made the agreement, the Khdmtis of 
Sadiya suddenly rose, and massacred the Political Agent, Colonel 
White, and many of his guards and attendants. A war folio ,ved, 
ending in the transportation of the Khdmti chief's son and his 
followers to a distant part of British territory. In 1843 some chiefs 
of this race were again allowed to settle about Sadiya ; and in 
1850 a new immigration from Bor Khamti took place. The Khamtis 
living about Sadiya and Saikwa are British ryots, and pay reve- 
nue. Those living on the Tengapc4ni beyond the Inner Line acknow- 
ledge allegiance to the British Government, but pay no revenue. 
A small force of 24i men, known as the Khamti Volunteers, are em- 
ployed for the protection of the villages about Sadiya. They 
receive a trifling yearly pay from (jovernment, and have been 
supplied with muskets and ammunition. They patrol the paths to 
the north and east of Sadiya by which the Mishmis come down to 
that place. This force is gradually being abolished, and no new 
appointments are being made to replace losses by death, &c. The 
last census showed 3,040 Khamtis to be resident in Assam. 

227. The Phakials, or Pliake, are said to have left Mogaung for 
Assam about 17G0 A. D., immediately after the 

Phakials and lurungs. ^ ^ ^ "^ 

subjugation cf that province by Alomphra. 
Colonel Hannay tells us that, prior to their immigration into this 
province, they were resident on the banks of the Turungpani, and 
were thus apparently near neighboursof the Turungs. On reaching 
Assam, they at first settled on the banks of the Buri Dihing, whence 
they were brought by the Ahoms, and settled near Jorhdt. When the 
Burmese invaded Assam, they and other Shan tribes were ordered 
by the Burmese authorities to return to Mogaung, and they had 
got as far as their old settlement on the Buri Dihing when the 
province was taken by the British. 


Frontier Their lancruasje closely resembles that of the other northern 

Relations. o o ./ 

Shuns. Like the Khamtis and Turungs, they are Buddhists. They 
seldom marry outside their own community ; and, as this is very 
small, their physique is said to be deteriorating. They are adepts 
in the art of dyeing. The total strength of the Phakidls is only 
565 ; all of whom are found in the Sadr subdivision of the Lakhim- 
pur district. 

The Turungs immigrated into the province less than seventy 
years ago. Their own tradition is that they originally came from 
Mungmang Khaosang on the north-east of Upper Burma, and set- 
tled on the Turungpani, whence the name by which they are now 
known. While there, they received an invitation from the Noras, 
who had preceded them and settled near Jorhat, and in conse- 
quence they started across the Patkoi en route for the Brahmaputra 
Valley. They were, however, taken prisoners by the Singphos 
and made to work as slaves, in which condition they remained for 
five years. They were released by Captain Neufville, along with 
nearly 6,000 Assamese slaves, in 1825, and continued their journey 
to the Jorhat subdivision, where they are still settled. 

228- The Singphos, who live intermixed with the Khamtis on 
the New and Old Dihings, the Tenojapani, 

Singphos. . ° . » i ' 

and themountams beyond, are, like the latter, 
but an outlier of the main population of the same race who occupy 
in force the hilly country between the Patkoi and Chindwin river, 
where they are nominally subject to Burma. To the Burmese they 
are known as Ralchye7ift, and Shigpho is but the word in their lan- 
guage meaning " man." They are, apparently, from what is known 
of their language, related to the Nfiga tribes in their neighbour- 
hood, to whom, however, they stand distinctly in the position of 
masters and superiors ; where brought in contact with the 
Khamtis they have borrowed something of the civilisation and out- 
ward appearance of the latter, and have also in some cases been 
converted to Buddhism. They are, however, probably quite 
distinct by race. 

The Singphos are recent arrivals in Assam, having made their 
appearance at the head of the valley during the troubles of Kdja 
Gaurindth Singh with the Moamarids about 1793. It was through 


their country that tlie Burmese invaders passed into Assam in 1818 Frontier 

*' ^, ^ Relations. 

and 1822 ; and the ravages of the Singphos, added to those of the 

Burmese, contributed greatly to the depopulation of the Matak 
country and Sibsagar. When Assam was conquered from tlie 
Burmese, the chiefs of the Singphos, after several engagements with 
our troops, tendered their allegiance, and entered into agreements 
not to disturb the peace of the frontier. Great numbers of Assamese 
slaves, who had been carried off by them in the early years 
of the century, were released, and the wealth and power of the 
tribe were in this manner much reduced. In 1839 they joined the 
Khamtis in their attack on Sadiya ; but by 1842 they had again 
been brought to acknowledge their subjection. Many of the 
Singpho immigrants, with whom agreements were made in 1826, 
have since retired across the frontier into Hukou"'. 

The Duaniiis, or Singpho-Assamese half-breeds (so called from 
the Assamese dudn = language, because they act as interpreters), 
are the offspring of the intercourse between these slaves and their 
captors. They are chiefly settled along the Buri or Old Dihing, 
and are quiet subjects. 

The now universal habit of opium-eating is believed to have con- 
tributed largely to the present quiet attitude of the Singphos and 
Khdmtis. The chiefs of these people meet annually at the full 
moon of Magh (in the end of January or beginning of February) 
at Sadiya to present themselves, with the chiefs of the Mishmi and 
Abor tribes, before the Political Officer, who receives their offerings, 
and gives them in return small presents. They pay no revenue 
except where settled within the Inner Line. 

229. The tribes known to the Assamese as Nagas stretch un- 
interruptedly from the P4tkoi alonor the south- 

Nagaa. . - , . . 

ern frontier of the Lakhimpur and Sibsagar 
districts, to the valley of the Dhansiri and North Cachar. Of the 
Nagasin the British district of the Naga Hills (the Angamis, Kacha 
Ncigas, Eengmas, Semas, Lhotas, and Aos) mention has already been 
made. Our relations with the remaining tribes are conducted 
through the Deputy Commissioners of Dibrugarh and Sibsagar. 
From the Tirdp river eastward to the Patkoi, the Nagas are com- 


Froxtier pietely in subjection to the Singplios, and are apparently a very 
quiet race. West of tliis point begins a succession of groups of 
villa"-es known to the Assamese by the names of the passes or Dudrs 
throuf^h which their inhabitants resort to the plains,— as the Ndm- 
sdm^ias, Bordudrias, Panidudrias, Mithonias, Banpheras, Jobokas, 
Bhitarndmsangias, Jdtungias, Tdblungias, Assiringias, etc. The 
outer tribes of this region are in constant communication with the 
plains, and in the times of the Assam Edjas used to make annual 
offerings of elephants' tusks and other such articles. They do a 
considerable trade in cotton and other hill produce, and carry back 
larcre quantities of salt and rice. The inner tribes, known to the 
Assamese as Abors, or wild men, are kept from access to the plains 
by these outer or Bori (subject, civihsed) Ndgas, who thus keep the 
carrying trade in their own hands. Besides, for purposes of trade, 
these outer Nagas come down in considerable numbers to labour in 
tea plantations and on roads during the cold weather. Unlike the 
Ano-amis, Semds, and Lhotds, who are intensely democratic in their 
social economy, many of the Eastern Ndgas appear to acknowledge 
the authority of Edjas and minor chiefs among themselves. 

With the internal affairs of these people we hardly meddle at 
all ; but they are prohibited from carrying their quarrels into the 
settled British territory, and, if they do so, are tried and punished 
by our courts. On this frontier, a system prevails by which 
the Na""as of each group have allotted to them certain Assamese 
a^^ents, called kotokis, who manage small plots of revenue-free land 
called Nciga khdts, on behalf of the tribes. When the attendance 
of the chiefs in the hills is required for any purpose, they are sum- 
moned through these kotokis. If satisfaction for robberies and 
other outrages is not in this way obtained, theDudr or pass through 
which the tribe visits the plains is blocked, and no one is allowed to 
come down or go up. This system has rarely failed to secure 
reparation : and, on the whole, the conduct of the Ndgas on this 
frontier, when left to themselves, has been peaceable and quiet, 
so far as the settled lands of the plains are concerned. Among 
themselves, however, their feuds are incessant, and are only com- 
posed to break out anew. The easternmost tribes of Bordudrias 


and Ndmsdnofias have thus been prosecutmf^r a quarrel for over fifty Frontier 

,. ,. ii-iiir Relations. 

years, each group taking, when it can, the hves and heads of some 
of the others. With these feuds it has not been our pohcy to 
meddle, though attempts have occasionally been made to mediate 
between contending tribes. 

The Nciga country up to the Ptitkoi range is nominally British 
territory by inheritance from the rulers of Assam and by our trea- 
ties with Burma. It has from time to time been explored by survey 
parties, and on one of these occasions, in February 1875, a party sent 
into the hills south of Jaipur was treacherously attacked at Ninu, 
a village four marches from the plains up the valley of the Disang, 
and Lieutenant Holcombe, the Assistant Commissioner accompany- 
ing the party, with eighty coolies and followers, was killed. Captain 
Badgley, the survey officer, and fifty others being wounded. This 
was followed by a punitive expedition, by which the villages which 
took part in the massacre were attacked and destroyed. During 
the same season the survey party in the western Naga Hills was 
attacked by Ndgas ; and in December 1875 Captain Butler, the 
Political Agent, who was accompanying the survey party, was 
again attacked near the Lhota Niiga village of Pangti, and received 
a wound of which he died a few days later. The village was at 
once destroyed by the force which accompanied the survey 

230. Passing by the British district of the Naga Hills and 

Manipur already described, we come to 

the country of the Lushai Kukis lying south 
of Cachar. 

From the earliest period of which we have any knowledge, the 

hills lying to the south of Manipur, Cachar, and eastern Sylliet 

have been inhabited by various tribes known to the Bengalis by 

the common name of Kukis. These tribes have always, so far 

as we know, been divided into numerous families, each family 

acknowledging a chief or ruling house, and these houses being 

generally engaged in warfare with one another. Each village had 

its chief, whose object it was to extend the fame and power of his 

village by fighting with his neighbours. As among the Garos and 

2 G 


Frostier otlier wild tribes ill tilis part of India, the gathering of heads was 
ELATioNs. ^j^^ QJ^ject of many of these attacks and of raids upon the adjacent 
plains. During the weak rule of the last E^jas of Cachar, the 
valleys in the south of that district were almost depopulated by 
attacks from these hillmen, and at the same time the district began 
to be invaded by refugee bodies of Kukis who had been driven out 
of their own country by more powerful chiefs, and sought protection 
from the rulers of Cachar. Many of these communities settled 
across the Bardil in North Cachar, where they were comparatively 
safe from pursuit. Those who settled in the southern hills were 
often followed up by their conquerors and massacred. The older 
immigrants of this period (none of whom probably date from before 
the beginning of the present century) are known to the Kacharis 
as " old Kukis," those who have immigrated since British rule 
began being called the " new Kukis." Govind Chandra is said to 
have employed Kukis in his contest with Tulardm Senapati, and 
this no doubt increased their numbers in North Cachar. 

The Kuki families whose feuds first attracted most attention, 
and from whose raids we suffered during the first years of British 
rule, were the Tldngams, Changsels, Thadois, and Poitus. The 
Lushais* were not heard of until about 1840, when they made their 
appearance on the Chattachura range, from which they were 
driving the Poitus. Their chiefs are all descendants of Chunglunga, 
whose successor, Lallula, had four sons, — Lalpuilena, Lalienvunga, 
Mangpor, and Vuta. The descendants of the first mentioned are 
the Eastern chiefs, of whom Lengkdm, LtUbura, and Poiboi are 
names of note in our recent relations with the Lushais. Of the 
descendants of Ldlienvunga, Lulhai may be mentioned ; of Vuta- 
Laleya and of Mang^por-Lenkhunga, Khiilkam, Lengpunga, 
Thdnruma, Ldlrima, and Thdngula, all of whom, with the excep- 

* Liisliai is said to be derived from Z2i=head ands7ia = cut. This name is not 
known to the people so designated, who are paid to call themselves Zlto. This name is 
haid to "include all tlic liill tribes of this region who wear their hair in a knot resting on 
the napo of the neck. The tribes further south and east are distinguished under the 
generic title of Poi ; these wear the hair knotted upon the temple." Between the Lushais 
wuil the Puis are the Howlongs and the Kamhows, and cast of the Pois are the Suktes. 


tion of the last mentioned, are sons or grandsons of Sukpildl, wlio Frontier 

*^ Relations. 

died in 1880, and wlio at the time of his death was ruler over the 

whole of the Western Lushais. 

The hrst atttacks upon British territory made by the Lushais 
after their advance northwards were in November 1849, when 
almost at the same time a party of woodcutters was massacred, a 
village of Tipperas was burnt, and another village was plundered, 
in the Singla valley in Sylhet, west of the Chdttachura range, and 
an attack was made by Mora, son of Ldlienvunga, on three villages 
of refuofee Thadoi Kukis within ten miles of the station of Silchar. 
To punish these outrages, the first expedition was led against the 
Lushais by Colonel Lister, who in January 1850 surprised and 
destroyed Mora's village, situated a little way south of the great 
peak of Nisapwi, between the Dhaleswari and the Sonai rivers. 
This expedition secured peace for many years. The Lushais 
gradually withdrew their advanced posts southwards, and we 
ceased to have much communication with, or information about, 
them. A raid was committed in 1862 on Hill Tippera and South 
Sylhet near Adampur, which two years later was discovered to 
have been perpetrated by Sukpihil ; but this was followed only by 
negotiations. A meeting was held between the Deputy Commis- 
sioner of Cachar and Sukpilal's agents, and it was arranged that 
the captives taken should be surrendered, and that Sukpildl should 
receive an allowance for keeping the peace of the frontier. A 
similar arrangement was made with Vonpilal, son of Mora. But, 
although four of the captives were surrendered, these arrange- 
ments were never actually carried much further. In November 
1868 the Eastern Lushais began a series of attacks on Manipur. 
In December of the same year Sukpihil carried his feuds with the 
Poitus into Sylhet, In January 1869 the tea garden of Nodrbdnd 
in Cachar was plundered and burned, several coolies being killed, 
by Ldlruma, son of Ldlpunga and brother of Poiboi. On the 14th 
January, Diintdu, son of Vonolel and brother of Lengkdm and 
Ldlbura, attacked the garden of Monierkhdl, which he burned and 
plundered. In February a combined attack was made upon the 
Kala Naga stockade in Manipur. It was determined to punish 


RelSoks ^^'"^^^ outrages by an expedition, one portion of which was to go 
up the Dhaleswari river to attack Sukpilal, and another up the 
Sonai, while a Manipuri force was to march south and join the 
second. The season, however, was too late for effective measures, 
and the expedition was practically a failure. Emboldened by this 
result, a new series of attacks was planned by the Lushais in the 
cold weather of 1870-71. A new family now appeared on the 
scene. While the Eastern Lushais of the family of Yonolel 
(Ldlbura and Lengkdm, his sons, and his nephew Thondong) led 
an attack on the Monierkhdl stockade, the Benc^ali villao^e of 
Nagdirgrdm, and the Ndgas in Manipur, the Howlongs of Lalpitang's 
house, who dwell south of Sukpildl's Lushais, and the western 
Poitu Kukis raided down the Hailakdndi valley, and attacked the 
tea garden of Alexandrapur, where they killed a number of coolies 
and the manager, Mr Winchester, and carried off his daughter 
and several other captives, besides much plunder. A subsequent 
attack on a neighbouring garden, Katlacherra, was repulsed. 
Upon this it was determined to send a thoroughly effective expedi 
tion to march through the hills and exact reparation. Two 
columns were despatched in the cold weather of 1871-72, one from 
the Chittagong side, which marched northwards through the 
country of the Sylus and Howlongs and recovered the captives 
taken from Alexandrapur ; and the other, which advanced, vid 
Tipaimukh, southwards into the country of Vonolel and his sons. 
This expedition was completely successful in procuring the sub- 
mission of the chiefs and satisfaction for the outrages ; and from 
its termination down to 1892, no raid was made on territory under 
the Assam Administration. 

In 1889, however, a raid was made in the Chengri valley on 
the Chittagong frontier, and a number of captives were taken, 
whom the chiefs concerned (Lengpunga and his brother Zarok) 
declined to release, and an expedition w^as accordingly undertaken 
in the cold weather of 1889-90. The main column marched 
through the Lushai Hills from Chittagong, and were met by a 
detachment of 400 Military Police from Silchar. The captives 
were surrendered, but Lengpunga escaped for the time. His 



village was burnt, and tlie troops then left the country. Previous Frontier 
to this raid, the pohcy of Government since 1872 had been to ^^^^^ions. 
maintain a line of outposts connected by patrol paths, and, while 
cultivating, as much as possible, a friendly intercourse with the 
chiefs, to abstain from interfering in their internal affairs. It 
was now decided to endeavour to put down raids once for all by 
'proving our power to occupy their country and estabhshing military 
outposts in their midst. Two such outposts (at Aijal andChangsil) 
with a garrison of Mihtary Police were estabUshed in the portion 
of the Lushai Hills bordering on the Cachar district, and Captain 
Browne was deputed thither as Political Officer. For a time, the 
Lushais appeared to have accepted the situation, and, amongst 
other proofs of friendship, the leading chiefs attended a darbdr 
held by Captain Browne, and killed a metna and swore an oath of 
friendship to the British Government. But the hopes thus raised 
were soon dissipated. Suddenly, without a word of warning, they 
rose in a body, attacked simultaneously the stockades at Aijal and 
Changsil, and killed Captain Browne, who was marching from 
Saireng to Changsil with a small escort of four sepoys. This was 
on the 10th September 1890, Three daj'-s later a relieving force 
of 200 Military Police left Silchar under Lieutenants Swinton and 
Tytler. Lieutenant Swinton was killed on the passage up the 
river Dhaleswari, whereupon Lieutenant Tytler assumed command, 
and reached Changsil and relieved the garrison under Lieutenant 
Cole, on the 28th September. The force at Changsil was further 
augmented by a detachment of 200 men of the 40tli Bengal In- 
fantry under Lieutenant Watson, who arrived at Changsil on the 
30th. Mr. McCabe, who had been deputed to Cachar on special 
duty, reached Changsil on the 5th October 1890, and on his arrival 
offensive operations were at once commenced, with such success that 
within two months all but one of the Western Lushai chiefs had been 
arrested. The three ringleaders, Khjilkdm, Lengpunga, and Thdn- 
gula, were deported, and the others were released on payment of the 
fines imposed on them, A few months later Khalkdm and Lengpunga 
put an end to their existence by hanging themselves with ropes, 
which they had surreptitiously manufactured from their clothes. 


Frontier These ox3erations resulted in the complete pacification of the 
ELATioNs. 2^Qj.^]^Qj,jj Lushai villages west of the Sonai river and the uncondi- 
tional surrender of all the chiefs implicated in the rising, with the 
exception of Thdnruma, who fled for refuge towards the east, and 
who is still at large. At the commencement of 1891, the Lushais 
were peacefully employed in jhihning and in rebuilding their 
villages, many of which had been destroyed by our troops as a * 
punishment. The feeling of insecurity which our operations had 
occasioned was beginning to wear off, and Lushais came readily 
to trade at the newly reopened bdzdr at Changsil and to barter 
vegetables and live stock with the garrison of Fort Aijal, Ee- 
quisitions for the supply of coolies to woik on roads and carry 
stores and baggage, &c., were promptly complied with by all the 
chiefs so requisitioned except Ldlbura, in consequence of whose 
non-compliance, Mr. McCabe, with an escort of 100 Military Police 
under. Lieutenant T^^tler, marched to his village, where he halted 
for the night. Next day, as Lalbura refused to come in, Mr. 
McCabe commenced collecting supplies and making other arrange- 
ments for halting in the village. Shortly afterwards 300 armed 
Lushais were observed to advance towards the north crest of the 
hill commanding his camp. The Political Officer promptly ordered 
them to be fired on, and at once commenced to make dispositions 
for the defence of the camp. Before they could be completed, 
however, the Lushais attacked the camp from all directions, and 
set fire to the village. They were driven ofi, and the fortification 
of the camp was then proceeded with. Stores of paddy were 
collected from the jungle where they had been hidden by the 
Lushais ; a bridle path from Aijal to the Sonai was pushed on with 
great rapidity ; and a reinforcement of 100 Military Police was at 
once sent to Mr. McCabe's assistance from Aijal. The fact was 
recognised that it would be impossible to undertake punitive 
measures in a satisfactory way with the small force then available, 
and it was therefore decided to bring up 300 men of the 18th 
Bengal Infantry from Silchar to hold Aijal and Changsil, and thus 
enable the whole of the Military Police stationed at those places 
to join the force with Mr. McCabe. In the meantime, skirmishing 


parties were sent out daily to disperse the Lushais in the neighbour- ^^^^'^^^^^_ 
hood of the camp, and search for further stores of paddy. The 
Lushais soon found that it was hopeless to try to take the camp, 
and confined themselves to ambuscading small parties. 

Encpiries showed that Ldlbura was assisted in his rising by all 
the Lushais east of the Sonai, and also probably by the Howlongs ; 
but that the Western Lushais had profited by the lesson taught 
them in the previous year, and had stood aloof. The attack at 
Ldlbura took place on 1st March 1892. On the 10th April, the 
punitive force, consisting of 225 men of the Military Police and 
75 of the 18tli Bengal Infantry under Captain Loch, left Aijal. 
Ldlruya, Poiboi, Ldlhai, Bungteya, Maite, and other villages were 
occupied in turn, and all the chiefs submitted, except Ldlbura, 
who fled, accompanied by only twenty followers, to the impenetrable 
jungles on the Manipur frontier. These operations were followed 
by the complete submission of the Eastern Lushais, who now, like 
the Lushais west of the Sonai, appear at last to have recognised 
that it is far better to submit willingly to our rule than to sufier 
the inevitable consequences of fighting against it. 

In the course of these operations, the inconvenience of dividing 
the Lushai country amongst three Administrations — Assam, Bengal, 
and Burma — was found to be considerable. It has now been 
settled that the portion administered from Bengal will shortly be 
made over to Assam. The Burma portion will, however, for»the 
present at least, continue to be under the control of the Chief 
Commissioner of Burma. 

231. With the State of Hill Tippera this Administration has 
no direct relations ; all communications for 

Hill Tippera. i-»rirf r- t -i ■, ■, -, 

the Mahardja are forwarded through the 
Government of Bengal. The State is conterminous with Sylhet, 
along the whole of the southern border of that district, and con- 
siderable intercourse takes place up and down the valleys of the rivers 
which flow northwards from the Tippera Hills. The Mahdrdja's 
boundary was laid down on this side by a joint Commission in 
1865-66. The Mahdrdja is the zeminddr of considerable estates in 
Sylhet, and is to that extent subject to our revenue jurisdiction. 


Froxtier 030 111 the precedinsj parai^raplis reference has been made to 

the " Inner Line." This expression denotes a 

The Inner Line. ^ , , . , . ^ . • 

boundary which, m accordance with the 
poHcy to which eHect was given by Kegulation V of 1873, has 
been laid down in certain districts as that up to which the protec- 
tion of British authority is guaranteed, and beyond which^ except 
by special permission, it is not lawful for British subjects to go. 
The Inner Line Eegulation was the result of much correspondence 
between the Government of Bengal and that of India on the subject 
of frontier policy. It was believed that many complications were 
caused by permitting persons from the plains to penetrate into the 
hills or submontane forests inhabited or frequented by wild tribes, 
where no eflective protection could be given by Government, and 
where disputes relating to buying and selling frequently occurred. 
At the time the Eegulation was passed, the great demand and 
competition for India-rubber brought down by the hillmen gave 
special prominence to these considerations : and it was decided 
that the best way to prevent these complications was to stop, as far 
as possible, the access of strangers to tracts where adequate control 
could not be exercised. An Inner Line has been laid down in the 
following districts : — In Darrang, towards the Bhutias, Akas, and 
Daflas ; in Lakhimpur, towards the Daflas, Miris, Abors, Mishmis, 
Khdmtis, Singphos, and Ndgas ; in SibsAgar, towards the southern 
Ndgas ; and in Cachar, towards the Lushais. The line is marked 
at intervals by frontier posts, held by Military Police or troops, 
and commanding the roads of access to the tract beyond ; and 
any person from the plains who has received permission to cross 
the line has to present his pass at -these posts. At the close of 
1892-93 there were 5 such outposts in the Darrang district, 4 of 
which were manned by detachments of the Military Police and the 
other by troops ; 13 garrisoned by Military Police in the Lakhim- 
pur district ; one at Abhaypur in Sibsdgar garrisoned by Military 
Police ; and 7 in Cachar, all held by troops. 


MAR 9 5 ^^l 



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