GEO POLITICAL HISTORY

GEO POLITICAL HISTORY

The modern Assam is geographically located between latitudes 28° 18′ and 24° North and longitudes 89° 46′ and 94° 4′ East. The uneven topography of Assam consists of both hills and plains, rivers and valleys. The two main river valleys are – the Brahmaputra valley, which is traversed by the Brahmaputra river from east to west and is intersected in the valley by its tributaries; and the Surma valley or Barak valley, which is crossed by the river Surma from east to west in the southern part of the land and have intersected by its tributaries.

The first known dynasty was the Barman dynasty till 650 AD when the land was known as Kamrup. After the demise of great king Bhaskarbarman, multiple dynasties ruled different parts of the state till 12th century like Mlecha dynasty, Pala dynasty, Chutiya dynasty etc. In 1228, Sukaphaa, a Tai prince from Mongo Mao entered Assam and that was the beginning of the Ahom dynasty, arguably the longest lasting dynasty in North East India. During this period another political power house Koch dynasty evolved in the western part of the state and flourished under the leadership of King Nara Narayan and commander Chilarai (brother of Nara Narayan). Srimanta Sankardeva, the great saint scholar and socio-religious reformer of Assam started Eksaran Naam Dharma (a Neo Vaishnavite movement) and had to move out of the Ahom kingdom to the Koch kingdom.

Map of Assam in 1936

The concept of modern Assam started after the Burmese invasion of Assam which started in 1817. In 1822 after the third Burmese invasion, Mingimaha Tilwa was declared the king of Assam. Till then British occupied all of modern Indian territory except North East and were headquartered in Calcutta ( now Kolkata). British supported the ousted rebels of Manipur and Assam and the Anglo Burmese war broke out in 1824 which resulted in the Yandaboo Treaty. As per the Yandaboo Treaty of 1826, the King of Ava handed over Assam and its dependencies, Manipur and the British conquered Provinces of Arracan.

The British thus became the ruler of Brahmaputra Valley and they began to consolidate their rule in Assam. In 1830, the Kachari king Govinda Chandra was assassinated. Seizing this opportunity, the British annexed Kachari kingdom in 1832.

In 1833, the Ahom prince Purandar Singha was made a tributary ruler in Upper Assam. But owing to mismanagement and failure to pay regular revenue, the British authorities annexed his kingdom in 1838. In 1835, the kingdom of Jaintia was also annexed. In 1842, the region of Matak and Sadiya was also annexed by British authorities, and in 1854, the North Cachar Hill district, under Tularam Senapati’s administration, was also annexed into the British Empire, thereby completing their conquest and consolidation of their rule in Assam. During this period British included undivided Assam into the Bengal Presidency and Bengali was declared as the language of the land. In 1874, Assam, including Sylhet, was separated from Bengal and it was upgraded to a Chief Commissioner’s Province and Assamese language was reinstated in the land as the official language. In 1906 Bengal was partitioned and East Bengal was added to the Chief Commissioner’s Province. The new region, now ruled by a Lt. Governor, had its capital at Dhaka and summer capital at Shillong. This province had a 15-member legislative council in which Assam had two seats. During this period the immigrant population from East Bengal increased four times to Brahmaputra and Barak valley which continued even after independence. In 1912, The administration was reverted to Chief Commissioner’s Province (Assam plus Sylhet), with an added Legislative Council of 25 members. In 1919, Government of India Act was passed by the British Parliament and the Assam Legislative Council membership was increased to 53. Again under the revised Government of India Act of 1935, the Council was expanded into an Assembly of 108 members, with even more powers. In July 1947, with Sylhet referendum, Sylhet (excluding Karimganj) was separated from Assam and included in East Bengal joining Pakistan after independence. In 1963, Nagaland was carved out of Assam as a separate state. In 1970, Meghalaya and in 1972, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh were carved out of Assam.

Map of Assam in 1936