Barak Valley

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Barak Valley

The Barak Valley[1] (Ishan Banga) is a valley located in the southern region of the Indian state of Assam. The main city of the valley is Silchar. The region is named after the Barak river. The Barak valley mainly consists of three administrative districts of Assam State - namely Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi. Among these three districts, Cachar belonged to the Kachari Kingdom before the British Raj, whereas Karimganj and Hailakandi belonged to the Sylhet district of then Assam province. Karimganj was separated from Sylhet after the 1947 referendum; with the rest of Sylhet falling under East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and Karimganj under India.


The name "Barak" has derived from the Dimasa words 'Bra' & 'Kro'. Bra means bifurcation and Kro upper portion/stream. The river Barak is bifurcated near Haritikar in the Karimganj district into Surma River and Kushiyara River. The upstream of this bifurcated river was called Brakro by the local Dimasa people. Over the years, Brakro got converted into Barak.[2]



The official language of the Barak Valley is Bengali. The people are of largely Bengali descent and a majority speak Sylheti language.


Hinduism is the majority religion in the Barak Valley. According to the 2011, the religious composition of the valley population is as follows: Hindus 50.1% (1,812,141), Muslims 48.1% (1,744,958), Christians 1.6% (58,675), and others 0.2%. Hindus are the majority in Cachar district (59.83%), while Muslims are the majority in Hailakandi district (60.31%) and Karimganj district (56.26%).[3]


Barak Valley is the majority of Bengalis, Dimasas, Manipuris (Both Bishnupriya and Meitei, Rongmei Nagas, and tea garden labourers) and the Hmar groups. Of the three districts, Hailakandi District and Karimganj District have Muslim majority while Cachar have Hindu majority.


The region was originally part of the Tripura kingdom, which was annexed by Chilarai in the 16th-century to the Koch kingdom and administered by his half-brother Kamalnarayan. After the death of Nara Narayan, the kingdom, which came to be called the kingdom of Khaspur, became independent and was ruled by the descendants of Kamalnarayan. In the 17th-century, the last Koch ruler's daughter married the king of the Kachari kingdom, and the rule of Khaspur passed into the hands of the Kachari rulers, who eventually moved their capital from Maibang to Khaspur. The Kachari kingdom was annexed to British-India in 1832.

However, the dominance of Mughal Empire in Karimganj and Hailakandi finally ended with the introduction of British rule in Bengal. The undivided Cachar district (which also includes presently known as Hailakandi district) was included to Assam by British Rulers in 1832. The headquarters of the district was Silchar. The British Companies established a very large number of Tea Gardens (total 157) in the area and Silchar emerged as a very important center in this part of the country. All modern were introduced to the region in early twentieth century.

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

Assam's Surma Valley (now partly in Bangladesh) had Muslim-majority population. On the eve of partition, hectic activities intensified by the Muslim League as well Congress with the former having an edge. A referendum had been proposed for Sylhet District. Mazumdar along with Basanta Kumar Das (then Home Minister of Assam) travelled throughout the valley organising the Congress and addressing meetings educating the masses about the outcome of partition on the basis of religion.[5] On 20 February 1947 Moulvi Mazumdar inaugurated a convention – Assam Nationalist Muslim's Convention at Silchar. Thereafter another big meeting was held at Silchar on 8 June 1947.[6] Both the meetings, which were attended by a large section of Muslims paid dividend. He was also among the few who were instrumental in retaining the Barak Valley region of Assam, especially Karimganj with India.[7][8] Mazumdar was the leader of the delegation that pleaded before the Radcliffe Commission that ensured that a part of Sylhet (now in Bangladesh) remains with India despite being Muslim-majority (present Karimganj district).[9][10] Arun Kumar Chanda did not join Bordoloi cabinet in 1946 but preferred to do social work as a legislator and also to uplift the premier educational institution, G.C. College. Unfortunately he soon died, leaving a huge vacuum of an able Bengali Hindu leader with a secular bent of mind.

Post 1947[edit]

The entire eastern India was swept by violence just after India's partition and independence on 15 August 1947, scores of Hindus fled the newly created East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) for India, and Muslims fled Assam for East Pakistan. A large number of people lost their lives owing to violence, which resurfaced with more ferocity in 1950. Mazumdar, the only member from the present Barak Valley in the cabinet, along with his cabinet and party colleagues took up responsibility for the safety of both Hindus and Muslims in the valley, touring affected areas and arranging camps and rehabilitation for the refugees, organizing supplies and security.

In 1960s a prominent figure in Barak valley politics came in the form of Moinul Hoque Choudhury, who was a cabinet minister in Assam from 1957 to 1966. In 1971 he became the Industry minister of India under the Prime Ministership of late Indira Gandhi.

Assam police resort to lathicharge on the satyagrahis at the Tarapur railway station.

Vegetation and wild life[edit]

The vegetation in the valley is mostly Tropical evergreen and there are large tracts of Rainforests in the northern and southern-eastern parts of the valley, which are home to Tiger, Elephants, Malayan sun bear, Capped langur, hoolock gibbon, etc. The forests of Barak valley were once rich in wildlife but now vanishing due to human onslaught. Rare species found are Hoolock gibbon, Phayre's leaf monkey, Pig-tailed macaque, Stump-tailed macaque, Masked Finfoot, White-winged Wood Duck, etc. have been recorded.

The Asian elephant has already vanished from most of the valley.[11][12] The southern part was also recommended as 'Dhaleswari' wildlife sanctuary.[13] Barail is the only wildlife sanctuary of the Barak valley region. It was initiated by noted naturalist Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury, who originally hailed from this region in early 1980s.[14] This sanctuary was ultimately notified in 2004. Hailakandi have Inner line reserve forest and Katakhal reserve forest.[15] Jute is important crop of Barak vally

Important crop: the most important crop of Barak valley is Jute.


Barak Valley has two Lok Sabha seats.

Transportation and Communication[edit]

Means of transportation are as follows.


The only airport of the whole valley is the Silchar Airport, located at Kumbhirgram. There are regular direct flights from Kolkata, Imphal, Delhi and Guwahati to Silchar.


Barak Valley is covered by the Northeast Frontier Railways. The Valley is only connected to Lumding Jn. (central Assam) through single route Board gauge rail-line. The distance of 170 km . Currently there are a number trains operational in this route:

Trains originating from Silchar are:

  • Silchar-Guwahati Fast Passenger
  • Silchar-Guwahati Fast Passenger Special
  • Kanchenjunga Express (Silchar-Sealdah)
  • Poorvottr Sampark Kranti Express (Silchar- New Delhi)

Trains originating from Agartala:

  • Kanchenjunga Express (Agartala-Sealdah)
  • Tripura Sundari Express (Agartala-Anand Vihar )
  • Agartala Rajdhani Express (Agartala-Anand Vihar)

Other trains are running Within the valley and Tripura are:

  • Silchar-Dhamanagar Passenger (via Karimganj and Badarpur) {Daily}
  • Silchar-Agartala Passenger (via Badarpur and Karimganj)
  • Silchar- Mahishasan Passenger (via Badarpur and Karimganj)
  • Silchar- Bhairobi Passenger.


The Barak Valley is connected to the rest of India and the capital city only through National Highway 6 (India), which passes through the Indian state of Meghalaya.

Private as well as ASTC buses are operational, connecting Barak Valley to Haflong, Guwahati, Shillong, Aizawl, Imphal and Agartala.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ (Tunga 1995, p. 1)
  2. ^ Barman Saroj Kr.(1995):Reminiscence Of The Past.Silchar:Kasturi Barman
  3. ^ Indian Census[not in citation given] Archived 14 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Ray, Niharranjan (1980-01-01). Bangalir itihas (in Bengali). Paschimbanga Samiti. 
  5. ^ Chowdhury, Dewan Nurul Anwar Husain. "Sylhet Referendum, 1947". Banglapedia. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  6. ^ Bhattacharjee, J. B. (1977). Cachar under British Rule in North East India. Radiant Publishers, New Delhi.
  7. ^ Barua, D. C. (1990). Moulvi Matlib Mazumdar- as I knew him. Abdul Matlib Mazumdar – birth centenary tributes, pp. 8–9.
  8. ^ Purkayashta, M. (1990). Tyagi jananeta Abdul Matlib Mazumdar. The Prantiya Samachar (in Bengali). Silchar, India.
  9. ^ Roy, S. K. (1990). Jananeta Abdul Matlib Mazumdar (in Bengali). Abdul Matlib Mazumdar – birth centenary tributes, pp. 24–27.
  10. ^ "Assam Election Results - What does it mean for Bangladesh?". The Daily Star. 21 May 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  11. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (1999). Status and Conservation of the Asian elephant Elephas maximus in north-eastern India. Mammal Review 29(3): 141-173.
  12. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (2004). Vanishing habitat threatens Phayre’s leaf monkey. The Rhino Found. NE India Newsletter 6:32-33.
  13. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (1983). Plea for a new wildlife refuge in eastern India. Tigerpaper 10(4):12-15.
  14. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (1989). Campaign for wildlife protection:national park in the Barails. WWF-Quarterly No. 69,10(2): 4-5.
  15. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (2005). Amchang, Barail and Dihing-Patkai – Assam’s new wildlife sanctuaries. Oryx 39(2): 124-125.


External links[edit]

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