BARPETA, Dec 27 – The people of the eastern part of Barpeta district have intensified their longstanding demand for a subdivision with headquarters at Sarthebari which they have been reiterating since 1970. They have begun talks on the possible steps to be taken for the fulfillment of their demand and constituted a Subdivision Demand Committee with Dr Krishnaballav Deka as president and Banikanta Bhuya as working president.
The Subdivision Demand Committee has submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Barpeta and the Revenue Minister of the State Dr Bhumidhar Barman who is also the chairman of the subcommittee constituted by the State Government to look into the formation of the new subdivisions in the State. The demand committee has also chalked out a series of agitational programmes to pressurise the Government for the fulfillment of their demand.
The memorandum states that the eastern part of the Barpeta district is a historically famous place. Name of each village in this area connotes a historical significance. According to some historians and sociologists, these areas are as old as the mighty Brahmaputra. It is said that present Sarthebari and Nasatra were the older Surathpur and Phulbari. It is also known that emperor of then Kamrup presented Kanch Patra (beautiful belmetal utensils) made by the artisans of Sarthebari to his counterpart in Kanouj as a symbol of friendship and fraternity. Ahom King Gadadhar Singha took shelter at Palla Satra to save his live from the atrocities of Lararaja.
Great Vaishnavite saints and their disciples visited these areas and established several satras. The number of satras and thans established by these saints in this area will exceed fifty. According to the Kathaguru Charita, this area was a separate geographical and administrative entity prior to the British invasion which was known as Kshetri Bilayat Paragana.
People of Kshetri area fought bravely against the decision of the British rulers to enhance the land revenue and organised mass movement in this locality. The revolution against the British led by Pushpa Kahar in 1894 at Panagaortup (Lachima) is known as Raijmel. This area also produced a number of heroes who participated in the freedom movement of the country led by Mahatma Gandhi.
This area is also famous for its literary and artistic works since time immemorial. Brass metal works of Sarthebari, Belmetal industry at Baniyakuchi, ceramic art at Chinadi etc not only illustrates the artistic mind of the people of the locality but also development of the industrial and economic condition in the middle ages and pre-independence era of India. Very much rich in folk literature and folk culture, this area was enriched by the literary works of the Vashnavite saints. Contribution of of this area to the granary of Assamese literature right from the ages of Bhattadev to the modern literateurs like Haliram Deka, Kohiram Deka is in no way negligible.
Giving details of the prospect and rationale behind the formation of a new subdivision, the memorandum states that there are 131 villages in the proposed area with 3.30 lakh population covering a surface area of almost 2 lakh bighas of land. The distance from the district headquarter Barpeta to Sarthebari is 30 kilometres. Revenue collection from this area much higher than some ather areas of the district. Apart from land revenue notified fisheries such as Kapala, Tabha, Ablakhowa, Barkana, Salmara, Kaldia,Tihu etc has contributed a large sum to the government coffers. The bel metal industry and brass metal industry scattered in this locality has established trade relation with the neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal and and has been able to earn foreign revenues. It has also played a pivotal role in earning tax and non-tax revenue to the government.
From the study of the formation of the subdivisions in the State, it has been observed that the government has constituted a number of subdivisions in the State with less geographical, economical and demographic importance than the proposed area. But due to the reasons best known to the Government in Dispur this area has been neglected year after year. Demand for a subdivision is not at all new. It has been raised since forty years back. People of Sarthebari deposed before the Kohli Commission constituted for this purpose way back in 1970. They submitted a memorandum to the Government to this effect on the March 25, 1986.
Legitimacy of the demand was reiterated before the Kamal Majumdar Commission the then commissioner of Lower Assam in 1987. The demand was intensified in 1997 and it was raised on the floor of the Assembly also.