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Tripura, the land of History and Legends

MOHAMMEDAN PERIOD

ENGLISH PERIOD

It is Unnecessary to go through the detailed chronicles of the Rajmala until the first occasion of the Tripura Raj coming into hostile contact with the Mogal domination of Northern India which succeeded the Hindu Rulers. About 1270 AD Hindu Chodhuri passing through the Tripura Raj, on his way to the Court of the Mogal Subadar at Gour, Complained, that, he had been. robbed while passing through the Tripura Raj but had not been able to obtain justice at the hands of the Tripura Officials. The Subadar was only too glad to have an excuse for interfering and invaded Tripura with a large army but was repulsed.

Hari, the 97th Raja, had 18 sons of whom Ratna was though younger considered the most intelligent and was sent by his father to travel abroad and gain experience. He visited and resided at the Court of the Mogal Subadar during which stay the Raja Han died and an elder son ascended. Ratna asked Togral Khan, the Subadar of the Emperor Balban of Delhi, to help him gain the Raj. This request afforded the Subadar an excellent opportunity for retrieving the before mentioned defeat of the Mogal army. As Stewart relates on page 70 of his 'History of Bengal'.

In the year 678 Hijri (1279AD) he assembled a very numerous army and invaded the Country of Jajnagar. After having defeated the Rajah in a general engagement, he plundered the inhabitants, and brought away with him immense wealth and one hundred elephants. Why Tripura should have been called "Jajnagar" by the Mohomedans is not clear, though the historian Farishta mentions a 'Jajnagar' to the East of the Brahmaputra and perhaps meant Tripura.

RATNA (1279-1323) having by the help of the Mogal army, defeatÁd his brother had him beheaded and ascended the Royal Throne of Tripura as Raja in 1279AD. Having presented the Subadar with a valuable ruby the title of Manikya was bestowed on him. Manikya means a perfect ruby of a certain size and shape, and this title has been borne by the Rajas of Tripura ever since.

RATNA MANIKYA died in 1323 C. and was succeeded by his son PRATAP ANIKYA, who was defeated by Sultan Iliya Shah, the ruler of Bengal. Pratab Manikya was succeeded by his younger brother  MUKUT MOKUNDA who in turn was succeeded by his son MAHA MANIKYA who died in 1407 C. and was succeeded by his son.

DHARMA MANIKYA (1407-14580) Meanwhile Sultan Fakiruddin Sikandar having made himself independent of the Emperor of Delhi became king of Bengal and removed his seat of Government to Sonargaon, South of Dacca. Fakiruddin was taken prisoner by Ali Mobarak in Imperial Official after a short reign of 2 years and 5 months. Ali Mobarak was assassinated after I year and 5 months by his foster brother Haji, who took the title of Shamsuddin and made himself king of Bengal. After establishing his authority Shamsuddin invaded the dominions of the Raja of Tripura (Dharma Manikya) in 1483 C. and compelled him to pay a great sum of money and to give him a number of valuable elephants with which he returned in triumph to his Capital (Stewart Page 83). Dharma Manikya in turn attacked and defeated the king of Bengal, Sultan Ahmad Shah and plundered his Capital at Sonargaon. This Raja had the "Dharma Sagar" excavated at Comilla and reduced the great number of human sacrifices to a very small minimum. Dharma Manikya died in 1458.

An Interregnum occurred till 1490, when DHANYA MANIKYA (1490-1520) the brother of Pratap Manikya ascended the Royal Throne of Tripura. The Tripura Raj was at its Zenith during Dhanya Manikya's reign. In 1512 the Raja sent his General Chuchug Rai, to attack and captured the importent Mogal garrison at Chittagong or, as it was named by the Mogals, Islamabad (the Abode of the Faith), To avenge this disgrace Dhanya Manikya was attacked three times by the Mogals. Hussan Shah the King of Jaunpur, had contested the Empire with the Emperor Sultan Beloli and had, on being defeated, taken refuge at the court of Allauddin, King of Bengal. Hussan Shah was sent at the head of a vast army gathered from the 12 Provinces of Bengal to invade Tripura. He captured the fort at Meharkul, near Comilla, and proceeded up to Gumati River to attack the Capital at Udaipur. But the Tripuras dammed up the river at Sonamora, where the river debauches into the plains, and suddenly cutting the dyke at night, the Mogal encampment was swept away and most of the Soldiers drowned. Shortly after this thsastiious failure the Magals again invaded Tripura under Haitan Khan and attempted, to attack Udaipur but were similarly drowned by an artificial flood created in the narrow valley below Debtamora. A third invasion was defeated at Kasba.

Finding the Mogal horsemen such excellent cavalry and having none of his own, the Raja of Tripura engaged a large number of Mogal Sawars. When 1000 of them mutinied for arrears of pay and marched on Chittagong then a Tripura garrison, the mutineers were over taken and defeated and those of them captured alive were beheaded at the Temple of the Chaudadebta at Udipur. To avenge this wholesale sacrificial slaughter the Mogal King sent a force of 3000 Cavalry and 6000 Infantry, under Mahammad Khan. At first he was successful and the Tripuras lost their Commander, but shortly after the Mogals were defeated and the General captured. He too was sent in a cage to the Temple and sacrificed to the Chaudadevatas.

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 1. Hara or Siva, the Detroyer in the Hindu Trinity. 2. Uma or Durga the Consort of Siva. 3. Hari or Vishnu the preserver in the Hindu Trinity. 4, Ma or Lakshmi, the Consort of Vishnu and the goddess of prosperity. 5. Bani or Saraswati goddess of Knowledge. 6. Kumara or Kartikeya, the god of War and the Commander in-Chief of the gods. 7. Ganapa or Ganesha, god of Wisdom. 8. Bidhu or Chandra the Moon. 9. Ka or Brahma, the Creator in the Hindu Trinity. 10. Abdhi the god of the Ocean or Water. 11. Ganga, the most Sacred river of the Hindus. 12. Sekhi or Agni, the god of Fire. 13. Kama the god of love 14. Himadri, the Himalaya Mountains.

The images of these Chaturdas Devtas are made of Astadhatu, an alloy of the eight (Sacred) metals viz, gold, silver, lead, tin, copper, iron, antimony and zine. Originally the figures were about half life size, but now for some reason there are only the heads, with a portion of the neck. The sacrificial worship of these Devatas is duly maintained but goats are sacrificed now instead of human beings as in olden days. The Priests are a special class known as Chuntais and the Chief Chuntai, according to a very ancient custom, wears a golden sacred thread (Puida or janeo) and rules for 3 days in the year. This period is called the KER, during which he and his priests or Galims are supreme, now a days only symbolically.

Dhanya Manikya died in 1520 and was succeeded by his Son DEVA MANIKYA (1520-1535 c.) - This Raja was defeated at Islamabad (Chittagong) by the Mogals under Sultan Nasrath Shah. On Deva Manikya's death the Chuntai High Priest set up the late Raja's nephew, Panchkauri Thakur as INDRA MANIKYA, but both were killed by the Military Party within the year.

BIJAY MANIKYA (1535-1583) the son of Deb Manikya succeeded and was a powerful rular. He defeated the Mughs at Chittagong. He also regained what are now the British Districts of Sylhet, Tipperah and Noakhali. He also had a canal excavated between the Hills and Kasba, known as the Bejai Naddi. Collecting an army of 26,000 Infantry and 5,000 Cavalry the Raja crossed them over the Megna in, 5,000 boats to Sonargaon, the Mogal Capital of Bengal, but contented himself with laying waste the country. Crossing the Brahmaputra (then flowing in its old channel round the Garo Hills and through the modern district of Maimensing) into Sylhet. He had a large number of great tanks dug for the supply of good drinking water as an act of piety.

ANANTA MANIKYA (1583-1585) the son of Bijai Manikya declared war against the Mugh Raja Sikandar Shah (the Mugh Rulers gave themselves Mahammadan names) but was repulsed owin to the assistance of Portuguese gunners whom the Mugh Raja engaged. The Portuguese under the leadership of Sebastian gonsalez were mutinous sailors who killed their officers and going off with their ships and driving away the Mogal Fouzdar made their headquarters in the Island of Sandip, off the coasts of Chittagong and Noakhali at the head of the Bay of Bengal. Having built a fort and firmly established themselves, the Portuguese became Pirates and preyed upon the Coasts from the mouth of the Hugli river along the Sunderbans, the mouths of the Ganges, Megna, Feni, Karrafully and Naaf rivers and from thence Southwards along the coast of Aracan. Being excellent gunners and having armed Ship at their command these Portuguese took a large and deciding part in the politics and history of Eastern Bengal including Aracan They entered the service of the Mugh Rajas, then of the Rajas of Tripura fighting for the against these potentates and impartially plundering every trader they came across. The Raja of Tripura engaged 8 of these Portuguese Ganners and their debased descendants by low women of the country. Still inhabit Miriam Nagar, between Old and New Agartala.

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However to resume the history of Annanta Manikya. Having been repulsed by the Mugh Raja, Sikander Shah, Annanta Manikya sent a larger army under the command of his three sons. One of the Sons was killed by a wounded elephant and the Tripuras were repulsed. The Mughs followed up their victory marched on Rangamati and sacked the Capital Gopi Prasad the Tripura Commander-in-Chief strangled his son- in-law Annanta Manikya and set himself up as:-

UDAI MANIKYA (1585-1596) and changed the named of the capital from Rangamati to Udaipur, after himself, and it is still known by that name. He was succeeded by his son

JAI MANIKYA (1596-1597) and in turn was succeeded by the brother of Bijai Manikya named :-

AMAR MANIKYA (1597-1611) fought the Mughs and was defeated. The Mughs took Chittagong and plundered Udaipur. The Zaminder of Taraf in Syihet refused to supply labourers to dig tanks and was attacked by 12,000 Tripura troops, taken prisoner and brought in a cage to Udaipur. The great tank at lldaipur was excavated by this Raja and named aftr himself Aimr Sagar. He was succeeded by his son:-

RAJDHAR MANIKYA 1(1611-1613) - The Mogals attacked the Tripuras but were defeated. This Raja was accidentally drowned in the river Gumti on which Udaipur the Capital is situated.

JASADHAR MANIKYA (1613-1623) the son of Rajdhar Manikya I succeeded and was at constant war with the Mogals. The Emperor of Delhi Jahangir required his Generals to procure elephants and a large army of Mogals under Nawab Futteh Jung invaded Tripura in 1620. After long and severe fighting Jasadhar Manikya was defeated and taken captive and together with a large booty and numerous elephants was sent to the Emperor at Delhi. Here the Raja was offered his freedom and restoration on condititm of agreeing to paying an annual tribute of elephants. This the Raja declined and retired to Brindaban, where he died in his 72nd year, after having founded the Kunja of Rash Behari the Family God, and where the ashes (asti) of departed Tripura Rajas are buried to this day. Brindaban is peculiarly sacred to the followers of Vishnu, among whom the Rajas of Tripura rank very high. The descendants of Nityananda, whose name is associated with the great Vishnuvite. Revivalist Chaitanya, are settled at the Court of Tripura and are the Rajas gurus or Spiritual Guides.

Meanwhile the Raj was wasted by the Mogals and Sarkar Udiapur was formed and governed by Mogal Governors between 1623-1625 during which there was an Interregnum. It should be noted that, to avoid the attacks of the Portuguese Pirates, who sailed up the great Megna river the Mogals had moved their Capital or seat of the Subadar from Sonargaon to Dacca, situated on the Buriganga a narrower and Shallower river than the mighty Megna on which Sonargaon was situated. Sebastian GonsaJez the leader of the Pirates and founder of their fortified settlement in the Island of Sandip, had married a daughter of the Mugh Raja of Aracan and driven out the Mogal Fouzder from Sandip. This naturally enraged the Mogal Subadar and he determined to crush the Portuguese and punish all the Rajas who had either employed or sheltered them. Hence the fierce onslaught on Tripura and ultimate defeat and captivity of Jasadhar Manikya. Another and more frequent reason for invading Tripura was that the Emperor of Delhi required a great and regular supply of elephants for State and war purposes and the Hills of Tripura abounding then as now with great numbers of these animals, tempted the frequents Mogal invasions and demands for them as tribute.

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ENGLISH PERIOD

 ON the 20th January 1761 Governor Vansitt art wrote from Calcutta to the President and Council of the Factory at Islamabad (Chittagong) as follows -

"With regard to the Tipperah Rajah, as the Nawab's Foujdar has been obliged from his ill behaviour to take up arms against him we desire that you will use your endeavours to reduce him due state of obedience to the Government of Islamabad, acquainting us then what advantages may accrue to the Company from the possession of that Country, and we will answer any representations the Nawab (the Nizam) may make on the subject."

This frank exposition of the greed for their neighbour's property, which alone seemed to guide the action of the Company's representatives and the calm assumption, that, because the Nizam had ceded "the Thanna of Chittagong" to the Company the Government of Islamabad became the lords of the whole of Eastern Bengal and required to reduce him (the Independent Raja of Tripura) to his due obedience to the Company, not to the Nawab Nazim, is as astounding as it is shameless. There never could be any dispute about what the Nizam granted to the Company as the "Thanna of Islamabad or Chittagong" by a Sanad (see Aitchison Vol. I page 48.) The river Feni had been its Northern boundary, from time immemorial, separating it from the Tripura Raj and the rest of Eastern Bengal. Further the concluding words quoted-- "and we will answer any representations the Nawab may make on the subject " clearly show, that, a guilty idea was at the back of Governor Vansittart's mind.

"In accordance with this order Mr. Verelst, the Chief at Islamabad despatched Lieutenant Mathew with 200 Sepoys and two guns to Tripura where he found the Nawab's Dewan was already operating with Mohammedan troops. The Dewan had reported that he had obliged the Raj ah to take to the mountains, and had got possession of every fort in the country On the arrival of our troops the Raj ah at once put himself in their hands."

 "A Collector of revenue was despatched from Chittagong with instructions to enquire into the resources of the country and demand payment of the expenses of the expedition. The Collector found the province desolated by the Nawab's troops and was compelled to take payment by installments' as the Rajah was very low in cash.' The revenue for the first year was fixed at one lakh and One Sicca rupees."

This callous disregard of the crudest ideas of chivalry and honesty by a trading Company's servants, shown in the above quotations from Meckanize (pages 271-272), is followed by two equally shameless paragraphs, showing how even a high official of the Crown had become infected with no higher ideas and his sentiments are those of one who would appear to have suffered a personal loss by the Rajas of Tripura being allowed to retain even a scrap of their immemorial Raj, after the Mogals had robbed them of the fairest and greatest portions and the English Company had intervened, under the hypocritical guise of respecting  "a more scrap of paper," the Treaty with the Nizam of Bengal, and robbing the robbers!

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However to return to the unfortunate Krishna Manikya in 1761AD, when the Mogals had forced him into the Hills and the English had deprived him of the Plains. Being thus restricted few territory, subjects and revenue the Raja had next to contend against Balaram Thakur, the son of the usurper Jagat Manikya, who collected a considerable following of Hill tribes and ousted Krishna Manikya and proclaimed himself-

BALARAM MANIKYA in 1876 for a year or so when he in turn was ousted by the rightful Raja.

KRISHNA MANIKYA (1777 to 1783). Having refused to settle with the English for his Plains territory, of which the Company had so unjustly deprived him, these were "attached" and placed under the direct control of the Company's local Officer, who took all the revenue and doled out a pittance to I he rightful Raja After having a tank excavated in Comilla and naming it after his Consort as "Rani Dighi" the Raja died childless leaving his widow, the Rani Jabnabi Mahadevi, and a nephew Rajdharmani Thakur. Several Claimants came forward for the vacant throne each putting forward a different, and, in his own estimation, a better title than his rivals However the Company's Resident took the view, that, no one could deny that the widow was the Rani and recommended her being placed on the disputed throne. The Rani, as a pious Hindu Widow, wished to be cremated with her husband, but acceding to the prayers of her subjects, who had just grounds for fearing that, the Company would have an excuse for taking the Kingless Hills, as they had taken the Plains territory, she unwillingly agreed to occupy the vacant throne till a male occupant was found. Meanwhile she had the chita or funeral pyre kept alight, in order to be cremated when left in peace to follow her Hindu wifely wish and actually became s Sati in 1785.

JAHNABJ MAHADEVI reigned from 1783 to 1785 and, with a woman's common sense and regard for justice and equity, requested the Company to accept Rajdarmani Thakur, her childness husband's nephew and successor, selected by himself, as the Raja and Durgamani Thakur, son of Lakhan Manikya, who had been pitchforked on to the throne by Shamsher Gazi, as Juvaraj, so that both the Principal Claimants should be satisfied The Company accepted the Rani's suggestion and consequently RAJDHAR MANIKYA (1785-1804) as Rajdharmani Thakur called himself, ascended the vacant throne but had hardly seated himself thereon when he was accused by the Company's Officials

of "harbouring Dacoits" and deported to Chittagong while the Plains territory was again promptly "attached". Thus the unfortunate Raja was deprived of his Royal Throne of Tripura and of his Plains territory as well till 1792, when, by some miracle of right dealing, he was restored his liberty and his territories. But not until the Raja had perforce entered into a "settlement" whereby he had to agree to pay an annual revenue for Chakia Roshanabad, as, in the words of Mackenzie. 'The Company sought rupees, not elephants, and so the hills were left to their native rulers.

A Rajbati and Tehsil Cutchery were built at Mugra in Pargana Meharkul, Chakla Roshanabad and the Bazar attached was named "Rajdharganj". In 1800 the Raja empowered his son Ramganga to exercise full authority. This act of paternal affection led to very serious trouble on Rajdhar Manikya's death, in 1804, when, instead of allowing the recognized Juvaraj Durgamani to succeed, Ramganga, formulated the doctrine, that, the Raja's son was, as the Raja's son, the rightful successor and that the title if Juvaraj was merely a honorific. Being in possession of Chakia Roshnabad, from which the main income of the Raj was derived, Ramganga paid the Company's Collector the revenue and was acknowledged by that Revenue Official as the de facto Raja -- But the Company's Judge, having a judicial way o viewing such questions, took a legal rather than a pecuniary view of Durgamani's Juvarajship and championed his cause. The higher Officials, representing the Company of Traders, "sought rupees, not elephants" consequently they took a very benevolent view of Ramganga's doctrine, since he was the one who gave them the coveted rupees. So Durgamani Juvaraj, the legal minded Judge's de jure protege was referred to the Civil Court to prove his legal claims to the Revenue paying Chakla Roshanabad, promising to recognize him as Raja, if the courts declared him to be the legal revenue paying person for the Chakia, as the rightful Raja.

The Company was yet only the Emperor Shah Alam's revenue collecting Dewan, by virtue of the Firman of 12th August 1765, granted by His Majesty in gratitude for the Company defeating the rebellious Wazer of Oudh and restoring to him the Districts of Allahabad and Kora and contributing 26 Lakhs of rupees a year to the Imperial purse from the revenue of Bengal, Behar and Orissa. Furthermore the Cormpany were yet essentially a Traders, seeking rupees or that which produced them. Consequently the ideas of justice, equity and fair dealing with Indian Rajas and other Rulers found no place in the mercantile and pecuniary minds of its officials, who shuffled out of the difficulty of enquiring in an imperial and political manner as to whether the Juvaraj was the rightful successor to the vacant throne or he who bluntly stated, that a Raja's son was the Raja's successor and strengthened his argument by paying the necessary rupees to the Company. Thus the deciding of a claim to a throne was relegated to a Municipal Court in 1805, until the High Court at Calcutta throw out a similar suit about 80 years, letter, by stating that a Municipal Court could not be used as a Kingmaker:

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However to return to the concrete example of Durgamani Juvaraj claiming the throne of Tripura via the Zemindari of Chakla Roshanabad. On Rajdhar Manikya's death, as has been stated, Ramganga seized the throne, having possession of the Zemindari during his late father's reign. Had he been able to seize Durgamani Juvaraj as well he would speedily have made himself de jure as well as de facto Raja! Durgamani, however escaped and lost no time in gathering together men and means for the expulsion of the usurper. All, the feelings of the people turned to the anointed Juvaraj. Ramganga was disliked for the sacrilege of his conduct and the tyranny and suspicion which he so frequently evinced. Durgamani was soon able to advance on his expedition, but the British Officials interfered and insisted on his bringing a suit to establish his right to the Zemindari, promising to postpone recognition of the Raja until the case was concluded. Durgamani perforce had to acquiesce in this decision and Ramganga remained in possession of Chakla Roshanabad. The evidence of the principal Officers of the Raj was entirely in Durgamani's favour. At length on the 24th March 1809 the Sadar Dewani Adalat, the highest Court in India, as its successor the High Court is now, gave judgement in Durgamani Juvaraj's favour, declaring the "Zemindari of Chakla Roshanabad to be an integral portion of an impartible Raj to which he, as nominated Juvaraj, should succeed. The Company accordingly invested him with the insignia of Kingship as regards the Hill Territory, while the Civil Court gave him possession of the lands in the Plains." As Mr. Meckenzie remarked "years of misery might have been avoided had the company assumed the paramount position which the application for recognition had virtually recognized. The Raj and the Zemindari being treated as impartible the Company might well have decided at once whom it would accept as heir." But the Trader mind and instincts had not risen to such a political height and no more rupees were to be had from Durgamani than from Ramganga.

During the years Ramganga had been in possession of the Chakla he erected several houses, a temple and excavated the great tank named "Ganga Sagar" after himself at Mugra, completing what his father Rajdhar Manikya had begun.

DURGA MANTKYA (1809-1813) the son of Lakhan Manikya, the Juvaraj nominated by Krishna Manikya and his Consort Rani Jahnabi Mahadevi was a peaceful and pious Raja and named the Bazar at Sib Sagar "Mahadayagunj " after his Mother. Being childless he went on a pilgrimage to Kasi (Beneras) and died en route of cholera at Patna on the Ganges. He had made no appointment of Juvaraj, hoping for a son, but had left Ramganga in charge of the Raj during his absence.

RAMGANGA MANJKYA (1813-1826) naturally asked for recognition and investiture from the Company. But the poison of litigation having once entered the Raj there were several Claimants to the throne and Ramganga's title was disputed by Arjunmani Thakur and others. But so strong appears to have been the reverence entertained by the people for the customs of the Raj, that Ramganga had now no difficulty in securing their allegiance as the son of Rajdhar Manikya, the Raja before Durga Manikya, who died childless and had made no appointment of a successor. However Arjunmani Thakur, claimed the vacant throne among other Claimants.

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In order to understand Arjunmani's claim we must go back to Haramani Juvaraj the son of Mukunda Manikya (1733- 1737). Haramani died during his Juvaraji leaving two sons, kanthamani and Rajdharmani. The former and elder son was born lame and therefore according to Hindu law and custom, could not become a Hindu Raja, being maimed. Consequently the younger brother Rajdhannani was selected as a successor by Krishna Manikya and also by his Rani, Jahnabi Mahadevi. But kanthamani thakur had a son Arjunmani, the first cousin of Ramganga. So that, when Durga Manikya died childless and having nominated no one as a successor, then Arjunmani oh tlit' elder branch claimed the throne as preferential to Ito mganga of the younger branch. But, as Ramganga was in possession, having been left in charge by Durga Manikya, when he went on a pilgrimage, during which he died, as already related, and had been paying the revenue of Chakia Roshanabad to the Company and no doubt also owing to his being Rajdhar Manikya's son and de facto Zemindar, if not Raja, before Durgamani Juvaraj was able to substantiate his claim to the throne in a Civil Court, as the rightful Zemindar, the Company's Officials continued to accept the revenue from Ramganga, and, as before, referred the Claimant Arjunmani to the Civil Court, to substantiate his claim, meanwhile postponing formal recognition of Ramganga or whoever might succeed. The Sadar Dewani Adalat (Select Repcrts for 1815- Vol. II page 1.77, Urjun Munik Thakur and others versus Ramganga Deo) decided that Ramganga had the preferential  right to the Zemindari. However as this decision of the Sadar Adalat was only a summary decision in Ramganga's favour, the unsuccessful Claimants filed three regular suits, which were not finally decided till 1821, when the Company formally invested Ramganga as the Raja. Ramganga Manikya then formally appointed his younger half brother Kasichandra as the Juvaraj and his own son Krishna Kishore as Bara Thakur. This latter dignity, as will be seen later on, was the cause of an immense amount of litigation, trouble and expense. Ramganga Manikya was a very peaceful man, who practically left the conduct of affairs to his younger half brother Kasichandrd after appointing him Juvaraj. The large tank to the South West of the Palace at Notunhaveli (New Residence) or New Agartala, was excavated by Ramganga Manikya and named after himself. During this reign a great injustice was committed by the company's local Officials against the Tripura Raj by lopping off a large portion of the torritory in the Northern portion of the State south of the Kusiyara River, which formed for centuries the Northern boundary of the State and the southern boundary of the district of Sylhet. It will be necessary to go back for several centuries to understand how the Kusiyara River became at length the Northern boundary (in part) of the Tripura Raj.

Previous to the Mogal occupation of portions of India to the East of the Brahmaputtra, which originally flowed round the Western end of the Garo Hills and then nearly due South, through the British district of Maimansing, and then curved West and flowed into the Megna, and thus formed the Western boundary of the Tripura Raj. In 590 A. D. Raja Biraj extended his conquests beyond even the Ganges, which also then flowed in a S. E. course, through the districts of Faridpur and Bakargunj, before entering the Bay of Bengal, the Tripura Raj comprised the present British districts of Chittagong, Noakhali, Tipperah, Sylhet, Cachar, the Garo-Khasia and Jaintia Hills, Lushailand and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Consequently the district of Sylhet formed a part of the Raj. Subsequently "the district (Sylhet) was at one time divided into at least three petty kingdoms : - Gor or Sylhet proper Gaur and Jayantia and the country South of the Kusiyara seems to have been under the control of the Raja of hill Tippera" (see page 191 Volume XXIII Imperial Gazetter of India) Gor was conquered by the Muhammadans in 1384 AD, the last Hindu King Gour Govind being overcome more by the magic of the Fakir, Shah Jalal, than by the prowess of the Officer in command of the expedition, Sikandar Ghazi. After the death of Shah Jalal, Gor was included in the Kingdom of Bengal and placed in charge of a Nawab. In the reign of Akbar (Emperor of Delhi) it passed with the rest of Bengal into the hands of the Mogals ; and, in the time of this Emperor, Gaur was also conquered, though its rulers were for some time entrusted with the charge of the frontier, and were exempt from the payment of land revenue." However the district of Sylhet was not finally lost to the Tripura Raj till the Nizamat of Nawab Mi Verdi Khan, who in 1740 A. D. conferred on his son-in-law, Nawzish Khan the government of Dacca, to which he annexed the districts of Sylhet, Tipperah and Chittagong (see Stewart's History of Bengal page 447). Gor (Sylhet) and Laur were included in Bengal when the British obtained the Dewani of that Province in 1765. Jaintia was never conquered by the Mohammedans and retained its independence till 1835, when it was annexed by the British Government, as no satisfaction could be obtained for the murder of three British subjects, who had been kidnapped and sacrificed to the goddess Kali. During the early days of British rule, Sylhet, lying on the outskirts of the Company's territories, was much neglected. The population was turbulent, means of communication were difficult, and the arts of civilization were in a backward condition. The savage tribes living in the North and South of the valley disturbed the peace of the plains and there were continual disputes as to the boundary between British territory and the Native State of Hill Tippera" (the Tripura Raj).

In 1820 Lieutenant Fisher of the Survey Department, was deputed to ascertain the boundaries of Syihet and sent in a Report and a Map through the Magistrate of Sylhet. Although, as appears from the quotation above made, (from the Imperial Gazetteer of India Vol. XXIII page 191 New Edition 1908 published under the authority of His Majesty's Secretary of State for India in Council) "and the Country South of the Kusiynra (river) seems to have been under the control of the Raja of Tripura" yet by a process of reasoning and action peculiar to the company officials and in spite of this well known fact of the Tripura Raj extending North to the Kusiyara river, lieutenant Fisher laid down and the various higher official calmly lopped of hundred of square of mile of most of valuable agricultural land.

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Fisher's Survey of the Sylhet boundary was laid far South of the Kusiyara, as already stated, and he was appointed to the newly acquired district of Cachar in 1830 or  thereabouts as Superintendent, subordinate to the Governor General's Agent in Assam. The south boundary of Sylhet had ended at the Chattanhura peak, some 2069 feet high, and formed the tri-junction of the three boundaries of Tripura, Sylhet and Cachar. Starting from this tri-junction, by some clever juggling, another block of several hundreds of square miles of hills and valleys, as also some more agricultural and tea lands, were lopped off the Tripura Raj. There can be no contesting this statement or any other statement similarly made. Chapter and verse from Government publications have been given, as will also now be quoted to prove this last statement.

In Pemberton's Report, dated 1835, we find that all the Lushai country, situated directly South of Cachar belonged to the Tripura Raj. Mackenzie on page 286 N. E. F. of Bengal writes with regard to the South Eastern Southern boundaries of Cachar, Tripura and Manipur as follows :-

"In Pemberton's Report we find that all the Lushai country East to Manipur was once considered to belong to Tipperah. The South-Eastern and Southern boundaries of each are thus given by Pemberton in 1835" -

"From the source of the Juree river along the Western bank to its confluence with the Borak ; then South to the Western bank of the latter river to the mouth of the Chekoo (or Tipai) Nullah which marks the triple boundary of Manipur, Cachar and Tipperah."

 

The Southern extremity of the Suddashur Hills was the South-East corner of Cachar. It would appear from this that the narrow hilly tract running down between Hill Tipperah and Manipur, and represented in our most recent maps as part of Cachar, was in Pamberton's considered to be part of Hill Tipperah."

If there is any meaning in the above quotations from Official Report and statements in books published under authority, such as are the Imperial Gazetter and Mackenzie's NorthEast Frontier of Bengal, it must be that -"The river Kusiyara (tracing upstream) formed the Northern boundary of the Tripura Raj (in a general direction from West to East) till its junction with the Surma at Badarpur. Then the Barak (or combined streams of the Kusiyara & Surma) from Badarpur to the Manipur frontier.

This was the boundary when the Company took possession of the districts of Sylhet and Cacher and not a single argument except the argumentum baclulium and argumantm ad crumenaum to support the "might is right" procedure, adopted by the companies Officials, when dealing with the Raja of Tripura's territories, whether on the South, West or North.

As to the hills an Valley on the East, we will come to how they were divorced from the Raj in the region of Maharaja Birchandra Manikya (1862-1896) and the "Eastern Boundary" question arose and has been dragging along for 50 years or so and is yet unsettled.

However to return to Kasichandra Manikya-- As has already been stated Krishnakisor, the son and Bara Thakur of Ranganga Manikya, had been appointed Juvaraj by his uncle. So that when Kashichandra died in 1830 he was succeeded by

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KRISHNA KISHOR MANIKYA (1830-1849)-- It was during this reign that Mr. Dampier the Commissioner of Chittagong, to which Division the district of British Tipperah belongs, made an attempt to prove, that, the Raja of Tripura was merely a Zemindar with no Independent Raj whatsoever. This matter is very lucidly and at considreable length set out in a letter No. 121 dated 27th December 1833 from the Secretary to the Government of Bengal, acting under the orders of Lord Auckland, the Deputy Governor of Bengal and Governor General of India from 1836 to 1842, and addressed to the then Commissioner Mr. Harvey from which the following quotations of the most prominent points of the controversy have been made.

This voluminous correspondence began with Mr. Dampier's letter dated 10th October 1836, in which complaint was made that the Raja of Tipperah levying saverat duties within his Zemindary on cotton and other produce although at the time of the perpetual settlement," (made with Raja Rajdhar Manikya in 1792 as already related in that regin) "a remission to a large amount was granted on the jumma of his Estate as a compensation for the ab0t of the sayer mehal and the collection of such duties has been expressly prohibited by law".

But it was remarked the Rajah has two capacities one that of Zemindar within the pale of the Permanent Settlement, the order that of an Independent Prince in his own Hill Territory and it was clear, from a petition presented by his Attorney, (Mr. Bignell) that the Rajah now claimed to levy transit duty on produce within his own Territory, it being stated to be his only source of revenue.'

"On the 9th January 1833 all the papers in the ease were transmitted to you for your opinion s to the right of the Rajah of Tipperah to leavy transit duties within his Hill Territories; this call was answered by you on the 2nd May last in the letter now under consideration

"It appears that not content with the arguments, proofs, and illustrations in the papers made over to you, you sought for additional information in the record of the Chittagong and Tipperab Offices. You arrived by these means at the conclusion (for beyond the question proposed) that the Rajah of Tipperah had no Independent Territory whatever. To prove this you quoted as following papers":-

These "papers" are (1) Mr. Vansittart's letter dated 20th January 1761 already quoted in the beginning of the English Period) (2) Mr. Verelst's reply dated 17th March 1761. (3) Instructions to Mr. Marriot, the Official deputed by Mr. Verelst to Tipperah (4) Mr. Marriot'S Report and his letter dated 5th April 1761. (5) Certain documents procured by the Commissioner from the Sudder Board of Revenue, "showing that, in consequence of rebellious practices long subsequent to the above transactions, the reigning Rajah Kishen Manik, had been dispossessed of the Zamindary of Roshnabad, and Kishen Manik appointed in his stead." (6) The Sunnud of Investitures of 1785 in favour of Rajdhar Manik.

" This man; ( Rajdharmani Thakur who commenced his reign, as Rajdh Manikya, in 1785) "you observe, is shown by other papers to have been, in the year 1783 or 1784, apprehended nd sent to Chittagong to answer a charge of harboring dacoits."

" From all this you infer that no independence was left to the Rajah that no distinction was drawn between Hill Territory and Plains Territory; that the Rajahs submitted to investiture at the hands of the British Government; and that one of them was actually apprehended and tried by British Officers of Justice" (Heaven save the mark !). "It is also plain, you remark that Odeypore" (Udaipur), "which the Rajah now, claims as part of his Hill Territory, gave a name to one of the Mogal divisions of the country and that therefore the town of Odeypore must have been within, and subject to the Mogal Empire. " I find" you proceed to say "every proof that the Rajah of Tipperah was as dependent as any in the Company's dominions, and that too to the Mogal government as well as to the British."

Before quoting any further and giving His Lordship's decision it will be as well to crush the arrogant and illogical presumptions of the Commissioner of Chittagong in the last quoted paragraph, by quoting what is laid down at page 77" Treaties Engagements and Sunnuds" compiled from Official Papers in the Foreign Office and published in 1862 in the First and original Edition, before Mr. CU. Aitchison B.C.S. Under -Secretary to the Government of India in the Foreign Department "compiled" the Edition of 1892 and omitted and added whatever he thought proper and stated, that, third Edition was "Revised and continued up to the present time By the Authority of the Foreign Office, "that is practically by himself!

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The following quotation states clearly and concisely the relationship existing between the British Government and the Tripura Raj and the Raja :-

"The British Government has no Treaty with Tipperah. The Raja of Tipperah stands in a peculiar position, in as much as in addition to the Hill Territory known as "Independent Tipperah" he is the holder of a very considerable Zemmindary in the district of Tipperah in the plains ; he receives his Investiture from the British Government, and is required to pay the usual Nuzzerrana. The succession has been usually determined by the appointment of a "Joob-Raj" or Heir Apparent, whom the Rajah is considered incompetent to appoint, until he has himself been invested by the British Government. The present Rajah" (Isanchandra Manikya 1849-1862) "was recognised by the Government in 1849. Independent Tipperah is not held by gift from the British Government or its predecessors or under any title derived from it or them, never having been subjected by the Mogal."

To resume the questions from the Government of Bengal's letter above quoted.

(Para 41) "It is impossible, therefore, you argue that he can claim any independent power and, of course impossible, that he can have any right to levy on any part of the country sayer duties which have been expressly prohibited by the British Government."

(Para 42) Accordingly you proceed to recommend -
First,-- That as forming a part and portion of the British Empire in the east, provision should be made for the administration of justice in the hills (hitherto supposed independent).

Secondly,-- That provision be made for levying a revenue from this new acquisition which you divide into two kinds -- revenue from the plains, not hitherto settled; and revenue from the hills, not hitherto settled. The right to revenue from these lands, you conceive, should, without delay, be asserted.

(Para 43) As for the duty on cotton, which all the authorities from Mr. Buller downwards have so strongly object to, it would seem that, considering it as a due of the Government, and not of the Rajah, you rather approve of it than otherwise, and recommend that it be kept up, collected by the Rajah, and appropriate by Government.

(Para 44) It will be observed that, in the original question between Mr. Dampier and Mr. Bignell or the Rajah, the independent of the latter within the hill territory was an admitted point. The question was simply, being as he is independent in other matters, is he or is he not bound by a special contract to refrain from levying sayer duties within his independent territory. But you incline to believe that in fact both parties are wrong; that the Raja is not independent at all; and that, whatever might be the expediency of the duties on cotton, bamboos, &c, when enjoyed by the Rajah, they clearly are very fit and power duties (that on cotton at least) to be levied and enjoyed by the British Government.

(Para 45) Upon this the Deputy Governor remarks, in the first place, that by prescription at least the Rajah of Tipperah has a claim to independent possession of a certain territory, exclusive of the zemindary in the plains or district of Tipperah, of which he is the recorded proprietor whatever may be the origin of this possession, it is admitted by all, and it is indeed matter of notoriety for that, a great number of years, extending certainly as far back as the decennial settlement, the possession has been enjoyed without challenge, and untill your last letter, no one ever thought of challenging the right. Under such circumstances, His Honor deems it undeniable that the burthen of proof lies with the challenger and not with the Raja.

(Para 46) Now it appears to the Deputy Governor that you have proved absolutely nothing. You have proved that in 1761 the British Government took possession of the Province of Tipperah, and commenced administering its revenues on its own behalf. There is nothing in your report to show what was included in this province, and what was taken possession of and administered can only be inferred from the circumstances since known to exist. These circumstances are, as has been observed, that the country administered by the British Government is that below the hills heretofore known as 'the zillah of Tipperah exclusive of a certain territory in the hills held independently by the Rajah. Why the British Government did not take possession of the rest is not known though it may be supposed that they refrained, partly in order to conciliate the Rajah, or from generosity to a foe in their power, and partly because the hill territory was not worth taking.

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(Para 47) That the British forces proceeded to Nunagur, would be (even if that place Were, as you assume, within the hills) of no value in proof of your position, since subsequent events show that the British force, if they did reduce the hill country neverthless afterwards withdrew from it and left it to the Rajah. But the Deputy Governor is disposed to think that Nunagar is in fact nothing more than the corrupt mode of writing Noornuggur, the name of a town in the plains, situated within the zemindary and zillah of Tipperah, and at present the head quarters of a Moonsiff.

(Para 48) The only other fact brought forward by you to prove that the Raj ah ought rightly to have no independent territory is, that the Rajah, after 1761, or at least in 1785, received investiture as Rajah from the hands of the British Government, and that he was once apprehended and sent to Chittagong a prisoner to answer a charge of harbouring dacoits.

It was not the Rajah who was arrested and sent to Chittagong but Rajdharmani, the Nephew of Krishan Manikya and his eventual successor in 1785.

(Para 49) To this argument His Honor cannot attach any weight. If the investiture of the Rajah per se was symbolical of the conveyance of his independent territory to the British Government, what would become of the cheifs and Rajahs and jageerdars all over in India, who habitually receive investiture from the paramount government without ever supposing that, by so doing, they are making over their independent territories to territories to be brought in judicial and revenue matters under the general. laws and regulations ?

(Para 50) The history of India, from the days of Timour downwards, is full of instances of investiture by the paramount power of inferior princes, Rajahs, soobedars, jageerdars and others ; but there is nothing. His Honor thinks, that can bear out your supposition that, by receiving a khillut of investiture, the right of administering the raj or jageer of the inferior feudatory passes in effect into the hands of the superior State. It is notorious, indeed, that the very contrary has been the case; and that the practical exercise of power by the inferior is in reality confirmed and corroborated by the ceremony in question.

Note, - An ancestor of this very Rajah, in 1708, A. D., received investiture from Moorshed Kolly Khan without relinquishing, or being supposed to relinquish, his independent jurisdiction. The circumstance is mentioned by Stewart (History of Bengal, page 372), and it is distinctly stated that no encroachment on the Raja's rights was attempted, though the "khillut" was annually renewed. In fact, the Province of Tipperah was not conquered and added to the Mogul Empire until 1733, when it was overrun and subdued by Meer Hubbeeb, Dewan of the Naib Nazim of Dacca (Id., page 427).

(Para 51) In the case of the Rajah of Tipperah there was a special reason for investiture by Government. The most valuable possession of the Rajah was his estate in the British territory; as a zemindar of that estate he was a reject of the British Government. Succession to the estate was of course regulated by the general laws of the British territory and enforced by the British tribunals. As a matter of course, therefore, the succession to one property carried with it succession to the other, and in effect this has always been the case.

Vide Sudder Dewanny Adawlut Reports Volume I. page 270 - Ram Gunga Deo versus IDurgamunee Jobraj. In hits report the existence of the independent hill territory is expressly declared.

(Para 52) The Rajah had therefore two capacities - one as a subject and Zemindar of the British Government, the other as an independent Rajah in the Hills. But as the succession to the latter was nearly certain to depend on the succession to the former capacity, he might very well be disposed to receive investiture and do homage at one and the same time, and in one or both capacities to the ruling and paramount government.

(Para 53) As for the arrest of the Rajah in 1783-84 the case explains itself As zemindar and as a British subject, the Rajah was and is answerable to the British tribunals, In these days, when forms are more attended to and minute distinctions more carefully kept up than in 1783, the apprehension of the Rajah for a crime committed by the zemindar would, of course, be conducted with more regularity, more attention to technicalities, and less confusion of departmental authority; but it would not less certainly take place (if necessary) now than in 1783, though no one would suppose that the Government, by exercising jurisdiction under the regulations over the zemindar, necessarily enforced the same jurisdiction over the independent Rajah.

(Para 54) On the other hand, besides the notorious fact of independence, there is the testimony of good authority to the existence of the Rajah's right since the accession of the British.

(Para 55) "The Manik or zemindar of Tipperah," says Hamilton, speaking of the year 1801, "is an independent sovereign of an extensive territory in the hills, but usually resides in the town of Comillah, which is the head-quarters of judges and magistrate."

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