Brief text about Barak Valley

Barak Valley (also South Assam) is 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. Barak valley mainly consists of three districts namely Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi.

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 in to Surma river and Kushiara river. The upstream of this bifurcated river was called Brakro by the local Dimasa people. Over the years, Brakro got converted in to Barak.

The official language of Barak valley is Bengali. The majority of the people are of Sylheti decent and they speak Sylheti language, a dialect of Bengali.

Religious composition of the valley population is Hindu:42%,Muslim:50%, Christians 4% and others 4%. Hindus are majority in Cachar district 60% and Karimganj district (53%) while Muslims are majority in Hailakandi district(58%).

Apart from Sylheti, Barak Valley is also the homeland of Bengalis, Kacharis, Hmar, Manipuris (Both Bishnupriya and Meitei, Rongmei Nagas, and tea garden labourers). Of the three districts, Hailakandi district have a Muslim majority while Cachar district and (karimganj district) has 40% Muslim population. The valley has a long history of Islam and Muslim life; half of the valley (Karimganj District & part of Hailakandi District) came under the rule of the Turk-Afghan dynasties of Bengal from the early 14th century and continued with the establishment of the Mughal Empire.

Cachar was ruled by the Kachari Kingdom for centuries up to 1832 when British annexed the area under British-India. The mention of this mighty Hirimba Kingdom is available in the epic Mahabharata.
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 plebiscite was held in Sylhet, the district got divided into two, the eastern part of Sylhet which is known as Karimganj remained with India whereas the other part fell under Bangladesh. 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, "South Assam or Barak Valley is the extension of greater Surma/Meghna Valley of Bengal in all the way from culture to geography".

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. The southern part was also recommended as 'Dhaleswari' wildlife sanctuary. 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.8] This sanctuary was ultimately notified in 2004. Hailakandi have Inner line reserve forest and Katakhal reserve forest

In the undivided Surma Valley of which Barak valley was sort of an extension had leaders such as Basanta Kumar Das and Abdul Matin Choudhury, who actually represented Sylhet. In the Barak Valley region, it was Kamini Kumar Chanda, Arun Kumar Chanda and Abdul Matlib Mazumdar. Kamini Kumar Chanda died well before the eve of independence, but his son Arun Chanda and Abdul Matlib Mazumdar continued to fight for the cause. While Chanda was instrumental in garnering support of the Bengali Hindua, Mazumdar was one of the prominent Muslim leaders of eastern India to oppose the partition of India on communal lines. Mazumdar along with Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed (who later became the 5th President of India) became the most prominent Muslim opponents of the demand for a separate Muslim state of Pakistan, especially in the eastern part of the country. To counter the rising popularity of Muslim League, he successfully organised the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind movement in Assam. Jamiat was an ally of the Congress having a mass following among the nationalist Muslims. In the very crucial 1946 General Elections just on the eve of India's independence, he wrested the Muslim majority Hailakandi seat from the hold of Muslim League. That victory virtually sealed the hopes and aspirations of the Muslim League to include southern Assam including Cachar in Pakistan. It may be mentioned here that in that election, the bulk of the Muslim nominees of the Indian National Congress including Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed (5th President of India in later years) had lost to their Muslim League rivals miserably.