HT This Day: Jan 3, 1950 - Cooch-Behar merges with W. Bengal

Published on Jan 02, 2022 05:24 PM IST

Hundreds of people from different parts of the State and from West Bengal were present at a public meeting held here in the morning when the West Bengal Premier, Dr B. C. Roy, explained the implications of the integration and welcomed the citizens of the State into West Bengal as also into the constitutional set-up of the Indian Union.

A screengrab of the Hindustan Times on January 3, 1950. (HT Archive)
A screengrab of the Hindustan Times on January 3, 1950. (HT Archive)
ByPTI, Cooch-behar

The 450-year-old Cooch-Behar State, whose administration had been taken over by the Government of India in September last, was finally merged yesterday with West Bengal.

Hundreds of people from different parts of the State and from West Bengal were present at a public meeting held here in the morning when the West Bengal Premier, Dr B. C. Roy, explained the implications of the integration and welcomed the citizens of the State into West Bengal as also into the constitutional set-up of the Indian Union. A large number of officials of the provincial Government and the State were also present at the meeting.

Dr Roy assured the people of Cooch-Behar he would do everything possible to ameliorate their condition.

The Premier declared that for historical, as well as for sentimental reasons, Cooch-Behar would be maintained as a separate district with headquarters at Cooch-Behar. Representation would be given to the people of Cooch-Behar in the provincial legislature on the population basis.

As regards the future of the State employees, Dr Roy said that all State servants would be absorbed in West Bengal Government service on terms not less advantageous than those under the State regime. In case, however, it was found necessary to discharge any person, adequate compensation would be paid to him.

Dr Roy also announced the decision of the Government to spend the balance of the State treasury on the date of merger (amounting to about 1.5 crores) on nation building schemes for the benefit of the people of Cooch-Behar.

PEOPLE WELCOMED

Welcoming the people of the State into West Bengal, the Premier said that socially and ethnologically the people of Cooch-Behar had close affinities with the people of the Jalpaiguri area in West Bengal. Besides its indigenous population, the State had a good proportion of Bengalis, Beharis and Marwaris, who had resided here for generations. The court language of the State was Bengali.

Dr Roy said that with the advent of independence in India, the forces responsible for bringing this freedom travelled to and affected the people of the States. Fortunately, the Rulers, on their part, recognized the changes that were coming on and adjusted themselves to these forces.

“Therefore we have witnessed the fact that within a few months of on independence, smaller States have been consolidated into sizeable units and democratic institutions and responsible governments have been introduced in them. Thus it was possible for the Government of India to utilize those forces for purposes of integration and bring about a united India in which the Indian Union and the States and their respective citizens will have full scope to co-operate and develop the country as one unit.”

The meeting over, Dr Roy proceeded to the State Secretariat, where he formally took over charge from the Chief Commissioner, Mr V. L Nanjappa, who had been administering the State on behalf of the Government of India.

A Calcutta Gazette Extraordinary published the West Bengal Government’s notification declaring that the Chief Commissioner’s province of Cooch-Behar be constituted into district in West Bengal and divide the district into the following subdivisions: Cooch-Behar Sadar, Dinhata, Mathabhanga, Tufaganj and Mekliganj.

The notification further adds that the district of Cooch-Behar will form part of the presidency division in West Bengal.

Mr V. I. Nanjappa, Chief Commissioner. Cooch-Behar, has been appointed, until further orders, district magistrate and collector.

KATJU’S BROADCAST

The Governor of West Bengal, Dr K. N. Katju, broadcasting from the Calcutta station of All India Radio last night said that the merger of the States into larger unions of neighbouring provinces was a historic and political necessity.

Congratulating the people of Cooch-Behar and West Bengal on this “auspicious occasion when a great destiny was bringing them together into one whole,” the Governor said that ever since his arrival in Bengal, 18 months ago, he had more and more realized the depth of the attachment, in which the people of West Bengal held their brethren in Cooch-Behar and the intensity of the longing for the union which had now happily taken place.

On their side the Cooch-Beharis had always considered Calcutta as their metropolis and had deeply cherished the bonds, economic and cultural, which bound them to this great city. It was, therefore, a matter for rejoicing that their brethren of Cooch-Behar were opening a new chapter in their history and starting upon a much larger and richer life.

Lying between Assam and West Bengal, Cooch-Behar has been an area of over 1,300 square miles with a population of 6,50,000.

The revenue of the State, according to this year’s budget, amounts to 1.11 crores. In the matter of food production the State is a surplus area, producing about 3 lakhs maunds of paddy annually. It grows the best kind of tobacco in this part of the country, fetching a revenue of 40 lakhs annually as export duty. It also produces about 52,000 bales of jute.

Although the existing administrative set-up of the State will not be disturbed in the immediate future, Cooch-Behar will form a district of the presidency division of West Bengal. The present Chief Commissioner, Mr Nanjappa, will act as administrator of the district. There will be a period of transition from three to six months before the State becomes a full-fledged district.

SARDAR’S MESSAGE

Sardar Patel in a message said that the decision to merge the State with West Bengal was taken by the Government of India only after they were convinced that interests of her people would be thus better served.

“The interests of the people of Cooch-Behar and of the country at large demand that the people should now take to the task of consolidation with West Bend with faith and determination,” he said.

The message which was read by the Chief Commissioner of Cooch-Behar, expressed confidence that the West Bengal Government would realize the special responsibility that they owed to the people of Cooch-Behar for their progress and prosperity.

Sardar Patel said: “I can assure them that the Central Government will continue to watch their future in West Bengal with lively interest.

“Cooch-Behar has had old connections and associations with West Bengal. Though partition has somewhat affected the closeness of that association, it has also emphasized the need for consolidation. They should have faith not only in the assurances given to them by the Government of West Bengal, of which they have already given an earnest in the specific obligations that they have accepted and which were announced in the Press note issued by the Government of India, but also in the vigilance and watchful attention of the Central Government in their welfare. They should have determination to see that their own interests are fully safeguarded under the new dispensation and to ensure that they play their due part in the great responsibility that they owe to the country as whole.

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