Araria District

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Araria district, which was a part of Purnia district till 1981 Census, acquired the status of an independent district on 10th January,1990. It has a rich heritage and close linkage with the district of Purnia. It consists of 9 community development blocks, viz., Narpatganj, Bhargama, Raniganj, Forbesganj, Kursakatta, Araria, Jokihat, Palasi and Sikti.

The history of Araria is a part of the history of the ancient Kingdom of Anga andcovered the area west of Mahananda. The area to the east of the river was under the control of the pundras. Anga remained an independent kingdom till the 6th
century B.C. when it was annexed by the Magadh Emperor, Bimbisar. The
subsequent history of the district is, therefore, linked with that of the great Magadh Empire.

The district later formed part of the empire of the Imperial Guptas which in 340 A.D., under Samudra Gupta, extended right up to Assam. Following the overthrow of the Guptas by the Huns, old Purnia passed under Baladitya, the king of Magadh. Hiuen Tsang, who visited Paundravardhan (eastern Purnia) in Circa 640 A.D., found prosperous people and the countryside having numerous tanks and groves and abundant crops. At the beginning of the 7th century the
district seems to have come under Sasank, the king of Gaur, who was a Shaivite and did his utmost to destroy Buddhism. He was followed by Harsha, the great Buddhist. From the 9th to the 12th centuries the district was under the Pala and the Sena kings of the Bengal.

The conquest of Bihar town, then capital of Bihar, by Bakhtiar Khilji towards the close of the 12th century saw the commencement of Muslim rule in the state. His successor Ghyasuddin Iwaz extended the limits of the territory to include virtually the whole of Bihar. This district (old Araria subdivision) also must have come under Muslim rule in the beginning of the 13th century.
However, since it formed an outlying part of the territory and revenues from it were not easily collected, the control remained rather loose. In fact some of the northern portions of the district continued to be under the sway of the hill tribes of Nepal. Thus very little is known of the history of the district till the 17th century.

The district was administered by the Mughals through Governors or faujdars who also combined the revenue powers of amildars. Ostwal Khan was the first such Governor, followed by three others. He maintained very good relations with
Murshid Kuli Khan, the Nawab of Bengal and managed to bring to book the refractory local chiefs including Durjan Singh of Birnagar. Saif Khan also recovered large areas of territory on the southern border of the district and had then cleared the forests. He rendered his full support to Ali Vardi Khan who became the new Nawab of Bengal. Saif Khan died in 1750 and was succeeded by his son, Fakhruddin Hussain Khan. The latter proved a poor administrator and squandered much of the wealth accumulated by his father. Fakhruddin Hussain Khan prudently surrendered before Saiyed Ahmad Khan, the nephew and son-in-law of Nawab Ali Vardi Khan.

Saiyed Khan proved himself as an efficient administrator and was held in great esteem on account of his noble living and appreciated for his just and fair dealings with all and sundry. He died in 1756, a few months before the death of Nawab Ali Vardi Khan against whom he had started an infructuous intrigue. Shaukat Jang succeeded his father as Governor, and was given the whole of old Purnia, which included present Araria district also in form of a sub-division, as a revenue free Jagir by the Nawab. Ali Vardi Khan was succeeded by Siraj-ud-daula who was apprehensive of the designs, his cousin, Shaukat Jang might have had on the Diwani. So he marched towards the district of Purnia (which happened to be the parent district of present Araria), reaching Rajmahal in 1756. But his troops could not be persuaded to proceed further. Meanwhile, Shaukat Jang refused to take up arms and accepted Siraj-ud-daula’s suzerainty. Soon afterwards, he was instigated by Mir Jafar Khan, the Bakshi at Murshidabad, to try his hand at obtaining the Diwani. At the same time the grand Vizier issued a firman appointing Shaukat Jang as the Viceroy of Bengal. When Siraj-ud-daula sent a messenger informing him of the grant of certain Jagirs to a Hindu Chief, Shaukat retorted that Siraj-ud-daula should quit the Viceroyalty of Bengal in his favour. This naturally infuriated Siraj-ud-daula.He marched against Shaukat Jang with a division under his own command up to the right bank of the Ganga and sent another division under his Diwan, Raja Mohan Lal, along the left bank of the river. Meanwhile Raja Ram Narain, the
Governor of Bihar had also been ordered to march on to Purnia from Patna. Shaukat Jang entrenched himself in a strong position at Baldiabari(between Maniari and Nawabganj) but the lack of any clear cut strategy resulted in his meeting utter defeat, he himself having been slain in the battle(1756).

On Siraj-ud-daula’s death(July,1757), Nazir Ali Khan took possession of the
town, imprisoned Mohan Lal and seized the treasury with the support of Achint Singh, holder of four parganas, who was made the Prime Minister.

Mir Jafar Khan was now the Nawab of Bengal. He sent Khadim Hussain Khan who took over control and became the Governor of Purnia (including the old subdivision of Araria).

The whole areas of the then Purnia passed into the hands of the British in 1770 when Mohamad Ali Khan was the Governor of Purnia. He was replaced by Duccarel, the first English Supervisor or Collector of the district. The district was marked by severe famine in which according to the European Supervisors, almost half of the ryots lost their lives. In 1872 the district was transferred from the control of the Bihar and Banaras Board of commissioners to the Calcutta Board of Revenue. With the creation of commisssioner’s Divisions in 1829, then Purnia was included in Bhagalpur Division. In 1834 it was placed under Rajshahi Division under which it continued until 1893 when it came back to Bhagalpur. It again went to Rajshahi in 1905 and later came back to Bhagalpur under which it has continued ever since.

The early years of the British rule were largely concentrated at establishing law and order and setting up of the revenue administration on a sound footing. Raids and depredations in border villages by Nepali Sardars took place in 1788 and again in 1793 in spite of a commercial treaty signed with Nepal in 1792. A delegation was sent under Abdul Quadir khan in 1795 to secure a lasting demarcation of the boundary with Nepal to prevent further raids, but it did not meet with appreciable success.

The next important event in the district is the movement of 1857. The 73rd Regiment of the Native Infantry and a detachment of the 11th Irregular cavalry were then stationed at Jalpaiguri, just across the eastern border of old Purnia district (which included present Araria district also). Although the administration did not expect any trouble at Jalpaiguri, nevertheless, a corps of Nepalese, was allowed to be raised by Kerr, an indigo planter of the district, in October,1857. Two detachments of the 11th Irregular Cavalry at Jalpaiguri
rebelled on 4th December.

The rebels retired after fighting bravely and with small casualties and injuries. Yule, the commissioner of Bhagalpur later unsuccessfully tried to intercept the insurrections from Dacca from entering the forests of Nepal. No further fighting took place.

The movement of 1857 led to measures for tightening up the administrative set up. An earthquake took place in 1897. In the same year a scheme for taming the turbulent Kosi was mooted by engineers, though it was actually taken up only after the country attained independence.

The people of the district also participated in the agrarian reforms and the Congress movement. Many prominent lawyers of the district left their practice and joined the Non-co-operation Movement of 1921. Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Mahatma Gandhi visited the old district of Purnia in 1921 and 1925 respectively. Over 700 persons from the old district were arrested in connection with the Salt Satyagrah. The districts like others districts of the state, has thus
played an important role in the country’s freedom struggle.

District Highlights 2011 Census

 Araria ranks 19th in terms of population (28,11,569) and 15th in terms of area (2,830 in the state of Bihar.
 In terms of population per Araria is the 25th densely populated district in the state with 993 persons
per as against the state’s 1,106.
 Araria ranks 16th in terms of sex-ratio (921) against the state’s 918.
 Araria ranks 04th in terms of child sex-ratio (957) against state’s 935.
 There are 26 uninhabited villages (out of 742 total villages) in the district of Araria.
 Madhura (under Narpatganj C.D. Block) is the most populated village (26,588) and Parhara (under Palasi C.D.Block) is the least populated village (19) in the district.
 C.D. Block Forbesganj has the highest number of villages (108) in the district and C.D. Block Sikti has the lowest number of villages (57).
 Majhua (under Raniganj C.D. Block) has the largest area (2,999 hectares) and Shijhua Milik (under Kursakatta
C.D. Block) has the smallest area (6 hectares) among the villages in the district.