East Garo Hills District - An Introduction

East Garo Hills District was upgraded from a sub-division to a full fledged district in 1976, after the erstwhile Garo Hills District was reorganised with a view to bring the administration closer to the people. In 2012 East Garo Hills District was further reorganised to form a new district, the North Garo Hills District, out of the erstwhile Resubelpara Civil Sub-Division. The District is bounded by South Garo Hills on the south, West Garo Hills on the west, West Khasi Hills on the East and North Garo Hills on the north.

The new headquarter-complex is a neatly planned township. It has been christened as Williamnagar after Captain Williamson A. Sangma, the first Chief Minister of the State of Meghalaya. Williamnagar now has all the amenities of a modern town and is the largest growth centres in Garo Hills, next to Tura.



East Garo Hills District - History

The almost complete absence of written records prior to the coming of the British leaves the past history of the Garo very far from certain. For the past, we have to depend entirely on their legend and oral traditions, their folklore and folksongs, and other circumstantial evidence which are, however, most uncertain and reliable sources of information.

The Garos’ own traditions relate that they came originally from Tibet to what is now Cooch Behar, whence they moved on to Dhubri whose king received them warmly. However, later on, being afraid of them, he did not allow them to settle permanently. From there they moved to their neighourhood of Jogighopa where they remained for about 400 years but they were again forced to leave the place, driven towards the south by the ruler of that country, crossed the Brahmaputra on rafts and advanced towards Gauhati, where they settled at Ka’magre or present Kamakhya Hills and along the Brahmaputra valley. As the place was infested with tigers, the Garo relinquished the place and then spread into Habraghat Pargana in Goalpara. Tradition also tell us while in the neighbourhood of Habraghat Pargana, the Garo appear to have become rich and prosperous and the first Garo Kingdom was established, of which the first reigning price was Abrasen who has his palace and capital at Sambol A’ding, an isolated hill near the Dakaitdol Village not far from Goalpara town

Mediaeval Period

With the passage of time in the medieval period, while the Garos in the hills were still divided into a number of petty Nokmaships, the plain tracts along the fringes at the foot of the hills came to be included in the many Zamindari Estates, which eventually developed into fewer but larger complexes. During the mediaeval era and the Mughal period, the more important estates bordering the Garo Hills were Karaibari, Kalimalupara, Mechpara and Habraghat in Rongpur district, Susang and Sherput in Mymensing district of Bengal and Bijini in the Eastern Duars. Early records describe the Garos as being in a state of intermittent conflict with Zamindars of these large estates.

Modern Period

The contact between the British and the Garos started towards the close of the 18th Century after the British East India Company had secured the Diwani of Bengal from the Mughal Emperor. Consequently, all the estates bordering upon Garo Hills, which for all practical purposes had been semi-independent were brought under the control of the British.

Though political control had passed from the Mughals to the British, the latter, like Mughals, had no desire to control the Estates or their tributaries directly. The Zamindars were not disturbed in the internal management of their estates. In fact, they were entrusted, as they had been by the Mughals, with the responsibility of keeping the hill Garos in check with help of their retainers. Thus in the beginning, the intermittent conflict between the Zamindars and the Garos went on unabated until the situation deteriorated to the extent that the British were forced to take notice. This development led ultimately to the annexation of the Garo Hills in 1873. Captain Williamson was the first Deputy Commissioner of the unified district. The district was bifurcated into two districts viz. East Garo Hills and West Garo Hills districts in October 1979.

On 24th of March, 2012, East Garo Hills District was further bifurcated to form the new district of North Garo Hills with its headquarter at Resubelpara. The North Garo Hills district was carved out of the erstwhile Resubelpara Sub-Division and 5 Gram Sevak Circles (containing 66 revenue villages) of the Songsak Block.

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