History of North East
Let’s start from the British India era, British took possession of Assam in year 1838 (early 19th century). Both the Ahom (consisting of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram & Meghalaya of now) and the Manipur kingdoms fell to Burmese (now Myanmar) invasion. This first Anglo-Burmese war, resulted in the entire region coming under British control. In the British India period, North East India was a part of Bengal Province between 1839-1873, when Assam became its own province. The Northeastern part of British India consisted of Ahom (Assam) and the princely states of Tripura & Manipur. Shillong was the capital of Assam in British India time.
It was during this time when British colonial authorities at Fort William took up a policy towards North East frontier people, of segregating the hills people and plains people. The ILR (Inner Line Regulation) was passed towards this region in 1873 (when Assam became its own province, apart from Bengal province), which was a virtual boundary along the foothills, differentiating the hills and plains people. This regulation prohibited any British subject or any other person to this area without a pass, ‘’who goes beyond the inner-line area without a pass shall be liable, on conviction before the magistrate, to a fine”. Till date we can notice that this regulation is adapted by few of the states in North Eastern India. Recently Nagaland & Manipur have lifted inner line permit for the foreign nationals to promote tourism. Only Arunachal Pradesh needs Inner Line Permit for Indian nationals & Restricted Area Permits for foreign nationals. Beyond the inner-line, the tribes are left to manage their own communities & villages.
All the ethnic groups in Northeast speak languages belonging to the Tibeto-Chinese family which may further be divided into Tibeto-Burman and Siamese-Chinese sub-families.
When the federal scheme under the government of India act of 1935 was introduced, the eastern regions with the exception of Assam were placed either under ‘excluded areas’ or ‘partially excluded areas’. Excluded areas covered exclusively tribal inhabited areas while partially excluded areas had mixed populations, tribal and non-tribal. Both areas were excluded from the competence of the provincial and federal legislature. The argument put forward by the colonial academies was that these regions were so backward that no sophisticated concept of representative institutions could be transplanted. Only the concerned provincial governors in their own discretionary could interfere in the day-to-day administration of these areas. In this way, the people in the region felt the impact of colonial domination rather indirectly and this is one of the fundamental factors, which was responsible for the slow emergence of political consciousness among them. Even on the eve of the transfer of power in 1947, the colonial officials thought in terms of creating and separating the eastern tribal inhabited zones into a single political unit. Robert Reid, the then governor of Assam, strongly advocated the formation of a new colony, and his conclusion was in favour of what would be, in essence, a separate country, “divorced from (as in Burma) the control of the government of India.
To meet the political aspirations of the North East people, the government of India has so far adopted two models of autonomy- one in the form of sixth scheduled district and another the autonomy enjoined with a state as provided under the constitution of India. The scheduled district arrangement was a colonial concept which was mooted as far back as in 1874. Consequent upon India’s independence in 1947, the constituent assembly accepted the Bordoloi committee’s recommendation on the need for creation of sixth scheduled districts for the protection of land rights, language and culture through a certain degree of autonomy for the tribal people in undivided Assam. Now, with the exception of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland, the sixth scheduled model has currently been applied to Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
|Formation of North Eastern Seven States under Independent India:
|Nagaland in 1963.
|Meghalaya in 1972.
|Arunachal Pradesh in 1975(Capital changed to Itanagar) (actually formed on 20 Feb, 1987)
|Mizoram in 1987 were formed out of Assam.
|Manipur and Tripura remained as Union Territories of India between 1956 until 1972 when they attained fully-fledged statehood.
|Shillong was the capital of the Undivided Assam province during the British Rule, until formation of the state of Meghalaya in 1972. The capital of Assam was then shifted to Dispur, a part of Guwahati, and Shillong became the capital of Meghalaya.