The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript - J.P. Mills, tour diary, July 1928

caption: Problems of alienation of land taken from cultivators by moneylenders at Harangajao
medium: notestours
person: Calvert/ MrClifford/ MrMitra/ A.B.ShamsuddinMisir
location: Harangajao
date: 28.7.1928
person: Mills/ J.P.
date: 7.1928
refnum: (from): J.P.Mills and others, "Tour Diaries and Administrative Notes from the North Cachar Hills, Assam. 1928-1940. Unpublished Government Papers" at SOAS Library, London. Pam. Assam B 314349.
text: 28th July 1928. To Harangajao by morning train. Met Mr. Calvert. Went into the absolutely scandalous way in which land has been alienated here. Under my instructions Mr. Calvert held an enquiry in May. The situation revealed is this. In 1913, Mr. Clifford passed sound standing orders forbidding the issuing of leases in the names of non-cultivating money lenders. A number of foreigners opened up land here. In 1922, Babu A.B. Mitra, Sub- Deputy Collector whose services have since been dispensed with, put up a note to the Deputy Commissioner asking that a large number of annual leases might be converted into periodic. On this the Deputy Commissioner wrote 'sanctioned and approved'. Periodic leases were then issued. Then the money lenders, who probably inspired the note, busied themselves and began taking over this land for debt. In addition to this annual leases were issued to these same money lenders for large blocks of land. Out for a walk this evening I only heard of one actual cultivator who still holds any considerable piece of land, and he is the son of an engine driver. One other man pointed out as his some 60 bighas cleared by his father, but, on a bystander contradicting him, he admitted that he had lost it all to an up-country money lender to whom he was in debt. Shamsuddin, the richest contractor in the railway here, and the Misir family now hold practically all the land, the latter having some 460 bighas. This is the very result we have tried to avoid in the past. Much of the land held under annual lease by money lenders has either never been cleared or has been allowed to fall out of cultivation, their method being to make coolies work it for them from time to time. I can issue non-renewal notices for the land under annual lease and propose to do so. The other land has been transferred from cultivators to non-cultivators in flat contravention of clause 7 of the new lease. They have been called on to show cause why the Commissioner should not be moved to cancel the leases and merely say they took the land for debts and did not know they were doing wrong. They could have read their leases. I am going up to Commissioner. If the Commissioner agrees with me I shall settle the land with actual cultivators.