BENGAL EASTERN FRONTIER REGULATION (BEFR), 1873: NISHANTH GOWDA S

BENGAL EASTERN FRONTIER REGULATION (BEFR), 1873

Author: Nishanth Gowda S

Institution: Ramaiah College of Law

ISSN: 2582-3655

Abstract:

Until generally as of late the Lushai Hills, later Mizo Slopes and now the territory of Mizoram, had not gotten sufficient consideration on account of antiquarians. For long the sections on the Lushai slopes in Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s A History of the Relations of the Government with the Hill Tribes in the North East Frontier of Bengal and in Sir Robert Reid’s History of the Frontier Areas Verging on Assam remained the main only tallies of these slopes. Composed essentially for regulatory purposes, they miss the mark regarding a target history of British relations with these clans. A basic deficiency of the later productions is that they have neglected to arrange the Lushai Hills in a more extensive pilgrim system. In this manner Suhas Chatterjee’s Mizoram Under the British Rule furthermore, N. Chatterjee’s thin Mizo Chief and his Administration make no endeavor to see that the kind of organization presented, or held, in the Lushai Hills was a piece of a bigger pilgrim arrangement. This is astounding as the writing on the British arrangement of circuitous rule, especially in the African setting, is genuinely broad. With the exemption of brief comments on the Khasi Hills by D.R. Syiemlieh in his British Administration in Meghalaya: Policy and Pattern there is no reference to it in any of the ongoing takes a shot at North East India. Indeed, even H.K. Barpujari’s very much archived three volumes study, 2 Problem of the Hill Tribes: North-East Frontier (Gauhati 1970 1985), which IS a nitty-gritty article of British strategy, misses this importance.

Introduction: What is BEFR?

Way before the 18th century, when India was neither a legal state nor a country, a law was enacted by Queen Victoria to safeguard, through punitive regulatory provisions, aimed at regulating transit facilities to the non-hill people into the hills and the entire North Eastern Region through the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 was enacted on 27, August 1873[1].

The Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation1873, was in force to restrict the entry of persons who were non-native to the areas covered under it or The [State Government] may, by notification in the [Official Gazette], prohibit all [citizens of India or any class of such citizens], or any persons residing in or passing through such districts from going beyond such line without a pass under the hand and seal of the chief executive officer of such district, or of such other officer as he may authorize to grant such pass; and the [State Government]may, from time to time, cancel or vary such prohibition[2].

Preamble:

[Whereas the Secretary of State for India in Council has by Resolution in Council, declared the provisions of Act 33 Vict., Chap. 3, section 1, to be applicable to the districts of Kamrup, Darrang, Nawgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur, Garo Hills, Khasi and Jaitia Hills, Naga Hills, Cachar [* * *][3];

Why/how was it introduced?

During the British era, the marauding hill tribals who used to invade the British subjects, which in turn created insecurities in the plains and neighboring hills the Inner-Line Regulation (ILR) was created to protect the interest of the British. An imaginary line known as the inner-line was created for the best interest of both the parties to divide between the two communities so that neither party could go beyond the line without a permit from appropriate authorities[4].

The Lushai Hills district during the British period was a non-regulated district. As per the Government of India Act 1935,[5] which made the Lushai Hills District excluded area and kept the hill areas beyond the jurisdiction of the Assam Legislative Council as the British were interested in protecting the commercial interests of the British planters, and were not interested in exploiting the Lushai Hills nor were attracted to the natural resources of the Lushai Hills. The good prospects of the British tea industry constrained the British administration to set them free from the Lushai raids, however, the Inner Line Regulation system continued even after the British left the country. However, on March 19, 1933, the British Government issued notification by stating that foreigners who had been allowed to stay in the Lushai Hills and the indigenous inhabitants were to be exempted from the regulation imposed under the Inner Line Regulation. Nevertheless, the term indigenous was not defined anywhere[6]. The Inner Line Regulations, commonly referred to as the Inner Line Permit system (ILP), first gained legal effect through the BEFR, 1873. This law applied to the districts of Kamrup, Darrang, Nowgong (Naogaon), Sibsagar, Lakhimpur, Garo Hills, Khasi, and Jaintia Hills, Naga Hills, and Cachar. After the Lushai expedition by the British[7], the boundaries of Assam with neighboring hill areas inhabited by the tribes were determined by a line popularly known by the name Inner Line Regulations. This was done through the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873, whereby, this regulation introduced the inner-line concept and was applicable to the southern parts of the Cachar district6.

Silent Features:

1. Local extent: [This Regulation shall extend to the districts named in the preamble, and shall come into force on the 1st of November, 1873.]

2. Power to prescribe and alter inner line: It will be legitimate for the [State Government]of [West Bengal][* * *] to endorse, and every once in a while to modify, by warning in the [Official Gazette], a line to be designated “The Inner Line” in each or any of the abovenamed locale.

The [State Government] may, by notice in the [Official Gazette], preclude all [citizens of India or any class of such citizens], or any people living in or going through such areas from going past such line without a go under the hand and seal of the CEO of such region, or of such other officers as he may approve to concede such pass; and the [State Government] may, every now and then, drop or change such preclusion.

3. Penalty for crossing the line without pass: Any [* * *]person so denied, who, after ‘The Inner Line” has been endorsed and told as per segment 2 of this Regulation, goes past such line without a pass, will be subject, on conviction before a Magistrate, [to the detainment of either depiction which may stretch out to one year, or to a fine not surpassing one thousand rupees, or to both].

4. Power to prescribe form of pass: The [State Government]may now and again recommend, by warning in the [Official Gazette], a type of go for each area, and may in such structure fix such limitations or conditions as the [State Government]may regard fit, and may require the installment of such levy and charges for such goes with regards to the [State Government] may appear to be appropriate.

5. Confiscation of jungle product found with offender: [(1)]Any elastic, wax, ivory or another wilderness item [or any book, journal, an original copy, map, picture, photo, film, trinket or article of strict or logical interest] found in the ownership of any individual indicted for an offense under this Regulation might be seized to Government by a request to be breathed easy of conviction by the Magistrate.

Any holder of such a pass will, on the break of any such limitation or condition, be at risk on conviction [to the detainment of either portrayal which may stretch out to one year or to a fine not surpassing one thousand rupees, or to both].

[(2)] If the Magistrate has the motivation to accept that any article which whenever found in the ownership of an individual indicted under this Regulation would have been at risk to the appropriation under sub-area (1) has been procured or entirely or somewhat composed, made or taken by such individual past “The Inner Line,” the Magistrate in the wake of giving the individual in whose ownership the article has discovered a chance to show cause why a request under this sub-segment ought not to be passed in regard of the article may, except if it is demonstrated that the article was not obtained, composed, made or taken as previously mentioned, request that such article be seized to Government.

6. Power to authorize arrest: The chief executive officer of any region included in any warning as previously mentioned may, subject to the endorsement of the [State Government], approve, by a composed instrument under his hand, any local official to capture and carry before him with the least practicable deferral initially, any individual restricted from intersection “The Inner Line” endorsed for such region, if such individual will be found past the line and when requested to create his pass will cannot or be not able so to do;

Furthermore, any individual to whom a pass may have been in all actuality, and who has submitted any infraction of its conditions.

7. Acquisition of interest in land by other than Natives of districts comprised in the preamble: It will not be legitimate for any [* * *]person, not being a local of the areas involved in the preface of this Regulation, to obtain any enthusiasm for land or the result of land past the said ‘Inward Line” without the assent of the [State Government]or such office as the [State Government]shall select right now.

Any intrigue so obtained might be managed as the [State Government] or its said official will coordinate.

The [State Government] may likewise, by warning in the [Official Gazette], broaden the restriction contained right now in any class of people. Locals of the said areas, and may now and again in like way drop or fluctuate such expansion.

Critical Analysis:

At present day the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 continues to apply only in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Mizoram. It had been lifted in the whole of Assam and Meghalaya. The purpose of the Regulation was to protect the interests of the capitalist colonial; the ILP was regarded very differently by the people residing in these places. The arguments being, of protecting the ‘tribes’ from exploitation by ‘outsiders’ as well as protecting their culture and language. However, these are flawed arguments[9].

First, none of the three states are in any sense homogeneous entities. Arunachal Pradesh has conveniently divided into three main divisions, the western end, the central and the eastern consisting of those who speak Tibetan dialects, Tani languages, Tai related languages, with some ‘Nagas’ respectively. In the absence of any real commonalities among the three main language groups, Hindi has emerged as the lingua-franca of Arunachal Pradesh.

Nagaland too is as heterogeneous, Naga nationalism and Naga identity initially began with the Church. The Church did not discriminate between ‘tribes’ and sought to supplant the ‘tribal’ identity with a ‘Christian’ identity. Nagamese has become the link language and is a working language[10].

Mizoram is another state where a heterogenous person. The actual language of the most dominant group among the Mizo peoples is Mizo, the Lushais. As Christianity united the many peoples in Nagas. Nonetheless, after the formation of the express, the Mizo language was forcefully advanced as the Lushai language.

The following issue is on securing the ‘clans’ from being misused by ‘untouchables’.It is hard to imagine a more hypocritical position. The hydro-electric projects and the oil drilling in Nagaland by ONGC close to Assam border have damaged fertile land and polluted the soil and groundwater. In this scenario, how can one claim to be protecting the ‘tribals’ from ‘exploitation’[11]?

Conclusion:

One must dive profound into the recorded advancement and have knowledge of how the current political and authoritative limits were divided to have a legitimate comprehension of the issues of North East India.

Corresponding to the North East tribals, the Constituent Assembly was appointed to draft the arrangement for the Sixth booked of which one of the individuals, Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri, questions the information and qualification of the individuals. He composed , “In truth, Sir I have no information worth the name about the natural regions and all the while I will say that none of my great colleagues here, not in any case the decent Premier of Assam [Gopinath Bordoloi] has quite a bit of a data about the ancestral zones in India . “

Right now addresses like, why there had been no modification of authoritative unit limits after freedom, as these were drawn during the provincial guideline for their own regulatory accommodation, alongside the territory India during the hour of State rearrangement in 1956? Why these limits were regarded and protected at the expense of the goal of the individuals? On the off chance that similar issues continue significantly after opportunity is won from the burden of the colonialist , what sort of opportunity it could be for them? Such unmoved mentality of the Government of India towards the North East tribals’ goal and want, which are introduced through update every now and then, result into doubt for the individual’s structure the terrain India.


[1] Urmisree Deb,  https://way2barak.com/assam-removed-from-preamble-of-the-bengal-eastern-frontier-regulation-1873-writes-urmisree-deb/

[2] BEFR, 1873, https://www.latestlaws.com/bare-acts/state-acts-rules/west-bengal-state-laws/bengal-eastern-frontier-regulation-1873/

[3] Ibid, Footnote 2

[4]Implications of Inner Line Regulation And Border Trade.

[5]Suhas Chaterjee, ‘Making of Mizoram’ Volume 1, M.D.Publications.New Delhi, 1994, pp.3-4.

[6]P. Chakraborty, Op.cit, p.22.

[7]P.Chakraborty, ‘The Inner-Line Regulation of the North-East India, Linkman Publication,Titagarh, 1995, pp.1-3

[8] Ibid, footnote 2

[9] Ibid, footnote 6

[10] Ibid, footnote 10

[11] Ibid, footnote 11

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