People of erstwhile Cooch Behar State, 89% of who were ethnic Rajbanshis, were eager to join Indian Dominion from the days of freedom struggle. For Armed Cooch Behar State Forces, popularly known as ‘Narayani Sena’, it was obviously natural to join Indian Army on subsequent accession with free India. The process of accession, under the statesmanship of Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, had begun as early as prior to declaration of Independence on 15thAugust, 1947.
As per the policy of Dominion of India on accession of princely states, the Instrument of Accession and the Standstill Agreement prepared on the behest of V.P. Menon, then Secretary to the Government of India were dispatched from the States Department, New Delhi vide their letter dated 1st August, 1947 to Cooch Behar by Registered Post on 5th August, 1947 to then Maharaja of Cooch Behar State Lt.Col. H.H. Maharaja Sir Jagaddipendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, K.C.I.E. The Instrument of Accession was signed by the Maharaja on 9thAugust, 1947, duly accepted and signed by then Governor General of India, Mountbatten of Burma on 16th August, 1947. The Standstill Agreement between the State of Cooch Behar and the Dominion of India was signed by Himmat Singh K. Maheshwari, then Chief Minister of Cooch Behar State on 14th August, 1947 and V.P. Menon. These living documents exhibit the urgency and eagerness for accession on the part of both the States Department of the Dominion of India and the Cooch Behar State.
Finally, the formal merger of Cooch Behar with Independent India took place under an Agreement made between the Governor General of India and His Highness the Maharaja of Cooch Behar (Jagaddipendra Narayan) duly signed by the Maharaja and V. P. Menon then Advisor to the Govt. of India, Ministry of States on 28th August, 1949. Accordingly, Cooch Behar State was ceded to the Dominion Government with effect from 12th September, 1949. Cooch Behar was placed in ‘C’ category of States in the Constitution of India.
As per the Article VIII(1) of the Agreement – “The Government of India hereby guarantees either the continuance in service of the permanent members of the Public Services of Cooch Behar on conditions which will not be less advantageous than those on which they were serving before the date on which the administration of Cooch Behar is made to the Government of India or the payment of reasonable compensation.”
In connection with the certain points including status of the Armed Forces of Cooch Behar raised by the Maharaja relating to the just concluded Merger Agreement, by giving due consideration, on behalf of the Govt. of India, V.P. Menon in his D.O. letter No.F.15(19)-P/49 dated the 30thAugust, 1949 to the Maharaja, clarified queries on 14 points. As clarification given in the 14th point, it was mentioned as – (14) Government will endeavour to associate the name “Narayan” with the Cooch Behar State Forces even after their absorption in the Indian Army.
On the historic day of merger of Cooch Behar State with India, then Hon’ble Home Minister, Vallabbhai Patel sent greetings and assurances to the people of Cooch Behar which is evident as per his letter to then Chief Commissioner of Cooch Behar Sri Nanjappa which was as under:
“From Minister, Home Camp, Birla House,
11th September 1949
Chief Commissioner of Cooch Behar,
On the handing over of Cooch Behar to Central administration, I send to its people my best wishes and assurance on behalf of the Govt. of India that though far, their interest welfare will claim our close and intimate attention, I am fully aware of the many problems, political and economic, which affect the state and I am confident that with their co-operation and assistance we would succeed in solving them in the best interest of the state and the country for their happiness and prosperity, unity and mutual adjustment between the constituent elements of the population are essential pre-requisites without this such resources and personnel as we may be able to spare for them would avail little.
I hope therefore, that the people of Cooch Behar will work with single mindedness and devotion to duty as a united team for their own betterment and to achieve their due place in the political and administrative set-up of India.
To accept transfer of territory from a ruler is no small responsibility which we feel on this occasion. To give up sovereignty over territory is no mean sacrifice. I am grateful to him for the spirit of accommodation and understanding which he has displayed and the prompt manner which he accepted our advice.
May he and his people be happy, prosperous under the new dispensation which is being inaugurated today.
Home Minister, India”
Historical background of Koch Army of Cooch Behar Empire comprising of mainly Koch-Rajbanshi people has been a glorious one. As per ‘Akbarnama’, during the reign of great Koch king Nara Narayan(1553-1587 A.D.) aided by his warrior brother and a great military commander, Chilarai, Koch army consisted of 4000 horses, 2,00,000 infantry soldiers, 700 elephants and 1000 war boats. As per Sir E.A. Gaits, the British administrator and a great historian, there were around 52,25,000 able Koch-Rajbanshi youth volunteers to serve the Koch army. Because of the heroic deeds of the soldiers under able command of Chilarai, the Koch kingdom could defeat all north-eastern oriental kingdoms and unified whole of the Northeast. Undoubtedly, credit of uniting North-eastern India must go to the Koch army, who were famously known as ‘Narayani Sena’.
From the days of merger in 1949, the fate of 'Narayani Company' in the Rajshahi Regiment of Cooch Behar State remained in obscurity due to indifference on the part of the Government of India. The assurances given by the Government during merger are yet to be fulfilled and raising of a Rajbanshi Regiment is one of them. Today, although a young Rajbanshi is free to join any Regiment in Indian Army but it does not give him the honour of being a Rajbanshi of a marshal class. To honour the sacrifices made by the Koch-Rajbanshi people for centuries in fighting adversaries and uniting entire North-eastern India with mainland India during sixteenth century, raising such a Infantry Regiment named ‘Narayani Regiment’ in the Infantry Army is more apt. Raising such a regiment in Indian Army is not going to negate any national policy of India as Infantry Regiments of Indian Army such as Punjab Regiment, Maratha Light Infantry, Jat Regiment, Mahar Regiment, Madras Regiment, Sikh Regiment, Sikh Light Infantry, Gorkha Regiments etc. of Indian Army are doing exceptionally well for ages.
Under the safe hands of Koch-Rajbanshi soldiers of Cooch Behar Empire remained safe from foreign aggression for centuries. Even most powerful Mughal forces were forced to become ally with Cooch Behar kingdom. The British power acknowledged sovereignty of Cooch Behar as a princely State. It is the fit case to honour the Koch/Rajbanshis by raising ‘Narayani Regiment’ as assured by then 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India, Vallabhbhai Patel during merger of Cooch Behar State with India in 1949.
Jai Hind !
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CAPT. NALINI RANJAN RAY
Hail from Village-Kamar Gochh, PO-Rangapani, Darjeeling District, North Bengal (State-West Bengal). Working in Public Sector Bank in Senior Management Grade and presently posted in New Delhi. Hobby is writing. Books published so far: "Koch Rajbanshi Kamtapuri - The Truth Unveiled"-Guwahati, 2007; "Notun Diganta" - A Booklet on collection of Stories, Articles, Poems and Songs in Deshi-Rajbanshi-Kamtapuri Language-, Guwahati, 2010. Aspires for Social Work for all strata of the Society. VIEW MY COMPLETE PROFILE