Thursday, 28 November 2013

Assam Tea's first martyr - Maniram Dewan

Cinnamora Tea estate

Maniram Dewan, alias, Maniram Dutta Barua, joined the newly formed 'Assam Company' as a 'Dewan' or land agent after the British deposed the titular monarch, Purander Singha in 1839.

It wasn't for the salary of two hundred rupees per month that he joined the company. He was wealthy. But being an intelligent and far-sighted individual, he realised and understood that, 'Tea' was Assam's industry of the future. He wanted this industry to be indigenous.

During his tenure in the 'Assam Company', he educated himself on all the intricacies and nuances of tea cultivation and manufacturing processes adopted by the British at that time. And after satisfactorily imbibing all the rudiments of the craft, he resigned from the company to set up his own venture.

Undeterred by the rejection for land grants, Maniram purchased land, and in the face of vehement opposition and open hostility, started his own plantation. And it was in 1850, that he established "Cinnamara Tea Estate", the first and oldest tea garden in Assam.

The British waited out their time to teach Maniram a lesson. The opportunity presented itself during the Sepoy Mutiny, when he was arrested and implicated for conspiracy to oust the British from Assam and re-instate the Ahom king to the throne. 

After a semblance of a trial, Maniram Dewan was hanged on the 26th of February, 1858




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