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Pargana


Pargana a pre-Permanent Settlement revenue unit consisting of several mouzas. Such a unit was there even in ancient times though their nomenclature was different. Under the Sultanate administration the term pargana (Persian) was first brought into currency. A string of villages made a pargana under the sultans. Under sher shah, the pargana administration was further strengthened with additional officers such as shiqdar (a police chief), amin (or munsif) a civil arbitrator and revenue official, assessing and collecting revenue, and a karkun (record keeper). In the Sarkar system introduced by akbar the old pargana practice was preserved and further refined. In the Todar Mall Settlement (1582) the pargana was taken as the local unit of a sarkar. Its administration was staffed by several officers such as, shiqdar (executive head and magistrate), amil (assessor and collector of revenue), bitikchi (chief accountant and registrar), qanungo (keeper of revenue records), fotahdar or khazinadhar (treasurer). The chief of the pargana was named parganait, and also called parganadar.

For administrative convenience the parganas were regrouped into dasturs or areas having predominantly common customs and usage as regards rights and liabilities of various interests in land. The government and other parties were customarily bound to abide by the pargana dastur or pargana customs. Pargana dastur included an important aspect called pargana nirikh (customary rates). The rent, fees and wages, weights and measures were regulated by the pargana nirikh. Every pargana had its own nirikh, which its people knew and understood though these seemed to have been queer and tricky to the outsiders. The pargana dastur and pargana nirikh, kept unchanged for a long time, stood guarantees against zamindari attempts to enhance rent and introduce new standards in agrarian relations. With a view to undermining pargana nirikh and pargana dastur, the pargana system was abolished under the permanent settlement.

The Cornwallis Government took the pargana nirikh and pargana dastur as a barrier to introducing a progressive economy. The pargana system including pargana dastur and pargana nirikh was abolished. Such a measure was necessary to make the zamindari system work. The zamindars under the Permanent Settlement were made the absolute proprietors of land and free from any overriding encumbrances. The abolition of the pargana system and its associated institutions like pargana dastur and pargana nirikh was linked with making the zamindari rights in land absolute. After all, pargana was formerly a state institution, which became redundant and inconsistent with the introduction of the Permanent Settlement.

But the raiyats of the respective parganas were so much accustomed to pargana dastur and pargana nirikh that they never recognized the act of the government. They continued to identify themselves with the pargana so much so that they invariably used pargana in their addresses and property documents. Thus, though pargana system was abolished in 1793, the government officials used the term all through in land surveys, village identification, court decrees, and so on. [Sirajul Islam]