Archive / Papers / Donovan Papers


Given by J.T. Donovan.

Bengal; 1927-1931.

Tour Diaries of the Collector of Bakarganj, J.T. Donovan, November, 1927 to August. 1931

These typescript Diaries give a detailed record of matters dealt with by the Collector, Mr. J.T. Donovan, while on his monthly tours in his area. His living quarters were on board the S.L. May Queen, at Banisal.


November 14th-21st. Inspection of Perojpur and other villages – the gaol, dispensary and hospital. Crops and cattle. Veterinary dispensary, the Sub-Treasury, the Higher English School. Differences between. Moslems and Hindus. Satyagraha. Difficulty of compromise.


December. Dehergati, H.E. School Committee. Nalchiti, The Thana, Chaukidari, Municipal Office, Wards Office, Dispe nsary. Kulkathi, Bakarganj, Patuakhali, Bauphal, Sub-Registry, H.E. School, Thana and Dispensary. Cooperative matters. Babuganj, Chaukidars’ pay. Barhanuddin, local property cases. Overloaded cars. Bhola. Jail, Bazaar, Central Bank.


January Madhabpasa and Dehergati, bad roads. Mirzaganj cholera figures; birth and death figures; little crime. Khepupara, Colonisation Officer: Cooperative store, Assistant Registrar: breaches in road. Price of land. Agricultural matters, crops and labour. Straw-baling and straw prices. Illegal transfer of land. Matbaria Central Bank. Ulania, High School. Hossainpur. Bakarganj, Kulketi – road.


February. Bola. Sub-Divisional Office and Sub-treasury. Dispensary and thana. Collections bad. School prize-giving and Sports. Patuakhali, Court cases. Swarupkati Public Health Committee. Union Board, Dispensary Committee, Coop. Society. Non-cooperation. H.E. School and Girls’ School at Baiseri and Banoripara.


March. Baisari, rebuilding of bridge. Khepupara, difficulties over proposed Mosque. Opening of Steamer service. Embankment matters, and irrigation difficulties. Cooperative Stores. Dacoits on the river. No men or boats for prevention. Money for rice mill. Extension of Zamindar. Buildings badly sited. Attempted stabbing, culprit escapes. Incidents at gaol.


April. Barguna – the Tahsil office, the hat, dispensary and Khasmahal office and thana the Attestation Office. Middle English School. Collections of tax. Deficient bridges. Bamna, thana and dispensary, Sub-Registrar’s Office. Betagi, Gournadi, Inspector of Primary Schools. Mohammedan Marriage Registrar. Thana buildings. Kamarkati, High School. Broken-down bridge. Perojpur Sub-Divisional Offices. Indurhat, H.E. School at Shohagdal. Shohagdal Union Board not a success. Water hyacinth. Habibpur Cooperative embankment, 4? miles. Swarupkati, boat building. Baisari School Committee. Proposed bridge. Jalabari, school sports. Proposed re-excavation of khal. Banaripara, Narattampur School. Through Gava to Panchakaran, where a new khal is wanted, running to North West. Motor-launch via Kalijira to Barisal.


May. Perojpur, H.E. School, prize distribution. Control Bank inaugural meeting. Girls’ School prize distribution, poorly attended. A second, National Girls’ School; the two should be combined. Patuakhali theft of drum from Satyagraha office. Central Cooperative Bank misappropriation. Bank finances. Paterhut, Mehendigenj Chaukidari parade; dispensary. Hijla, latrines abutting on khal, new site selected for thana. Repairs needed to bridge near Mehendiganj. The launch; Margaret, badly needs improvement. Ashore at Nandi Bazar and Kazinchar where the hat was in progress. A populous settlement – little crime and a healthy place. Babuganj, -the hat in session. Villages of Rajkar and Chandpasa; road and canal-allegations against the President of the panchayat in connection with these works. Rahamatpur Sub-Registry Office. Wazirpur, junction of 3 khals, inspected thana.


June. Rahamatpur, two factions. Rajapur, Bhagari, Jhalakati. High crime figures, local officials implicated. Thana and dispensary. Union board. So-called voluntary subscriptions – Sec. 37 (b) of the V.S.G. Act is not used.

Bhandaria Union Board, tax assessments. Disgraceful state of this bandar: Titled absentee landlord. High School buildings and proposed playground.

Jhalakati various discussions.

Nalchiti. Discussion of affairs. in Rajapur. Prosecution of Sub-Inspector. Charamaddi; Arrears of tax.

Bauphal, thana and Dispensary.

Patuakhali illegal processions. Hunger strike in jail. Police Station building very unsatisfactory.

Padri-Shibpur, dispensary, schools, cooperative society and Union Board.

Khalishakati Zamindar’s house, two schools and bazaar.


July. Jhalakati. High School, Municipal Office and Girls’ School.

Patuakhali. Hindus and Mohammedans sign Agreement.

Jirakarti, promising crops, profitable rice-mill.

Kalabil and other villages, choking of khal.

Keshabkati. Circle officer unaware of developments. The Satla khal, water hyacinth. The Habipur khal, useless iron bridge. Excellent crops. Shikarpur and Batajore area. Poor dispensary building. R.C. Mission.

Chandsi. Union Board and High School.

Patuakhali. Communities more friendly.


August. Khepupara. Steamer service. Cooperative store accounts. Agricultural loans. Slaughter of deer. Inspection of schools.

Goila, Kavindra College, Girls School.

Agailjhara, High School.

Basanda, Girls’ School.


September. Patuakhali. Timing of processions, discussions, violent speeches, but compromise achieved, violence avoided. Visits to Angaria, Dacca, Kathalia, Pirozpur – boat races. Kaukhali and Gandata, school sites. Amrajani, school needed. Chandkati Batnatala. School prize distribution. Students and nearly all staff are Namasudras. The Mohammedans have boycotted the School.


October. Kathalia, M.E. School and Primary School.

Barguna. Fine jute crop. Schools and hospital.

Pathagarta. Veterinary Assistant Surgeon proposed and reaping machine. Lathimara, gorekati settlement.

Nalchiti, new Police Buildings.

Khepupara, works in progress in bazaar. Rice mill proposals postponed. Lata Chapli, Khepuhara, Galachipa, Patuakhali.


November. Daulatkhan: petition from shop-keepers for improved roads. Cooperative Societies. Union Board and Court of Wards office. Pollution of tank by doctor. Road breach. Applications for land. Cattle breeding. Demonstration garden. Poor use of Cooperative Banks. Hazipur, Kalazar doctor. Up-country guard wanted for tahsildar’s office. Breach in road. Madrasah school, attendance rolls. Mirjakalu, Cooperative Society.

Tasimuddin Dispensary and Court of Wards Office. Very promising Cooperative Societies. Small holdings of tenants. Char Sokuchia – light thorny jungle on excellent land; no money for development. Char Kristna Prasad, surveyed and settled. Naib of Iswar, Babu and swindle.

Khepupara (19/11/28). Large celebration, with head officers of Cooperative Societies. Acting, singing and reciting by school children. Mughsoppose Rice Mill proposed here. Questions affecting Colonisation area. Cooperative Societies decide to proceed with Rice Mill – means to finance this. Rapid silting up near Char Biswas. Site of hat, and new cutchery building on Char Biswas. Land not cultivated.

Char Kalagachia. Andarchar, area quickly shoaling up. Kukri-mukri: Clearing of jungle and allotment of land. Water tanks. Survey of land. Labour hard to obtain. Proposed esmali settlement of reclaimed land.

From Kukri-mukri to Madras Dan, difficult passage. Inspection of school and hat. Char Fasson cutchery, proposed lay-out for market, police station, school and other buildings. Lack of fresh water. Petitions for land.


December. Mehendiganj, inspection of Union Board. Collections of money for local purposes not properly recorded. Union Board bridge in fact built by private subscription. Dispensary freely used, but no subscriptions given. Reduced expenditure on road to Ulania.

Paterhat. Deputations from merchants from 22 firms, on better road communications, bridge and Telegraph Office. Bridge Fund started. Ilsa Court of Wards Tahsil office. Bhola Sub-Treasury, accommodation disgraceful. Bad road to Kalapura, a very prosperous market. Bhola inspector of Girls’ School, Treasury and Office. Visits to Sugdeb, Barhanuddin and other villages of the district. Lata Chapli area – crops poor.


January. Based at Barisal. Thalakati – steamer freight charges. Magura; Cooperative Society.


February. Tushkali, Mitha-Khali, Matbaria. Central Cooperative Bank, Union Board. Cooperative Conference.

Matbaria: School affairs.

Faterhet: proposed bridge.

Panjipukharipana: interesting cooperative activity.

Amtali, Kuakata: final funeral ceremony of Buddhist priest. Hindu ceremony of Mangi Purnima. Proposed new road, unpaid rents.

Lata Chapli, collection of rent. Bogi, buildings and bridge. Amtali to Barisal, 27, February, 1929.


October 22nd. One day only 22/23 October.


November. From Barisal to the Madras Dan. Khasmahal Circle Officer reports complaints against the Bhadralogs. Difficulties in rent collection. Construction of tanks and gardens. Financial arrangements. Cooperative Society taking rent for letting of land. Receipts and suspected dishonesty.

Shoal near Kanchanpur. Diluviation of land. Chandpur; the Scott M.E: School. Tenants condition. Breaches in road between Chandpur and Mirzakalu. Mirzakalu, M.E. and H.E. School. Daulatkhan, Sugdeb Union Court and Bench. Bhola, Blandy Girls’ School; Sub-Treasury poor accommodation. Daulatkhani: settlement matters, proposed road, Union Court Bench, pay of chaukidars and dafadars.


December. Swarupkati: thana, bamboo bridges. Large congregation of Mohammedans at the Madrassah.

Khepupara: new rice mill and wireless apparatus.

Lata chapli: good crops. Khepupara, Amtali, Miryaganj: ‘May Queen’ grounded. Bakarganj: inspection of market, police officers’ quarters and other offices. Amtali, Khepupara, Lata chapli: Mugh dance.


January. Patuakhali, Veterinary dispensary, Jubliee school. Petitions and complaints of paddy-cutting. Golachipa: Union Board, approaching elections. The Bengal Tenancy Act. Khepupara various Annual General Meetings, rice mill opening. Prize distribution to school children. Pathargata grave abuses in police-station. Inoculation of cattle against rinderpest. Opening of M.E. School, to be run on agricultural lines. Naltona: dispute on possession of estate. Bamna, Betagi and other villages. Perojpur: detection of crime very poor. Girls’ School extension plans. Tushkali, Matbaria a go-ahead place. Foundation stone laid of new school building.


February. Calcutta visit, various H.Q. offices, veterinary, finance, labour, Police, etc. Cooperative milk supply, pasteurisation. Inspections with Commissioner at Bhola and other villages. Char Fasson, Zalmohon, Digaldi. Khepupars, rice mill. Inoculation of cattle, the process and difficulties.


March. Perojpur, Central Cooperative Bank Limited has made good beginning. Visit to Calcutta 11.3.30-18.3.30, for discussions with government officials. Communal fracas reported in Barisal on 16th and 17th March.

Bhola 19.3.30. Exhibition, very well attended, included lectures on Public Health, Cooperation, etc. Amtali, chaora and kukua crop failure, improvident people. Money-lending and mortgages, restrictions on credit. Suspended rents treated as loans at 25% interest. Marihbunia: Large land-holdings, enormous families: numerous murders. Profits from crops in good years. Bribes to police. Khasmahal Circle Officer very inefficient. Schools going to the bad.

Barguna: Money-lending and mortgage of land: tenants here more industrious than at Amtali: corrupt practices in collection of rents. Ayla: Cess Revaluation – looting of tenants who are illiterate. No schools in the area.

Barguna: the thana deserted: two schools, staff poorly paid. Proposed formation of Cooperative Societies for Barguna and Betagi. Jhalakati: Boy Scouts and School Committee.


April. Gangahirti, near Bhola. Prize distribution at Girls’ School, with 54 Mohammedan and 1 Hindu pupil: unique school which deserves encouragement. Breaches in the road to Daulatkhan; inadequate repairs. Pre-Sarda Act marriages. Mirzakalu: salt offences. Lalmohan: only 50% rent collections. Ayla: Cess Camp, poor school building. Amtali, Marcichbunia: damage to crops by pamari pest. Khepupara: school and Central Bank, and rice mill. Barguna Office inspected. Complaints of distress from tenants of Nawab of Dacca’s estate. Instructions to local officials on cases of distress. Phuljhuri complaints of extortion in Cess Revaluation Camp.


May. Bhola, recent attempt to destroy the Additional Munsifi. Picketing of cloth shops and an excise shop by children and some adult hired ‘volunteers’. Foreign liquor shop damaged by bricks; picket obstructs entrance, four arrests: police inactive; Officers of Police and of Excise at loggerheads. Cooperation of Civil Courts Officers badly needed. Jhalakati. Prompt action by Police against obstruction and assault and theft of hemp. 16 arrests. Barguna. Police reports of occasional starvation, not confirmed by other local officers. Agricultural loans distributed.

Meeting called by J.T.D. of all Officers of the various Departments at Burguna. Great lack of initiative, and coordination among the various Officers. Example of illegal leaflets and failure to investigate reports of starvation. Instructions given for regular weekly meetings of all the various Officers in Barguna, to pool their knowledge and coordinate action. Instructions given on steps for relief, if this proves necessary. Demonstration garden in good condition, cultivation of jute being given a first trial.


June. Bakarganj, hitherto quiet with small exceptions. But recently an agitator has arrived to organise picketing and other trouble in Sahebganj and Bakarganj. Shouts of ‘Bandemataram‘ heard in Bakarganj, the

voices mostly those of children. Nalchiti, the thana, poor buildings, bombs thrown at Ganja shop. ‘Gournadi’. little trouble. Nalchiti, attempt to burn post office. Patuakhali quiet and well-behaved: sub-jail in very good order. Amtali: demonstration garden. Khepupara, lata chapli good effect of new water-tank. Khepupara good jute in demonstration garden. Embankment Officers’ work; recording of this and maintenance arrangements.

Cooperative institutions and Central. Opinion of Bank Supervisors. Shortages in payment of rents (kists). Readjustment and extension of kistsis necessary. Satisfactory results of new rice mill.


July Visit to Calcutta and discussions with the Chief Secretary and other officials.

Patuakhali annual inspection of sub-treasury. Review of 100 Anti-Civil Disobedience volunteers, all Mohammedans.


August. Patuakhali assault on S.D.O. (Mr. Talukdar). Arrest of youth, and of 16 ‘volunteers’, only one of local origin. Opinion of Hindu attitude to Mohammedans.


September. Gournadi site of Madrasa discussed. Excavation of Bilhagram-Dhamura khal – “a great triumph”.

Patuakhali seven further arrests for the assault on Mr. Talukdar. Deputation to J.K.D. asking for prosecutions to proceed. Pretended innocence of several professional people amongst the accused. Effort to obtain from the Hindus the names of other people who took part in the conspiracy to assault the S.D.O. unsuccessful.


October. Paterhat and Mehendiganj: no success at Civil Disobedience here: figures of sales April-September of hemp and opium. Thanabuildings good. Census arrangements well ahead. District Board road and new bridge. Suggestion of wireless sets in villages. Need of telegraph office. Considerable decrease in turnover from manufacture of country spirit, due mainly to civil disobedience or Congress propaganda, though also to worse economic conditions. No sign of illicit manufacture. Hijla picketing attempted in September and promptly suppressed. A ‘Congress Office’ in a house, without permission of the owner. One of the occupiers (‘volunteers’) arrested. Opinion of Civil Disobedience.

The Hijla thana in unsuitable buildings. Hijla: hemp and opium figures. Five ‘volunteers’ at ‘Congress Office’ arrested. Lata: river cutting badly. Muladi, figures of sales of hemp and opium. Heavy erosion here. Gournadi telegraph office; more telegraph offices badly needed. Number and situation of existing telegraph offices, comprises less than one for every 100 square miles.

Tarki-Bandar meeting of cultivators.

Firozpur. Site for proposed Central Cooperative Bank building. Proposed motor road from Pirojpur to Hularhat.


November. Dehergati petition against dispensary doctor. Khepupara with Sir Charles and Lady Tegart. Discuss with Colonisation Officer the threat to murder him if the Cooperative Stores continue to sell European cloth. Schools visited with Sir Charles. Kuakata, crop prospects. Cathedral, Armistice service, 11.11.1930.

Lata Chapli water tank. Discussion of settlement of Jehaymara Char. Bogi petitions from tenants. Khepupara Central Bank and Rice Mill. Barisal 15.11.1930. Calcutta 19.11.1930 to 22.11.1930.

Discussions of Barkaganj affairs with Chief Secretary and Hon. Member. Discussions with various Officers, including Financial, Educational and Cooperative Society matters. 23.11.1930 arrive Barisal. 25.11.1930 Kalupura: two Hindus arrested on suspicion. Motor to Bhola, welcomed by large numbers of school children. Daulatkhan after friendly reception en route. Bhola: lay foundation stone of new Central Bank. Motor to Tazimuddin: road repairs needed. Bhola Girls’ School prizegiving. H.E. School, Registrar Cooperative Societies at Bhola, Dighaldi, Barhanuddin, Char Fasson.


December. Visits, with the Honourable Member of the Board, to Lalmohon, Char Fasson, Bhola, Daulatkhan, and meets with large popular receptions. Crowded prize-giving at Schools. Christmas visits to Mirjaganj, Khepupara, Kuakata and Lata Chapli.


January. Amtali and Khepupara, four days of annual harvest-home festivities, and Education Conferences. Annual competitions of 100 Boys Schools. Annual General Meetings of Central Bank and Cooperative Institutions. School prize-givings. Visit to Kalupura and Gazipura. Bhola Central Bank, dispensary, thana, jail., Local Board and Schools. Daulatkhan Girls School and Union Board office.


February. Patuakhali: jail, hospital and thana, and municipal Office. Khepupara, inspection of cooperative stores, Police, Schools and Central Bank. Crop failure and low prices of paddy causes great shortage of money with widespread effects on local businesses. Probably suspension of collection of agricultural loans. No great demand for rice-mill product. Lata-Chapli, bungalow embankment. Sandargarhara: much bad grain; two cholera cases. Juluhar: H.E. School prize-giving. Dehergati: proposed 2nd grade College.


March. Parerhat. H.E. School, harmony between the different communities. Prize distribution, horse-races, lathi-play and fire-works. People’s loyalty to Raj. Bad road to Perojpur and dangerous bridge. Perojpur School, prize distribution, General Meeting of Central Bank. Boat-races.

16 – 18.3.31, Calcutta, interviews with various British Officials. Irish Dinner attended by H.E. the Governor and Lady Jackson. Barisal, Turhkali, Matbaria, new school building opened.


April. Barguna, talk with local officers. Greatly improved school, Central Bank. School.prize distribution. Less crime than last year. Patuakhali farewell party to S.D.O., Hindus noticeably absent, Trouble from associates of Satin Sen. Char Chilla near Amtali, bad dacoity with murder. Khepupara, rice mill closed. Amtali murder case. Khaukali good reserved water tank troubled by cattle. Two poor schools not yet amalgamated. Tuskhali, settlements of school land. Matbaria, administrative work. Kalupura opening of iron bridge. Party at Blandy Girls School.


May. Difficult journey by river to Bheduria, to open Free Primary School, the work of a Beduria cooperative society; this society will be of great benefit to this area. Bakarganj, cattle market. Low prices, cattle in poor condition. Inspection of thana. Dacoity is a normal crime in this thana. Among the Nawab’s tenants there is general terror of the powers of the Court of Wards, but not among the tenants of other estates. Stagnant pool needs drainage. Padrishibpur: boys’ and girls’ schools good. Misappropriation of rents by Nawab. Dispensary much improved. Subedkhali: new building needed for Dispensary. Cutchery of Nawab’s Estate shows amazing collections of rent. Patuakhali: inspection of police, Waterworks, Jail and Dispensary. Kanakdia: good new Dispensary building. Collections of rent on Nawab’s Estate poor. Crops not good. Hardship in the area. Petitions. Baga and Baufal: Dangerous bridges. Union Board difficulties, poor crops and bad prices. Bad road to Baufal, poor dispensary.


July. Baufal area, crop shortage.

Two problems: (1) landless people accustomed to live on labour or on charity. (2) Cultivation with land, but no money to purchase rice. Credit available but only on extortionate terms demanded by Mahajans (money-dealers). Action by Relief Committees. Kalaya: Subscriptions for relief. Baufal further subscriptions for relief promised or paid. Boga, Bilbilash and Rajnagar area no serious distress. Marriage customs. Villagers know nothing about local Board elections, nor of Round Table Conference. Patuakhali, Miryagenj: a fat and healthy internee. Swarupkati, Thana and dispensary. Maulana Nesaruddin in Sessmia. Swarupkati, Thana, Post Office and H.E. School. Attempted mail robbery near Banaripara. Banaripara, Babu Sitanath Dutta, a great benefactor. Jalabari possibility of site here for thana instead of at Swarupkati.


August. Gournedi: R.C. Mission, site for orphanage. Plantation of lime trees in Mission compound. Good yield of fruit. Cultivation of new lime trees. Attention of Director of Agriculture drawn to the advisability of encouraging this cultivation.

Gournedi, Dispensary and other sites and office. No complaints of distress here. Nalchira: sugar cane and good jute.

Kandapara and Basudebpara, small primary school. Basudebpara: village full of revolutionaries. Visit to the President. Union Board inspected. Muladi where the thana has been washed away. Rivers here doing enormous damage. Return to Barisal.