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264th anniversary of Battle of Plassey

Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah’s defeat was political

Published : Thursday, 23 June, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 442
Md Arafat Rahman

Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah’s defeat was political

Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah’s defeat was political

The battle of Plassey took place on 23 June 1757 between Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah and the East India Company. The battle lasted for about eight hours and Nawab got defeated due to the betrayal of Chief General Mir Jafar Ali Khan.

The political consequences of this war were far-reaching and devastating. This laid the foundation of British rule in Bengal.

The Mughal rulers of Bengal allowed the East India Company to reside in Bengal and they were given the right to trade duty free. But their intrusion into Bengal's internal trade in the second half of the seventeenth century caused a conflict between the Bengal subahdar Shaista Khan and the English.

After Shaista Khan, the English got the right to live in Calcutta and they established the first zamindari by buying three villages named Calcutta, Gobindpur and Sutanati.

They also built a fort called Fort William in Calcutta. In the meantime their relations with the Nawabs of Bengal deteriorated rapidly due to the misuse of commercial facilities.

At the same time the employees of the company started using trade clearances in their personal business. The company approached the Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar in an attempt to gain more opportunities. He granted some important privileges to the East India Company by a decree in 1717.

Since other merchants had to pay a fixed rate of duty, and the English and their allies traded duty-free, the local merchants feared being excluded from the internal trade.

Nawab Murshid Quli Khan obstructed the implementation of the decree. He felt that as a result of this special privilege of the company, the government would be deprived of its legal trade duty and tax.

As soon as Siraj-ud-Daulah assumed power in April 1756, the dispute between the Nawab and the East India Company became inevitable. For the first time, the young Nawab strongly protested against the illegal activities of the company in Bengal.

The Nawab called upon the British to take steps to resolve the allegations and sent several delegations to Calcutta to resolve the dispute through peaceful negotiations. When the special envoy of the Nawab went to Calcutta with the letter, he was insulted by the English. The Nawab was furious when he heard in detail. He immediately ordered siege of Kasimbazar factory.

The head of the factory surrendered but the English Governor of Calcutta showed disobedience and stubbornness. As a result, the Nawab invaded Calcutta and captured it.

After this defeat, it was possible to re-establish the company in Bengal in two ways, either surrender to the Nawab or use force to avenge the defeat. The British in Bengal sent an urgent message to Fort St George in Madras to send additional troops.

From there a contingent of British troops under Robert Clive and Admiral Watson was sent to Bengal. They recaptured Calcutta in January 1757 and declared war on the Nawab.

Siraj-ud-Daulah was compelled to sign the treaty of Alinagar with the English. But as the British continued to ignore the terms of the treaty, the tensions of the war continued. They conspired with the councils against the Nawab.

It is learned from East India Company court historian Robert Orm that after learning of Mir Jafar's dissatisfaction with the Nawab, Clive advised Watts to establish friendship with Mir Jafar. Watts and Scrifton contacted Umichand, a well-known Calcutta merchant, and established relations with the chief court officials of the Nawab's court.

A representative sent by Watts secretly expressed to Umichand the desire of Yar Latif to be the Nawab, adding that Diwan Roy durlav and influential bank owner Jagat Sheth would support him. Watts immediately grabbed the plan and informed Clive. It received Clive's approval.

Finally, on June 5, Watts was able to get Mir Jafar to sign the agreement which was a false agreement to deceive Umichand.

Despite the signing of the agreement, the select committee for the implementation of the planned revolution became very restless. Because further delay would reveal the conspiracy to the Nawab and remove Mir Jafar, so that the whole plan would be vandalized and the British alone would be on the ground to fight against the combined native power. On 13 June, Clive set out for Murshidabad.

Clive arrived in Katowa on 19 June. The place was occupied by Colonel Kut the day before. On June 21, Clive called a meeting of the War Council and decided not to take immediate action.

But Clive later changed his mind and decided to move on the next day. On the morning of 22 June, British troops led by Clive marched on Plassey. However, shortly after noon Clive received a long awaited message from Mir Jafar and continued his journey on the way to Plassey, arriving there at noon.

Meanwhile Nawab left Murshidabad and set up camp at Plassey to meet the enemy.

The battle started on June 23, 1757 at around 8 am. The Nawab's army under Mir Madan, Mohan Lal, Khwaja Abdul Hadi Khan, Nab Singh Hazari and others fought valiantly, while about two-thirds of the Nawab's army under Mir Jafar, Yar Latif and Roy Durlabhram stood idle and observed the situation. At around 3 in the afternoon, the cannon fire hit Mir Madan and he died.

Shocked Nawab summoned Mir Jafar and urged him to protect his life and honour. Mir Jafar advised Nawab to cease fighting and to resume fighting the next morning with renewed vigor, and the news soon reached Clive.

The British army launched a fresh offensive and as a result the Nawab's forces fled in a chaotic manner. The battle ended at around 5 pm and the victorious Clive left for Murshidabad.

The English were victorious at Plassey because of their conspiracy and the betrayal of the courtiers of Siraj-ud-Daulah. The defeat of the Nawab was political, not military.
The writer is a columnist &
asst Officer, Career & Professional Development Services Department, Southeast University

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