Nawab Siraj-ud-daulah's Attack On Fort William

Description: After the death of Alibardi Khan his grandson Siraj ud Daula became the nawab of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa. The Britishers of the east india company got involved with the conspiracy against the new nawab and became unruly. When they began to fortify fort William, Siraj asked them to stop. But the did not listen. So the nawab attacked the britishers to evict them from Kolkata.

Nawab Siraj ud Daulah's attack on Fort William

According to some historians, Mirza Mohammad Siraj ud Daulah was born on 19 september,1727. Some historians wrote that he was born on 2 july,1733. But the most acceptable opinion is that Siraj ud Daulah was born in 1732 in Rajmahal. Siraj’s father Zainuddin (Joyen Uddin) was the Subahdar of Bihar. He was the son of Alibardi Khan’s elder brother Haji Ahmad. Siraj’s mother Amena Begum was Alibardi’s youngest daughter.

As Alibardi did not have any male child, Siraj was considered as the successor to the throne of Murshidabad from childhood. So Siraj was given all the opportunities and education in the fort to bring up him as the future nawab. In 1746 Alibardi took Siraj with him in his war against the Marathas.

When Zainuddin was killed by the conspirators in 1750, siraj was only 17 years old at that time and was appointed as the governor of Bihar. As he was a minor, Raja Jankiram was made his representative. But Siraj was dissatisfied with this. So one day he left Murshidabad with his wife Lutfunnesa and some loyal companions in the guise of traveling. He arrived directly in Patna and asked Jankiram to hand over power. Jankiram closed the gate of the fort and sent a messenger to Alibardi informing him details. On the other hand, furious with Jankiram’s behavior, Siraj attacked the fort. Both sides suffered many casualties. When Alibardi heard the news, he arrived at the scene of occurrence and normalized the situation. Glad with Siraj’s firm character, horse-riding and warcraft that very day Alibardi took him to the court inside the fort and sitting beside his beloved grandson declared,” after me Siraj Uddaulah will ascend the throne of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa.” This incident is known as the ‘coronation of a young king’ in history.

Since 1717 when Bengal’s capital was moved to Murshidabad, the nawabs lived there and a naib-e-nazim (deputy subahdar) was appointed for Bengal. From 1740 to 1744 Alibardi Khan’s nephew and son-in-law Nawazesh Muhammad Khan was the naeb-e-nazim of Bengal. But he stayed in Murshidabad and his representative Hosen Quli Khan and Hosen Quli’s assistant Hosen Uddin Khan (1744-1754) governed Dhaka on behalf of Nawazesh. From that time friction began between Alibardi’s nephew Shawkat Jung and Nawazesh. As a consequence of this, Hosen Uddin Khan was killed in Dhaka and his uncle was killed in Murshidabad. Aga Sadek and Aga Bakher were involved in the murder of Hosen Uddin Khan.

Aga Bakher was the zamindar of Bakherganj and Aga Sadek was his son. When Sadek protested against a decision made by Hosen Uddin, Hosen Quli imprisoned him. He escaped to Dhaka and hatched up a plan to kill Hosen Quli. Honest and pious Hosen Quli was murdered in his palace in the dark of night. Inhabitants of the city became aggressive when they came to know about the incident in the morning and attacked Bakher and his son. They tried to save their skin by saying that about the appointment as naeb-e-nazim. People demanded to show the appointment letter. As they could not show that, they took up their sword. Aga Bakher lost his life in public beating, but severely injured Aga Sadek managed to escape.

Hosen Quli Khan and Raj Ballav were Nawazesh’s bosom friends. Hosen Quli had the responsibility of Nawazesh’s treasury. Raj Ballav became afraid after his killing. Then he hatched up a conspiracy. As Nawazesh was childless, he adopted Siraj’s younger brother Mirza Mehedi. Mehedi died when Nawazesh was still alive. But Mehedi had a young son. Raj Ballav wanted to install him in the throne and dreamt of being the nawab of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa in the name of Ghaseti Begum.

Alibardi Khan died in the midst of such a calamitous situation on 10 April, 1756. Chaos and conspiracy broke out everywhere. The Britishers began to repair their fort in Kolkata without taking permission from the nawab. Raj Ballav sent his son Krishna Ballav to Kolkata with the entire money of the treasury of Dhaka to take the Britishers’ shelter in order to help Ghaseti Begum. Among this circumstance, Shah Quli Khan Mirza Muhammad Haybat Jung Bahadur Siraj ud Daulah ascended the throne of Murshidabad on 10 april,1756.

The Britishers’ power grew gradually after Siraj ascended the throne. To suppress them Siraj ordered Watson, the owner of Kashimbazar trading post to break the walls around the fort and not to do such a thing in future without the nawab’s permission. But he continued the work without paying any heed. Siraj realized that the Britishers were showing arrogance taking the opportunity of domestic feud. So firstly, he tried to shatter Ghaseti Begum’s conspiracy. He arranged to occupy the Motijheel palace and bring Ghaseti back to Murshidabad. Then the nawab set out for Kashimbazar. Siraj asked Watson to present himself in the royal court and write down an indenture that the nawab’s order would be followed properly. Watson had no option but to write that indenture. Later the Britishers began to fortify fort William. Nawab Siraj ordered them to stop, but they did not listen. So the infuriated nawab decided to evict them from Kolkata.

On 16 june, 1756 Siraj arrived at the gate of fort William along with 30,000 soldiers. After two days of war, British governor Roger Drake escaped to Fulta with the majority of his soldiers. Halwall stayed in the fort along with the European and Armenian soldiers, plus he had 170 white soldiers. But nawab’s gun-soldiers did not let them succeed. On 20 June from morning to noon 25 five British soldiers were killed and 70 more were injured in the fight. Halwell had no option but to surrender. At night when some of the captive soldiers attacked the nawab’s guards, Siraj ordered his soldiers to confine them. Later, Halwell complained that they were confined in a single room with a tiny window and that the room was 18 feet in length and 14 feet 10 inch in width and that , in the extreme heat of June they were forced to stay congested in that ‘black hole’. So many, including the injured soldiers died of suffocation. It was circulated in Europe that 123 of 146 soldiers died in that so-called black hole. The next day all imprisoned British soldiers were released but Halwell and three other leading company officers. Nawab ordered his commanders to imprison them in the prison in Murshidabad. But a few days later Siraj released them too.

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