The conspiracy against nawab Siraj ud Daula

Description: Shawkat Jung acquired the rights of nizamat (civil administration) of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa. He secured the rights by giving the minister of the emperor, Gaziuddin 10 million rupees. Shawkat Jung took the title ‘Alam Panah’ (provider of peace). Shawkat was the son of Alibardi Khan’s nephew and the naeb-e-nazim (deputy governor) of Purnia, Sayed Ahmad Khan. After his father’s death Shawkat Jung was appointed as the deputy governor of Purnia on 27 March 1756. Shawkat Jung received a secret letter from Mir Jafar right after Siraj ud Daula ascended the throne of Murshidabad. In that letter Jafar requested Shawkat to attack Bengal and promised Shawkat his and some other commanders’ support. But Shawkat wanted the power of the entire eastern region, Bengal-Bihar-Orissa.

Hearing about this conspiracy Siraj ud Daula led an expedition in May, 1756 in order to conquer Purnia. While Siraj was on his way to Purnia, he received a message of obedience from Shawkat and brought back the army. But the main reason of bringing the army back was to protect Murshidabad while countering the revolt of Britishers of Kolkata. But when Shawkat’s conspiracy became extreme, nawab Siraj advanced towards Purnia with his army in september, 1756. On the other hand, Siraj’s representative Rai Rasbihari advanced towards Rajmahal along with his force. After reaching Rajmahal he sent a letter of the nawab to Shawkat. In that letter Siraj ordered Shawkat to hand over the power of Purnia to Rasbihari. Instead, on his courtiers advice, Shawkat ordered Siraj to give up the throne of Murshidabad and go to Dhaka to rule that region as his naeb or to take pension. As soon as Siraj received the letter from Shawkat, he sent a force led by Raja Mohanlal to occupy Purnia. The naib nazim of Patna, Raja ram Narayan joined Mohanlal on the road. The combined force of the zamindar of Bihar also joined them. The foremost part of the force led by Mohanlal crossed the Ganga river near Rajmahal. Then they reached Monihari in south Purnia via Basantpur and Hayatpur (east bank of the old Koshi River). The other part of the Bengal force and the army of Bihar under Ram Narayan were following them from a distance.

Shawkat Jung along with his army advanced to confront the enemy force. He dug a ditch in Nawabganj, four miles north of Monihari and took position there. Commander Shyam Sundar was given the responsibility of the artillery unit. Shawkat Jung failed to build an effective defense system for lack of well thought-out plan. Both forces engaged in a battle on 16 October, 1756. Shawkat’s soldiers died in huge numbers, many were injured and many were imprisoned. Rest of his soldiers fled from the battlefield. Many of Shawkat’s soldiers did not even get the chance to draw their weapons. Shawkat was killed by an enemy bullet while he was commandeering his soldiers. After occupying Purnia, Siraj seized the treasure of Shawkat Jung and imprisoned his family. Then Siraj gave Purnia’s responsibility to Mohanlal and returned to Murshidabad.

On the other hand, the British company sent an army from Madras under Robert Clive and a naval fleet under Watson on 27 December, 1756. On 2 January, 1757 the Britishers occupied Kolkata because of Manik Chand's betrayal. Hearing this, Siraj set out to regain Kolkata. As soon as he reached Hooghly by the end of January, Clive’s force left Kolkata. But they did not leave with the entire force as before. Watson and Clive attacked Siraj’s camp in the orchard of Amir Chand on 5 February. None of the two forces had any advantage. After a few days of fight both sides agreed upon a peace discussion. After the discussion they signed a peace treaty. This treaty is known as the ‘Alinagar Treaty’. (Siraj renamed the city after his grandfather Alibardi Khan.) According to this treaty, the nawab provided the Britishers with all the commercial benefits given by the emperor in Delhi. Siraj also permitted them to build a fort in Kolkata. Besides, companies got the right to introduce their own coins. But they did not abide by the treaty. In 1757, the Britishers attacked the French trading post in Chandannagar. At that time, Ahmad Shah Abdali attacked and plundered Delhi. Perturbed by this, Siraj did not want to go to war with the Britishers. So the Britishers occupied the French trading post easily. The Frenchmen took shelter in Murshidabad. Siraj conversed in letters with Busi of the Deccan Highlands. To keep their dominion intact the Britishers conspired with the local power hungry people to oust Siraj. Jagat Seth, Mir Jafar, Raj Ballav, Rai Durlav, Umichand joined this group. They conspired to make Mir Jafar the nawab. Jafar was the chief commander of Bengal. Because of Siraj’s continuous insult Jafar went against him. When Clive came to know about this conspiracy, he promised them to help. In June, 1757 the Britishers signed two contract papers with the local conspirators. One of the papers was authentic and the other one was fake. In the authentic contract paper it was stated that (1) the Britishers would be given all the commercial benefits and the Frenchmen would be expelled from Bengal and (2) the economic damage of the inhabitants of Kolkata caused by Siraj’s attacks would be compensated and (3) Mir Jafar would give the British East India Company ½ million pounds and the Europeans living in Kolkata 20,000 pounds. In this contract Umichand’s interests were ignored. Umichand threatened them to inform Siraj about this conspiracy unless he was given a fitting reward. Then the fake contract paper was made where Umichand was promised to give a fitting reward. Then Clive declared war against Siraj for non-existed reasonsreasons.

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  • Nirupam Ghosh
    Nirupam Ghosh March 30, 2021 at 8:27 AM

    We are lucky that the lumpen ineligible Naboob lost to Clive on 23rd june 1757. Just think a while without the patriotic biasness against Brits. What would be the sub continental position today? If Clive had lost? Remember there was no country India, Pakistan Or Bangladesh that day. And do not mess with country India and the sub continent India?

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