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A Brief Sketch of Principal Characters of Battle of Plassey

Battle of Plassey

Battle of Plassey was a decisive event, a major turning point in modern Indian history that led to the consolidation of the British rule in India, after they won it, which lasted for more than next two decades. The battle fought between British East India Company headed by Robert Clive and the Nawab of Bengal Siraju-D-Daulah and the French troops, ally of Nawab. the battle turned traders into rulers and also was the starting point of the brutal drain of wealth from India.

Major Characters of Battle of Plassey

Siraju-D-Daulah:

Mirza Muhammad Siraju-D-Daulah

also commonly known as Siraju-D-Daulah or Siraj ud-Daula. Was the grandson of Alivardi khan from his maternal side. His grandfather Alivardi khan became the Nawab of Bengal three days after Siraju-D-Daulah was born so Alivardi khan thougt of him as very fournte for him. So he took Siraju-D-Daulah with him only and raised him and also declared him as his successor in 1754, and when Alivardi khan died Siraj-Ud-Daula became Nawab of Bengal until he lost it in battle of Plassey in 1757 against Britishers because of the treachery of Mir Jafar and Jagat Seth.

While Siraj is hailed as Banglar Shesh Shadheen Nawab (the last independent Nawab of Bengal) by most of Indian historian, and a king who was patriot as he fought against the Britishers. Sudeep chakravarti in his book Plassey the battle that changed the course of history describes Siraj-Ud-Daula as a person prone to cruelty that he alienated almost all the entire musrshidabad court because of his notoriousness. and also points one of his notorious activity as Siraju-D-Daulah slapped Bengal's richest and most powerful banker, Jagat Seth Mehtab rai, infront of the entire court.

Also Ghulam Hussain Salim a Persian historian wrote in his Riyaz-us-salatin history of Bengal, that Owing to Siraju-D-Daulah's harshness of temper and violent language, fear and terror had settled in the hearts of everyone to such an extent, that no one among the generals of the army or the noblemen of the City were free from anxiety. Among his officers, whoever went to wait on Siraju-d-daulah despaired of life and honour, and whoever returned without being disgraced and ill-treated thought thanks to God for saving him.

Siraju-D-Daulah treated all the noblemen and capable generals of Mahabat Jang with ridicule and drollery and named on each some contemptuous nick-name that ill-suited any of them. And whatever harsh expressions and abusive nickname came to his lips, Siraju-d-daulah uttered them unhesitatingly in the face of everyone, and no one had the boldness to breathe freely in his presence.

Robert Clive

Robert Clive was born in a poor family on Sept. 29, 1725, in England. He attended several schools because of his not good behaviour and at 18. He came to Madras as a clerk and bookkeeper in the East India Company in the east India civil service madras. Till 1746, then it was taken over by the French. He joined military in1751 and came to prominence for his role in the Siege of Arcot which was a British victory against the larger forces of Chanda Sahib, the Nawab of the Carnatic and French East India Company's forces.

This helped establish British power in southern India. Most important of thing which he did for British was, he won the Battle of Plassey with intelligent moves and conspiracy where British East India company has only 3000 soldiers and Nawab of Bengal had 50,000 soldiers. He served twice as Governor of Bengal from (1758-60 and 1764-67). And strengthened British rule in India by his various tactical and political moves like when he gets the Diwani rights from Shah Alam II in 1765 the rights to collect taxes. Which helped East India company in trading.

William Dalrymple in his book The Anarchy wrote about Robert clive as, an accountant who rose to top through his military talents to be the governor of Bengal. And described him (thickest, laconic, but fiercely ambitious and unusually forceful) who was violent but a very capable leader for East India Company.

On returning to England in1767 he was accused of corruption by several MPs of England parliament like General John Burgoyne and Edmund Burke for a running a corrupt administration, to which Clive responded: 'I stand astonished at my own moderation. Historians also support the argument that he was corrupt as he asked for fortune in his name only from him, when compensation was taken from Bengal for Battle of Plassey and used this fortune and to buy parliament seats from Rotten Borough.

On 24 November 1774 he committed suicide due to the depression of political attacks and his poor health, his fortune was worth about 500,000 (around 33 million today) when he died.

Mir Jafar

Syed Mir Jafar Ali Khan Bahadur also commonly known as Mir Jafar was the first Nawab of Bengal under British influence. He was born in Arab and came to India as a common man but won the confidence of Alivardi khan and became a Bakshi He gained the reputation of a brave military personnel, playing prominent role in many of Nawab's military campaigns. He rescued Nawab's nephew Saulat Jung in Katak and also defeated the Marathas. When Siraj-Ud-Dullah came to the throne and he conspired, with Shawkat Jang to invade Bengal.

However, the treachery was known to Siraju-D-Daulah and he demoted him and replaced him with Mir Madan as the Bakshi. Again in1757 he conspired with the Britishers in battle of Plassey to over in defeating Siraj-ud -daula in Battle of Plassey and in return Britishers made him Nawab of that place. In 1760 Britishers forced him to transfer his Nawabship to Mir qasim his son-in-law which he did, but restored him as Nawab when Qasim went against Britishers in1763. He died in 1765 as a Nawab of Bengal.

Mir Jafar's character is controversial in history and he has become a symbol for conspiracy and trachery. In Bengal and Bangladesh his name is used like an abusive word. The one who collaborates with the enemy whom you have thought of as a friend. Like the word (Asteen Ka Saanp is used in hindi).

Jagat Seth

Jagat Seth were a Bengali Jain banking family from Murshidabad. And the title of Jagat Seth was given by a Mughal emperor Farukh shiyar in18th century to the Manikchand which means Banker of the world[1]. In 1757 after Mehtab rai, Jagat Seth of that time was slapped by Siraj-Ud-Daula, and insulted in court he conspired against the Nawab and financed Britishers to win Battle of Plassey but when the Britishers got the trading monopoly in Bengal and shifted the market and treasury to Bengal, Jagat Seth faced a lot of loss. So Mehtab rai's next move was to soften his support to Nawab of Bengal to strengthen them first Mir Jafar and then Mir Qasim but 1764 when Mir Qasim lead to shortage of finances. With the economy unmanageable and the army unpaid, the path was open for Clive to seize Bengal. In anger Mir Qasim ordered Jagat Seth to be shot down before Battle of Buxar

Just like Mir Jafar, Jagat Seth is also a controversial character in history as he also conspired against his Nawab, and conspired and collaborated with the enemy. So his name is not very reputed in history.

Maharaja Nabakrishna Deb

Maharaja nabakrishna deb was the founder of the Shovabazar Raj family, was a close confidante/ally of Robert Clive. He was one the key figure in the plot against Nawab Siraju-D-Daulah inwinning the battle of Plassey. When battle of Plassey was won very easily in a little more than half an hour of fighting on June 23, 1757[2], he wanted to do a thanks giving to god as it was very fortunate that he won the battle in very little time, but the only church there was, demolished last year only by Siraj-Ud-Daula, So Clive's Persian interpreter and clerk, zamindar Raja Nabkrishna deb asked Robert clive to give his thanks giving to goddess durga as she is the goddess of power. And for that he ensured a grand celebration at his mansion in shovabazar for Robert clive to celebrate the Britishers victory in Battle of Plassey. and today also celebration of grand durga puja is held in the name of Company's Pujo.

Just like Mir Jafar and Jagat Seth, Mahraja Nabkrishna deb is also a controversial figure in history as some historian say he sold his country to the hand of enemy, and also celebrated durga puja a holy festival for the enemy, and also criticise him because in the durga puja where Robert clive was chief guest, wine and ham was brought to please Robert clive, which was very unholy and sinful.

End Notes:
  1. Available at: https://theprint.in/pageturner/excerpt/Bengal-banker-Jagat-Seth-who-gave-loans-to-east-India-company-financial-tips-to-aurangzeb/486979/
  2. https://scroll.in/article/763617/how-the-british-victory-at-plassey-created-the-modern-durga-pujo

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