Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah

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Mîrza Mahmud, popularly known as Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah, was the last independent Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Oraissa. The termination of his reign marks the start of the British East India Company rule in India.

Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah was born in 1733 in Bengal. He belonged to a noble family of Bengal. He was the grandson of Nawab Ali Vardi Khan and son of Amina Begum and Zainudin Ahmed Khan. Siraj-ud-Daulah was regarded as a favorite child in the family as his grand father was appointed deputy governor of Bihar right after his birth. Therefore Ali Vardi was very fond of Siraj-ud-Daulah from the very day of his birth and had kept him under his special care and affection. Ali Vardi Khan made special arrangement to train him in the art of governance and other qualities that go with a crown prince. Ali Vardi Khan became the ruler of Bengal and, in 1753 officially made him the successor to the throne.

After the death of Ali Vardi Khan Siraj-ud-Daulah ascended the Bengal throne in April 1756 at the age of 27. He resented East India Company, as Calcutta was its commercial as well as political center. He suspected the company’s design when it was going to strengthen the fort William without his approval. He was also not in favor of growing influence of the British on the Continental trade. Nawab demanded the British to trade on the terms of Murshid Quli Khan but the company paid no heed to the Nawab’s demands. Nawab was more offended when governor of the Calcutta Council insulted Naraigan Singh, Nawab’s special envoy to Fort William.

Unfortunately Nawab had enemies also in his own family and nobility. His nomination to the nawabship caused jealousy and enmity of Ghaseti Begum (eldest sister of Nawab’s mother), Raja Rajaballuh, Shaukat Jang (Siraj’s cousin) and above all Mir Jaffar Ali Khan. As the Nawab was a major obstacle in the realization of the expansionist designs of the English, they contrived a secret plan with Mir Jaffar and Jagat Sheth, Hindu merchants and other disaffected courtiers to oust Nawab from power. The Nawab met the English on the battle of Plassey on 23 June 1757 but was so easily defeated in the battlefield. The English gained the victory due to the conspiracy and the treason within Siraj-ud-Daulah’s camp. Any army, of which the commander-in-chief had been won over and took no part in the battlefield, can hardly offer spirited contest.

On his way to Patna the Nawab was caught by a follower of Mir Jaffar and killed by an Iranian guard at the instance of Miran (son of Mir Jafar) on the night preceding 3 July 1757. The company appointed Mir Jaffar as the new Nawab of Bengal. The defeat of the Nawab marked the beginning of the English era in Bengal and gradually the entire subcontinent surrendered its destiny to the East India Company.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 03, 2005