British conquest of Bengal

The East India Company secured valuable privileges under a royal firman  of 1717, given by Mughal emperor Farrikhsiyar, which had granted the company, the freedom to export and import their goods in Bengal without paying taxes and the right to use Passes or Dastaks for the movement of such goods. The company servants were also permitted to trade, but were not covered by this firman, they were required to pay the same taxes as Indian merchants. Conflict began when Sirajuddaulah came to the throne of Bengal. The new emperor faced serious challenges from his rivals Ghasiti Begum of Dacca and Shaukat Jung of Purnia and was also suspicious of the English. He was strictly against the misuse of Dastaks. Problem arose when the English began to fortify Calcutta as part of preparation of war with French without the permission of the Nawab. Sirajuddaulah asked both the English and the French to pull down their fortifications. The French complied, but the English refused to obey. Sirajuddaulah responded by seizing the English factory at Qasim Bazaar and subsequently Fort William was captured in 1756. It was during this occupation of Calcutta, the so called Blackhole episode of Holwell happened. 

      Leaving Calcutta at the hands of Manikchand. Siraj returned to celebrate his victory letting the English escape to Fulta. A strong naval and military force arrived from Madras under Colonel Clive and Admiral Watson. Hoogli was plundered and Calcutta re-occupied in the beginning of 1757. The Nawab was forced to sign the Treaty of Alinagar in February 1757 wherein all the demands of the English were conceded. By this time the English had decided to remove Siraj and place a puppet in his place. They conspired with the leading men of the Nawab’s court such as Manikchand. Amirchand. Jagat Seth. Mir Jaffer and Rai Durlabh. The rival met each other in the battlefield of Plassey. The major part of Nawab‘s army was led by traitors.  Sirajuddaulah was put to death by Mir Jaffer‘s son Miran. The English proclaimed Mir Jaffer the Nawab. The company was granted undisputed right to free trade in Bihar. Bengal and Orissa. It also received the zamindari of 24 Parganas. Besides Jaffer also paid huge sums of bribe to officials of the company. Mir Jaffer’s treasury was soon emptied with the demand of the company. When Mir Jaffer hesitated to fulfil all their expectation. they replaced him by his son-in-law Mir Qasim.

       Mir Qasim rewarded his benefactors by granting the company to the zamindari of the districts of Burdwan, Midnapore arid Chittagong. Mir Qasim was an efficient and strong ruler determined to improve the affairs of the state. He also checked the misuse of the firman of 1717 by the company officials to evade internal custom duties. He therefore took the extreme step of abolishing all duties on internal trade and benefitting his own subjects by giving them the concession that the English had forcefully snatched. The war between the company and Mir Qasim began in l763 and in a series of encounters the Nawab was defeated. He fled to Awadh and formed an alliance with Shujauddaulah. the Nawab Awaadh and the fugitive mughal emperor Shah Alam-Il in a final attempt to oust the English from Bengal. 

     The three allies clashed with the company at Buxar on 22nd October, 1764 and were completely defeated. It was the most decisive battle in the history of India. It established the British firmly in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and placed Awadh at their mercy. Mir Jaffer was restored as the Nawab of Bengal and after his death Nizamuddaulah was placed on the throne. Nizam-ud-daulah signed the Treaty of Allahabad in 1765, by which most of Nawab's army was disbanded and the administration of Bengal was placed in the hands of a deputy Subedhar who was to be nominated by the company. Thus. the company gained complete control over the administration of Bengal. The company got the Diwani of Bihar, Bengal and Orissa from the Mughal emperor.  It legalised their claim to collect its revenue as the Diwan and through the right to nominate the deputy subedhar, it controlled the Nizamat or the police and judicial powers. This system is known in history as the ‘Dual Govemment’ Clive introduced the Dual government in Bengal, by which the company acquired the real power, while the responsibility for administration rested on the shoulders of the Nawab of Bengal. Warren Hastings ended the dual Government.


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