Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Battle of Buxar,1764 - The East India–nearing take over of Bengal

Mogul Shah Alam with the British. wikipedia.org
Shuja-ud Daulah,Nawob of Awadh. awadh, in
Shah Alam and the British- grant of diwani1765. www.bbc.com
After the arrival of Robert Clive in Bengal from Madras, the position of Nawob of Bengal became critical. After several intrigues, skirmishes and war finally the last Nawob Mir Qasim fled Bengal and sought the council of the Nawob of Qudh.

The Nawob of Oudh (Awadh) Shuja-Ud-Daulah was not happy over the British company's  activities in the neighboring province - Bengal particularly after the arrival of Clive on the scene and had been planning to drive the British out of Bengal at the earliest opportunity because he knew very well that the British company would go after him after complete take over of Bengal and a sword of Damocles was hanging right over his head. The Mogul emperor was also in a similar situation and didn't like the Indian provinces falling one by one to the British company's control. A confederacy was formed with the Nawob of Awadh Shauja-ud-Daulah, the titular emperor Shah Alam  and Mir Qasim with a view to recovering Bengal from the British claws. Now with a firm conviction to drive out the British traders, the three disgruntled rulers united together as one force.
Battle of Buxar 1764. colonialism-india-chinaweekly.com
 After Robert Clive's diabolical victory in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the morale of the British company was very high and their main aim was nothing short of ''complete take over of Bengal" and their target came nearer to them than expected. The newly combined army of Indian rulers  met the British Army - consisting of  857 British soldiers and 5297 Indian sepoys at Buxar, Bengal on October 23,1764. The East India company  forces led by Major Hector Monroe inflicted crushing defeat on the combined Army of three rulers consisting  of  40,000 men. In the aftermath, Mir Qasim, to avoid being caught and punished, escaped from there, fled to north-west and died near Delhi obscure - unsung. As for the Mogul ruler, Shah Alam, he surrendered to the British; Sujha-ud-daula was left alone and ultimately he lost his province Quadh and his crown.

The Company negotiated with the defeated rulers from a position of strength and obtained the Diwani rights (revenue authority) over 100,000, 000 acres (400,000.00 sq. km) - treaty of Allahabad (1765) - which included the rights to administer and collect land-revenue (land tax) in Bengal - the region of present-day Bangladesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and U.P.  Shah Alam was forced to cough up a fine of five million rupees. After negotiations, the Treaty of Allahabad was signed. All his pre -war possessions were returned except for the districts of Karra and Allahabad. He became a pensioner, with a monthly pension of 450,000.00 rupees. Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula was restored to Oudh, with a subsidiary force and a guarantee of defense. Mir Qasim, the (puppet) Nawob of Bengal, was ruined by the defeat and later he was deposed by the company. In 1772, the Company also obtained the Nizāmat of Bengal (the "exercise of criminal jurisdiction") and thereby full sovereignty of the expanded Bengal Presidency. During the period, 1773 to 1785, very little had changed; the only exceptions were the addition of the dominions of the Raja of Banares to the western boundary of the Bengal Presidency, and the  Salsette Island to the Bombay Presidency.
Mogul Shah Alam,India.commons.wikipedia.org
The East India company became a Mogul revenue agent for Bengal and later Bihar and by 1793 company's control over a vast area was virtual. Thus the battle at Buxar completed the remaining job left behind after the war at plassey-1757.

In short, the scheming British subsequently through a web of intrigues, betrayal and espionage reduced once prosperous Indian Maharajahs and Nawobs to panhandlers,  seeking alms (pensions) from them. The British never felt ashamed of their lousy treatment of Indian rulers,  who were once cooperative and hospitable to them,  when they opened up trading posts in various parts of India. Now,  here on  for the British it was an open sesame - a vast Indian land  awaiting to be swallowed.


        (corrections made October, 28, 2015)