Siraj ud-Daulah was one of the most famous and the last self-governing Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. Under his reign, which lasted from 9 April 1756 to 23 June 1757, Siraj ud-Daulah stood his ground against the British ‘East India Company,’ which had begun capturing parts of Bengal. Siraj ud-Daulah was one of those few Indian rulers who knew the intention of the British right from the beginning, which prompted him to act against British colonization in Bengal. Siraj ud-Daulah’s strong resistance against the British led to the famous ‘Battle of Plassey,’ during which the Nawab of Bengal was deceived by a group of his own men, headed by Mir Jafar. 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.
Pandit Sunderlal, the celebrated historian and a confident of Mahatma Gandhi writes: “Siraj-ud-Daula has been described in English history books as a licentious profligate and drunkard of the worst type. Siraj-ud-Daula, in deference to the death-bed advice of his maternal grandfather, Alivardi Khan, never touched liquor since the day of his ascending the throne up to the last day of his life. (Scrafton’s Reflections, as quoted in Banglar Itihas, Nawabi Amal by Kali Prasanna Bandopadhyaya.) His private life was unblemished except possibly for such weakness as were common to the lives of 99% of Indian or British rulers of that day. Similarly, grave injustice has been done to the character and private lives of Mir Kassim, Haider Ali, Tipu Sulatan, Nand Coomar, and other Indian heroes and heroines.”
At least 90% of the books on the history of India prescribed in the curriculums of Indian schools and colleges, particularly till the end of the first half of the 20th century had no greater factual value than ordinary fiction, records Sunderlal in “How India Lost Her Freedom”. He adds, “Such works of history are extremely harmful and have exerted and are exerting an extremely poisonous influence on the developing mind of Indian youth.”
The history books prepared during that period did mention that India had always been an object of invasion by foreign people through its north-western frontiers. The Muslim invaders of India are described as a barbarous and fanatical people who had for a thousand years before the advent of the British, subjected India to their tyrannical rule, had destroyed the ancient Hindu religion and culture and forcibly converted to Islam crores of Indians. The Muslim rulers were branded by nature only licentious and fanatical pillagers. Even the greatest and best of the Moghul Emperors are painted as hypocritical and hostile to Hindus. Hinduism and to Hindustan. The Indians are told that the Muslims did no good to India and that the period of their rule had absolutely nothing to its credit!
Panditji quotes the European historians and writers extensively to expose the sinister designs of the East India Company whose only goal ‘was to squeeze as large as possible a fortune out of the country as quickly as might be’.
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(The writer is a Socio-political Historian. E-mail: [email protected] )