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Friday, April 20, 2018

A saga of betrayal and colonial intrigues

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Mahfuz Ul Hasib Chowdhury scrutinizes a textual drive glancing back to the Battle of Plassey

The Battle of Plassey (known as Palashi in Bengali) is one of the most tragic and most significant events in the history of Indian subcontinent. The resources, sovereignty and independence of India including Bengal fell into the grips of the colonial British forces through the defeat of Nabob Siraj Ud Dawla in the Battle of Plassey on 23rd June 1757 as a result of palatial conspiracies against the Nabob by the people he trusted.

Palashi Tragedyr Itibritto (The Tragic Tale of Plassey) is an illustrious and referential book by Jehad Uddin. This book was published by Bangla Kotha during the Ekushey Book Fair of 2014 while it was reprinted by the same publisher in February 2018. This book contains a broad range of evidences, historic facts and figures which have made this text a highly substantial source of enlightenment and augmentation of knowledge on the Battle of Plassey.

Nabob Siraj Ud Dawla's defeat in the Battle of Plassey has glorified and immortalized him. Siraj Ud Dawla fought to his last breath to save Bengal from the claws of the British forces and he did not show any sign of giving up while the battle was going on. Siraj Ud Dawla had plenty of opportunities to compromise with his Britishcounterparts but he did not do so.

While speaking on the tragedy that knocked down Siraj Ud Dawla and referring to the conspirators that betrayed him take us back to the pages of history which are full of instances reflecting the vicious misdeeds committed through deceptions by sycophants. It is widely known that Siraj Ud Dawla was deceived by his general Mir Jafar. Mir Jafar, according to history, had taken bribes from the British army for staging Siraj Ud Dawla's defeat.

At the same time Mir Jafar was allured by East India Company's commander Robert Clive to make him the Nabob of Bengal after eliminating Siraj Ud Dawla. Not just Mir Jafar, some more courtiers of Siraj Ud Dawla broke his trust including Umi Chand, Raj Ballav, Mohammadi Begh and Ray Durlov.

However, Nabob Siraj Ud Dawla's defeat in the Battle of Plassey has glorified and immortalized him. Siraj Ud Dawla fought to his last breath to save Bengal from the claws of the British forces and he did not show any sign of giving up while the battle was going on. Siraj Ud Dawla had plenty of opportunities to compromise with his British counterparts but he did not do so. His honor for the sovereignty of Bengal and its people was the most valuable thing to him which is why he sacrificed his own life.

Dying on the battlefield like a hero is far more dignified than packing hands with enemies-that is the lesson we get from Siraj Ud Dawla's life. Author Jehad Uddin has also spotlighted on this unique characteristic of Siraj Ud Dawla in his book Palashi Tragedyr Itibritto. The patriotic norms and emblems of gallantry we gather from the martyrdom of Siraj Ud Dawla have encouraged us for years after years to hold our heads high with unflinching self-esteem.

History says that Siraj Ud Dawla was born in Murshidabad in 1733 and he embraced martyrdom on 3rd July 1757. He took over the ruling authority of Bengal at a very tender age. According to this book by Jehad Uddin, Siraj Ud Dawla was admired for his bravery even by his enemies. Colonel Malleson wrote in his memoirs, "Whatever may have been his faults, Siraj Ud Dawla had neither betrayed his master nor sold his country." This remark from a British army officer shows that Siraj Ud Dawla remained loyal to Bengal through all ordeals.

A great deal of books, plays and stage shows have been so far dedicated to the history of Siraj Ud Dawla but the true features of the Nabob were not objectively presented in all those stuff. However, Jehad Uddin has made the best of his authorial efforts to do justice to the sanctity and magnificence which characterized Siraj Ud Dawla.

Time and divinity do not pardon traitors. The ultimate misfortune that engulfed Mir Jafar, his son Miron and East India Company's commander Robert Clive are vivid implications of the truth that betrayers always had to pay a big price for their treason. Mir Jafar had a painful death suffering from leprosy for a long time.

Vincent Smith has stated in Oxford History of India that Miron was assassinated by the British army secretly and later on it was propagated that he got killed by lightning. On the other hand, Robert Clive, the mastermind of all evils, committed suicide on 22nd November 1774. Besides, Siraj Ud Dawla's assassin Mohammadi Begh lost mental balance and killed himself by diving into a well.

Jehad Uddin has narrated in his book that after the assassination of Siraj Ud Dawla the British troops headed by Robert Clive thoroughly plundered the wealth of Bengal which led to the severe famine in Bengal during 1770. The Battle of Plassey teaches us to love our motherland at all costs. It illuminates us with the noble traits that Nabob Siraj Ud Dawla harbored while he held the helms of Bengal.

Author Jehad Uddin is currently a Deputy Secretary under Finance Ministry, Bangladesh government. He has so far penned a remarkable number of books on history, literature and corporate issues. Jehad Uddin anchors different television programs too. Simultaneously, he is well-known for his research works on national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.


The reviewer is a literary analyst for The Asian Age

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