The Battle of Plassey was a crucial victory of the British East India Company. They won over a much larger force of the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies in 1757, under the guidance of Robert Clive. The battle helped the Company take hold of control of Bengal. Over the next 100 years, they seized control of most of the Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, and Afghanistan. The battle took place at Plassey on the banks of the Hooghly River, of Murshidabad, West Bengal. The opponents were the Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, and the British East India Company. He succeeded Alivardi Khan (his maternal grandfather). Siraj-Ud-Daulah had become the Nawab of Bengal the year before, and he had ordered the English to stop the extension of their strengthening. Robert Clive bribed Mir Jafar, the commander-in-chief of the Nawab Siraj Ud Daula’s army. He also promised to make him Nawab of Bengal. Clive captured Calcutta after defeating Siraj-Ud-Daulah at Plassey in 1757. Here I will try to discuss, the fate of the Plassey Conspirators.
1. Mir Jafar
Mir Jafar served as the commander of the Bengal army under Siraj Ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal, but betrayed him during the Battle of Plassey. He succeeded Daulah after the British victory in 1757. Mir Jafar received military support from the East India Company until 1760 when he did not satisfy various British demands. British company officials proposed that since Mir Jafar was unable to cope with the difficult situations, Mir Qasim, Jafar’s son-in-law, should act as Deputy Subahdar.
In October 1760, the company forced him to step down from power and support in favor of Qasim. However, the British East India Company finally overthrew Qasim as well due to disputes over trade policies. Mir Jafar was restored as the Nawab in 1763 with the support of the company. Mir Qasim, however, refused to simply accept this and went to war against the company. Jafar ruled until his death in1765. Mir Jafar died of leprosy and lies buried at the Jafarganj Cemetery in Murshidabad, West Bengal. Mir Jafar remains a notorious figure in Indian history. He has become a symbol of intimate betrayal and deceit among Bengalis.
2. Yar Lutuf Khan
He was a minister of Siraj-Ud-Daula, Nawab of Bengal. He assembled troops near the battlefield but made no move to actually join the battle. Siraj-Ud-Daulah’s army consisted of 50,000 soldiers, 40 cannons, and 10 war elephants were defeated by 3,000 soldiers of Col. Robert Clive. The battle ended in only 11 hours. Many historians claim that he has been murdered by the British just after the war.
3. Jagat Seth
Jagat Seth was from a Bengali Jain banking family. The family sometimes mentioned as the House of Jagat Seth. They have a banking and money laundering family business from Murshidabad. Jagat Seth took care of the mint and treasury accounts of Bengal during the Nawabi period. He played a major role in the conspiracy involving the imprisonment and ultimate killing of Nawab Siraj Ud-Daulah.
His house, complete with a secret tunnel as well as an underground chamber, where secret deals were hatched. Now it has been converted into a museum. After the Battle of Plassey, Jagat Seth, Mahtab was captured and shot dead on the orders of Mir Qasim. Jagat Seth was considered to be a traitor as he financed the British during the Battle of Plassey.
Umichand was a local merchant of the Bengal Nawabi period in India. He was one among the principal authors of the conspiracy against Nawab and related to the treaty negotiated by Clive before the Battle of Plassey in 1757. Several houses owned by Umichand in Calcutta are mentioned in connection with the tragedy of the Black Hole in 1756. It is on record that he suffered heavy financial losses at that point . English betrayed him by the false commitment of giving money that would be seized from Murshidabad.
After hearing the news of betrayal he sank gradually into idiocy, languished a few months, and then died. However, as a matter of fact, he survived for ten years, until 1767. As per his will, he donated 2 lakhs (INR) to the Foundling Hospital (where his name may be seen in the list of donatee as “a black merchant of Calcutta”) and also to the Magdalen Hospital in London.
5. Raja Rai Durlabh
Raja Rai Durlabh, the Nawab’s Diwan or finance minister. The Nawab also moved an outsized division of his army under Raja Rai Durlabh to Plassey, Murshidabad. He also not participated in the battle. He died just after the battle of Plassey.
6. Col. Robert Clive
Robert Clive, 1st Clive of Plassey, soldier and first British administrator of Bengal, was one of the creators of British power in India. Clive employed Umichand, as an agent between Mir Jafar and the British officials. Umichand threatened to betray Clive unless he was guaranteed, in the agreement itself, INR 3 Crore. To fool him a second fictitious agreement was shown to him with a clause to this effect.
On 22 November 1774 Clive died, aged 49, at his Berkeley Square home in London. There was no investigation on his death and he cut his throat with a paper-knife, while a few newspapers reported his death as due to an apoplectic fit or stroke. One 20th-century biographer, John Watney, concluded: “He didn’t die from a self-inflicted wound … He died with a blunt paper-knife brought on by an overdose of drugs”. While Clive left no suicide note, Johnson wrote that he “had acquired his fortune by such crimes that his consciousness of them impelled him to chop his own throat”. He was buried in St Margaret’s Parish Church, near his birthplace in Shropshire.
7. Ghaseti Begum
Ghaseti Begum was the eldest daughter of Alivardi Khan, Nawab of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa during 1740–1758. After the death of Nawab Alivardi Khan, Ghaseti Begum tried to crown Shaukat Jang, the son of her second sister. But Siraj Ud-Daulah managed to rise to the power of Bengal. Eventually, she secretly conspired against him with the help of Mir Jafar along with the merchants Umichand and Jagat Seth. After the fall of Siraj Ud-Daulah in the Battle of Plassey, Ghaseti was imprisoned in the Jinjira Palace by Mir Jafar.
The two sisters were taken to two separate rooms in a barge at night. None of them knew about each other’s presence. Next to it was another barge. Late at night, the sailors went to next barge. The barge that the two sisters were riding was built using special techniques. A few large holes were made in the bottom of it and they were closed with nails. Sailors untied the locks as a result; water started entering the boat very fast. He had to give up his life in the trap of those whom he once considered dearer than blood relations. Ghaseti Begum was helplessly drowned in the waters of Buriganga.
8. Raja Rajballabh
Raja Rajballabh , the Diwan of Dhaka and subsequently the faujdar of Munger, Bihar. A Vaidya by caste, he started his career as a muhuri or treasurer. From that petty official position, he rose rapidly in the service of the Mughals and became the Diwan of Dhaka with the title of ‘Maharaja’. Subsequently he rose to the position of the Faujdar of Munger. An ambitious man, Rajballabh used his official position and wealth to acquire landed estate.
Rajballabh was an accomplice of Mirjafar and Ghaseti Begum. Rajballabh incurred the displeasure of Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daula for the misappropriation of a huge fund during his tenure as the diwan of Dhaka. After the battle, Nawab Mir Quasim suspected him of conspiring with the English and put him to death in 1763, by drowning.
9. Sadiq Ali Khan Bahadur (Mir Miran)
Stories of the 1757 conspiracy echo through Murshidabad even today, with Mir Jafar and his son Mir Miran their central point. Mir Miran who ordered Shiraj’s murder died of a lightning hit.
10. Mir Qasim
Mir Qasim was the Nawab of Bengal from 1760 to 1763. He was installed as Nawab with the support of the British East India Company, replacing Mir Jafar, his father-in-law. Having lost all his men and influence after his defeat at Buxar, Mir Qasim was expelled from his camp in 1764. He fled away to Rohilakhand, Allahabad, Gohad, and Jodhpur, and eventually settling at Kotwal, near Delhi.
Mir Qasim died in miserable poverty possibly from malnutrition, at Kotwal, near Delhi in May 1777. His two shawls, the only belongings left by him, had to be sold to pay for his funeral.