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British Conquest of Bengal



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Partition of Bengal The East India Company secured valuable privileges in 1717 under a royal farman by the Mughal Emperor, which had granted the Company the freedom to export and import their goods in Bengal without paying taxes and right to issue passes or dastaks for the movements of such goods. The Company servants were also permitted to trade but were not covered by this farman. They were required to pay the same taxes as Indian merchants. This farman was a perpetual source of conflict between the Company and the Nawabs of Bengal. All the Nawabs of Bengal from Mushid Quli Khan to Alivardi Khan, had objected to the English interpretation of the farman of 1717. They had compelled the Company to pay lumps sums to their treasury, and firmly suppressed the misuse of dastaks.

Situation was worsened in 1756, when the yound and quick tempered Siraj-ud-Daulah succeeded his grandfather, Alivardi Khan.

When the Nawab ordered the English to demolish their fortifications at Calcutta, the British refused to do so. English joined a conspiracy organised by the enemies of the yound Nawab to place Mir Jafar on the throne of Bengal, they presented Siraj-ud-Daulah with an impossible set of demands. Both sides realised that a war to the finish would have to be fought between them. The met for the battle on the field of Plassey, 20 miles from Murshidabad, on 23rd June 1757.

Black Hole Tragedy, 1756
It is said that 146 English prisoners, held by the Mughals, were crowded into a small chamber that had a single, small window on a June night in 1756. Several of prisoners died of suffocation and wounds. This aroused the indignation of Englishmen in India. However, historians treat this tragedy as a myth rather than reality.

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