Conquest of Bengal: Black Hole Tragedy

In the previous post, we have studied about the Dastak and misuse of Dastak by the officers of East India Company. Now, we know the East India Company had three establishments in India. Bombay Presidency, Madras Presidency and Bengal Presidency.


Nawab of Bengal: Siraj-ud-Daula
Nawab of Bengal: Siraj-ud-Daula

Siraj-ud-Daula was young and dynamic. But He was suffering from the disease of impatient, ill-temperament. The company was enthusiastic because of its victory in South. So, they wanted to dictate their term in Bengal. For this, they wanted to clash with Nawab and in this scenario, the company started fortification of Fort William without permission of Nawab.

This was the attack on the sovereignty of Nawab and in reaction to this Nawab attacked Fort William and occupied it. Roger Drake, governor of Fort William escaped and took shelter on an island called Fulta. Although Siraj was successful in its 1st attempt against English. But he committed following mistakes,

  • He handed over the charge of Fort William to a civilian officer Manik Chand.
  • He failed to access the character of East India Company, which was working on the principle of Capitalism and Mercantilism.

Role of Robert Clive in Bengal

The tension in Bengal alarmed Madras presidency. They immediately deputed Robert Clive to Bengal as a Governor in 1756 to handle the situation. Robert Clive took the following steps,

  • He recovered Fort William by bribing Manik Chand. He also compelled Siraj-ud-Daula for the treaty of Ali Nagar (9th February 1757).
  • Robert Clive was already enthusiastic about his achievements in South. So, the enthusiasm increased as he succeeded to take support from a number of traitors. The traitors were Mir Zafar, Rai Durlabh, Qadim Khan, Omi Chand etc.

Black Hole Tragedy

Black Hole Tragedy
Black Hole Tragedy

After strengthening his position in Fort William, Clive started conspiring against Siraj-ud-Daula. His first step was defamation of Siraj on the issue of Black Hole Tragedy.

According to British historian Holwell, Siraj after occupying Fort William imprisoned 146 people or locked in a room having small space. This led to the number of casualties. So, on this ground, Siraj was declared as a murderer.

It was possibly propaganda of East India Company. Because this is not mentioned by any contemporary historian. After this, Clive started preparing for direct war. This time British East India company attacked Chandernagore French settlement without the permission of Siraj. So, this was again the attack on the sovereignty of Nawab leading to Battle of Plassey.

We will read about the Battle of Plassey and Battle of Buxar in next coming post.

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