Plassey: A tale of Trust and Betrayal. Part I


The night had ended. A new day had begun. The rain had stopped but there was a constant cool breeze. The smell of the rain soaked mud indicated that there was still more of rain to come. He was in his tent, confused and puzzled by the night’s cruel nature. That was a great setback especially after being in the upper hand. Mother Nature had played tricks. He knew, he had to do something fast. There were a 35000 infantry outside his tent waiting for his orders. But he could not think. And of course, he could not be blamed. He was just 23. And this was something that he had not imagined. He knew he was not as great as his grandfather Ali Vardi Khan. But he had to prove his worth. It had been just a year that he had succeeded the throne after Ali Vardi died suffering from dropsy. He was then a young man blindfolded with power. His uncontrollable inclination to liquor and gambling had cost him almost everything. He was not the rightful choice according to many of the eminent nobles. But it was destiny. Ali Vardi loved him and knew that he had the sense of judgement and most importantly he was honest. Ali Vardi named him the Siraj-ud-daullah meaning “light of the State” and he was now the Nawab of Bengal.
But today, the situation was different. Siraj had to make a move. But last night’s incident had a huge impact on him. Right after ascending to the throne Siraj had made some changes in the ministry. His two most trusted men Mir Madan and Mohanlal were promoted to higher ranks. This resulted in jealousy among other nobles especially Mir Jafar who was highly offended after being replaced by Mir Madan as the new “Bakshi” or the paymaster of the Army. Last night, the treacherous British opened fire when they realized that Siraj’s army had made a blunder. The army of the British East India Company with some 3000 soldiers were a no match to Siraj’s huge army with 35000 infantry and 18000 cavalry. But the only advantage they had was the knowledge and experience of the gunpowder ammunition. Mir Madan was the commander of the army. The heavy firing from Siraj’s side had forced the British army to retreat. But then Mother Nature had a surprise. Suddenly there was a huge rainstorm. The rain washed away all their ammunition. But the British were no fools. They had the knowledge of fighting rain. So, they skilfully covered them with tarpaulin sheets. But this was not known in the Indian side. The rain stopped at midnight. Mir Madan came to Siraj to inform him about the situation.
Mir Madan: “My Lord, rain has left all our ammunitions wet. I have already sent a message to Murshidabad. Our ammunitions will arrive by the morning.”
Siraj: “tomorrow morning? Won’t it be too late? What do we do tonight? Just sit and gaze?”
Mir Madan:” We have already occupied our positions. The enemies were forced to retreat .Today’s progress makes me believe that they won’t be able to sustain us for another 2 days.”
Siraj suddenly felt that Mir Madan was right and that his long desire of vengeance against the British was about to come true.
Siraj: “then why do we wait for 2 days?”
Mir Madan:” We do not have ammunition Sir.”
Siraj: “But we have a cavalry my dear friend. And I don’t think our size is anywhere a match to them. Rain must have washed away their ammunition too. This rain may be a boon in disguise. Let us not delay. Let us rip off these foreigners tonight.”
Mir Madan thought for a while as he was not sure whether such a hasty decision would be fruitful. He asked
Mir Madan: “are you sure sir?”
Siraj:” How dare you ask such a question you stupid filthy creature. I am the Nawab of Bengal and do you think I will need to rethink my decision. Go get your cavalry ready. I want victory before dawn.”
Mir Madan left to carry out his orders.
Siraj was known for his stubbornness and especially his bad temper. He could not stand anyone questioning his authority. He did not hesitate to humiliate anyone to any extent. And perhaps this was another reason for his growing enemies.

It was midnight and Mir Madan charged with 5000 cavalry rode towards the British with one intention- Victory. The rest of the cavalry were covering him from behind. The British on the other hand were surprised. Major Kilpatrick ran towards Colonel Robert Clive’s tent to inform him about the sudden attack.
Clive: “cavalry? Has he gone mad?”
Kilpatrick: “Sire, they are around 5000 horsemen riding towards our camp.”
Clive: “ask our men to take positions.”
Kilpatrick: “Sire, may be this is a trap. May be they want us to engage with them while they attack from the east.”
Clive: “no Major. I think it’s a blunder. Prepare our men and ask them to start firing only when his army is in the fatal range. Let no one go back alive.”
Clive’s orders were followed. All the British army were prepared and pretended to stay unaware of Mir Madan’s army. Mir Madan led himself and his soldiers to the trap. When Mir Madan was about 100 yards from the camp he realized his blunder. But that was too late. Before he could retreat his horse, the British had opened fire. His men were killed mercilessly. Mir Madan knew that he could not return back now. He rode fast towards their camp and slacked some of their heads. But then Clive did not want any prisoners. He took his time and aimed his left chest. The bullet went through Mir Madan’s heart like a dragon ball. He fell off from his horse. His head hit the still wet ground. Blood gushed out from the bullet hole. But that was not the end of tragedy. A canon ball came and hit him on his thigh. Mir Madan took his last breath. When his death news spread, the rest of the army went insane. Some fled away, some returned and the rest of the lot were killed. Mir Madan’s body was never found.

to be continued…

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