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EDITS & ADDITIONS
In "Riyazu-s-salatin", A History of Bengal, Ghulam Husain clearly says that Siraj-ud-saulah attacked the English garrison at Kolkata first over the sheltering of Raja Rajballab's family.
There is too much emotion and opinion in this article. Too much time is spent on the character of Siraj, and the rich historical record of events he was involved in has been neglected. This shows up all the more starkly when I reorganize the article into sections.
I feel that some of these stories (such as the one about the ships on the river) should be taken with more than a small grain of salt, so I've deleted it since there was no clear cited reference to it.
While the "Black Hole of Calcutta" is gruesome, the fact is that the torture and killing of 150 men and women was quite routine in those years; just a few years ago Ali Vardi Khan had sacked sacked Patna and allowed the Rohilla Afghans to rape and pillage to their hearts content. True or not, the only reason this episode is so prominent in historical record is that it involved the eventual victors.
--Shanky 15:19, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
In modern India and Bangladesh there is a strong desire to make Siraj out to be a hero simply because he attacked the British, and the article reflected this comfortable notion. Unfortunately all 18th century sources confirm that Siraj was in fact a very sick man, and his darker nature (the main source of his downfall) should not be ignored simply because it does not conform to what we would like Siraj to have been.
I took out the comment about Siraj being as bad as any European monarch of the period, which simply isn't true!!! I also added some 18th century sources on this matter.
Tim Barrett: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Corrections: Siraj "didn't" attack the British, rather it is the other way around, if you did your homework on history. I would also refrain from putting a lot of trust on 18th century accounts, because most, if not all, of them were written by English historians glorifying their conquest over Barbarian rulers. Imagine yourself as a 19th Century English historian, how would you picture someone the English mercenaries have deposed and killed? Good? I doubt that. The accounts of his "sick" nature are one-sided to some extent, and definitely NOT the main source of his downfall. I agree that he wasn't a noble saint, and had many character flaws, but as I said, the accounts from 18th century historians are somewhat too much one-sided to be trustworthy. For example, the example of Siraj's atrocity, the Black Hole of Calcutta has been debunked successfully by recent historians. To make the article balanced, and not one-sided like the colonial view, both allegations and rebuttals need to be there. Thanks. --Ragib 21:42, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments. I think you underestimate the power of the free press in 18th century (and 19th) century England. The East India Company were subject to very scathing criticism, for example I draw your attention to "Thoughts on Improving the Government of the British Territorial Possessions in the East Indies." (Printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand 1780 - Anonymous). or the riotous "The Intrigues of a Nabob: or, Bengal the Fittest Soil for the Growth of Lust, Injustice and Dishonesty."(Printed for the author 1780). Unfortunately Indians often discredit pro-British contemporary sources as "biased" and use anti-British contemporary sources as "authentic material". On most occasions the only thing biased is the historian.
"Siraj "didn't" attack the British, rather it is the other way around, if you did your homework on history."
THE BRITISH NEVER ATTACKED SIRAJ FIRST!
With what army? When? How?
Please tell me more - I can't wait for your answer.
"The example of Siraj's atrocity, the Black Hole of Calcutta has been debunked successfully by recent historians." And I have debunked those historians! I went back to the original 18th century material they quoted and found that they are a bunch of charlatans and cantankerous liars. For example, it has been repeated a thousand times by these "historians" that Holwell stated that all the victims were British. This is the central pillar of their critique. So, I did some private study and found Holwell's original account on microfilm, in which he makes it abundantly clear that there were all races and nationalities within the Hole. I then tracked down Holwell's list of victims and survivors, found in:
Busteed, H.E.: Echoes From Old Calcutta Being Chiefly Reminiscences of the days of Warren Hastings, Frances and Impey (Thacker Spink & Co., Calcutta 1888) Appendix A, p.340.
Which also very clearly states in several places that Indians, Anglo-Indians and British were all in the whole.
The objections to Holwell's story seems to be as follows:
1. Holwell and certain soldiers amongst them, knew the dimensions of the room into which they were going to be placed. So, why did they not resist?
i.) Holwell was one of the first into the room. His account clearly states that the crowd who were being aggressively herded inside at gunpoint pushed him forward. He did indeed comment that had they known the internal dimensions of the room, 'we should at all events have rushed upon the guard, and been, as the lesser evil, by our own choice cut to pieces.' The crucial word here is 'we', which implied the crowd as a whole. The great majority of the people were civilians or militia and in total ignorance of the size of the cell, which served as a military lock-up. These militia or non-combatants were, in all likelihood, the ones that surged forward in order to get away from the surly looking troops advancing upon them. This rush of people pushed Holwell and his associates into the room.
Throughout history tens of millions of ordinary people have been herded to their certain deaths at gunpoint, without any resistance - it is a common phenomenon. Millions of Jews were murdered in World War II with quite meagre opposition, considering the scale of the tragedy. There exists sad footage of groups of Jewish men actually running to line up along the edge of pits to be gunned down and similar footage exists of Japanese soldiers pushing Chinese civilians into pits and burying them alive. Why should exhausted and disarmed Europeans of the 18th century have acted any differently from Europeans of the 20th century, who were similarly packed into crowded gas chambers? Human psychology is a strange thing. History is littered with instances where a determined crowd could have escaped certain death by simply rushing their guards or instantaneously fleeing as a single body - yet rarely has it happened. Without weapons or organisation and under armed authority, a tiny armed minority has always easily controlled demoralised groups of people.
2. There are certain doubts about Holwell's good character, as Clive in a letter dated January 1757, stated, 'Nothing but the want of a boat prevented [Holwell's] escape and flight with the rest.' He was a self-serving and unscrupulous individual whose statements must be treated with caution.
ii.) It is strange how some Indian writers have produced Sir Robert Clive, their great bugbear, as a character reference! Sir Robert Clive was notorious for his mood swings and not everything he uttered can be taken at face value. Many would like to claim that Holwell was a cowardly individual, but the evidence is very much to the contrary as we often read independent accounts of him being in the thick of the action during the siege. Holwell is sometimes depicted as a man with a political and racial grudge against Indians, which prompted him to lie and exaggerate in his account of the Black Hole - however all the evidence is very much to the contrary.
Holwell often proved to be fair minded and honourable. For example, on the 2nd June 1760, 'in interests of justice and mercy' he brought before the Council in Calcutta the following case of flogging, during which he is quoted as saying:
'Mr Barton [the accused], laying in wait seized Benautrom Chattojee opposite to the door of Council, and with the assistance of his bearers and two peons, tied his hands and feet, swung him upon a bamboo like a hog, carried him to his own house, there with his own hands beat him in the most cruel manner, almost to the deprivation of his life, endeavoured to force beef into his mouth, to the irreparable loss of his Brahman’s caste; and all this without giving ear to, or suffering the man to speak in his own defence to him.' The above statement clearly shows much sympathy with the sufferings of the aggrieved servant, and the very fact that he brought the matter before Calcutta's highest governing body speaks volumes about the man's true character and attitude towards Indians. John Zephaniah Holwell was the first Englishman to promote the idea of Hinduism as a religion and a nationality, and of it being rich in philosophy. These published thoughts were quite revolutionary as Europeans had previously described the religion largely in scathing terms: it had formerly been a 'detestable religion' with 'mad and foppish rites and ceremonies' with 'wicked sacrifices and impious costumes'. Holwell, in the most eloquent and learned detail, challenged such attitudes and published his researches in: Interesting Historical Events, relating to the Provinces of Bengal and the Empire of Indostan. . . As also the Mythology and Cosmogony, Fasts and Festivals of the Gentoos, followers of the Shastah, and a Dissertation on the Metempsychosis, commonly, though erroneously, called the Pythagorean doctrine, in which Englishmen were asked not to apply their own rigorous standards to the Indians, and rather to let the Indians be guided by their own inspiration and genius. I conclude that Holwell was a rather enlightened character for his times and not the type of individual to spin a complicated web of lies for petty gain.
3.Raymond, a chronicler of late 18th century Bengal, wrote 'Not a word here of those English shut up in the Black Hole…. This much is certain, that this event… is not known in Bengal; and even in Calcutta it is ignored by every man.'
iii.) After such a heinous experience it is a wonder that any of the survivors staid in India at all! In the years after the event, the white inhabitants of Calcutta were either newcomers or returnees who had lived with the subsequent shame of having left their countrymen to such a horrendous fate.
It is also worth considering that even by 18th century standards, India was a land starved of news and information - prior to the incident and for many years afterwards (as already stated) the country did not possess a single newspaper nor were there any books being printed in Calcutta. If Raymond's comments are to be believed, it comes as no surprise that the facts were not generally known. In Holwell's list of Black Hole survivors, he gives the names of only eleven Europeans, including Mrs. Carey. Of these Richard Court, was afterwards nominated to Council for 'behaving very well' - but did not have much time to enjoy this promotion or produce any interesting memoir as he died in 1758. His house was purchased by the Government in that year. Another survivor on the list, Ensign Walcot, died soon after he was released at Murshidabad - which left only nine Europeans to tell the tale. Of these we have three recorded affirmations of the story, one informally related, another formally related and a third published. In other words, a third of the European survivors recorded their stories each in their own way, which is probably as good as can be expected. Orme was a very learned contemporary historian researched the incident probably as early as the late 1750's. The first volume of his epic work being printed before Holwell's narrative was published. Orme does not give his sources but from the superb detail of his descriptions it is evident that he gathered first hand accounts of what were quite recent events. He categorically confirms the Black Hole story, but slight and pardonable differences in his appraisal clearly relates to the fact that Holwell was not his source. Nevertheless, we have no end of historians today who, a quarter of a millennium after the event, claim to be wiser than scholarly Orme. Despite this dearth of witnesses, there is much evidence to suggest that the affair was being spoken of within living memory of the incident. In 1768, whilst residing in Calcutta, Mrs. Nathaniel Kindersley wrote: 'About the middle of the town, on the river's edge, stands the old fort, memorable for the catastrophe of the Black Hole, so much talked of in England; it was in one of the apartments in it that the wretched sufferers were confined.' Rear Admiral John S. Stavorinus , during his sojourn in the area between 1768 and 1771 noted: 'Near the tank, is a stone monument, erected in memory of thirty English prisoners, both men and women, who, when Calcutta was taken by the nawab Surajah Dowlah, were shut up in a narrow prison, without any refreshment, and suffocated for want of fresh air.' Again, in the mid 1770's, Philip D. Stanhope or 'Asiaticus', writes: '...the Black Hole, rendered famous by the deaths of our unfortunate countrymen, when the Nabob Surajah Dowlah took Calcutta by storm. An English lady , who saw her husband perish at her feet, survived that miserable catastrophe, and the tyrant was so captivated with her beauty, that he promoted her to the honour of his bed, and she remained seven years in his seraglio, when she was released, at the request of Governor Vansittart, and is now alive at Calcutta.' Far from being unknown in Bengal, the event seems to have been the talk of the town for decades! The incident was also mentioned by the artist William Hodges , who visited the city in the 1780's - but by the end of this decade the story as told in the city seems to have become quite distorted and exaggerated. Grandpre, a French officer, who wrote A Voyage to the Indian Ocean and to Bengal, undertaken in 1789-90, when alluding to the taking of Calcutta, says:
The conqueror, when he got possession of the Fort at Calcutta, had the prisoners which he took there thrust one upon another into a hole outside the Fort, form which those only were fortunate enough to come out alive who happened to be uppermost in the heap. The rest were suffocated. In remembrance of so flagrant an act of barbarity, the English, who were conquerors in their turn, erected a monument between the old Fort and the right wing of the building occupied by the civil officers of the Company on the very spot where the deed was committed. In 1888, H. E. Busteed, comments upon this remark: 'It may be presumed that this writer merely related the gossip which he gathered in Calcutta itself, only thirty-four years after the event which he does so erroneously describes.'
4.There were varying figures mentioned for fatalities in the Black Hole, therefore we are to believe that the entire story must be called into question.
iv.) It must be remembered that the room was jam packed and only partially illuminated. Busteed (Echoes from Old Calcutta, 1888) sums up the possible confusion as follows:
The retreats by the boats was such a hurried and disorganised one, that it is very unlikely that every woman and child but one was got off. Holwell and Cooke might easily have been mistaken considering that the thrusting into the prison occurred in the dark, and that in the morning they were very unfit for any observation, even were time and opportunity for it afforded, which was not the case, as the dead were immediately thrown promiscuously into the ditch of the unfinished ravelin and covered with earth. At the time, estimates of how many people were in the hole varied from 146 to 170. Estimates of the fatalities range from 123 to 128. In terms of percentages, the differences in the numbers are petty and can easily be explained. An exact figure for casualties would have been far stranger under these chaotic circumstances! As any experienced police officer knows, identical statements from separate witnesses are usually a sign that a story has been cooked up.
5.The room could not have accommodated 150 people.
v.)Regarding the observation that 'the room was too small for 150 people', this is indeed absolutely correct, and therein lies the reason why so many died! The dimensions of the prison room are roughly given by Orme as 'not twenty feet square'. Holwell calls it a cube of about eighteen feet; but Cooke particularises a little more, and says it was about eighteen feet long and fourteen feet wide. If we use Holwell's estimate as an average, and base it on his estimate of 146 individuals then deduce that some ten percent were under the bench and lying over the heads and shoulders of others in an attempt to get to the window (whereby they would not have taken standing room) we find that each one of the inmates had almost 2.5 square feet to stand in.
6.Accounts differ as to how many women were involved, this also removes credibility from the story.
vi.)This is false. Nobody ever said there was only one woman present and nobody gave any form of estimate as to the number of female victims. Holwell and most others state that there was a woman present called Mary Carey but Holwell certainly does not say in so many words that only 'one' woman went into the prison. Nor does Cooke say that there was only one woman. A Capt. James Mills talked of 'women' being present. A letter written by Thomas Boileu, in 1799 stated that Mary had been with her mother, and her sister and that there were a few other wives of soldiers in the room. In effect, accounts do not differ at all, as no witness contradicted any other witness.
7.No more than 43 of the garrison at Fort William were unaccounted for after the evacuation; therefore, at most 43 Europeans died in the Black Hole. Jadunath Sarkar in the History of Bengal Vol. II, also writes: 'after evacuation and stealthy walking away already described by authentic records and admitted by Hill, 146 Britishers could not have been left…'
As to the debate whether there would have been 146 Europeans, it must be remembered that the above comment only refers to the garrison and not the militia and civilians, but more importantly Holwell does not claim that all the 146 incarcerated within the cell were Europeans!
[Holwell's] List of the smothered in the Black Hole prison (exclusive of sixty-nine, consisting of Dutch and English sergeants, corporals, soldiers, topazes, militia, whites, and Portuguese, (whose names I am. unacquainted with), making on the whole one hundred and twenty-three persons.’
Of Council - E. Eyre, Wm. Baillie,. Esqrs., the Rev. Jervas Bellamy.
Gentlemen in the Service-Messrs. Jenks, Revely, Law, Coales, Valicourt, Jeb, Torriano, E. Page, S. Page, Grub, Street, Harod, P. Johnstone, Ballard, N. Drake, Carse, Knapton, Gosling, Bing, Dod, Dalrymple.
Military Captains - Clayton, Buchanan, Witherington.
Lieutenants-Bishop, Ifays, Blagg, Simson, Bellamy.
Ensigns-Paccard, Scot, Hastings, C. Wedderburn, Dumbleton.
Sergeants, &c. - Sergeant-Major Abraham, Quartermaster Cartwright, Ser geant Bleau (these were sergeants of militia).
Sea Captains-Hunt, Osburne, Purnell (survived the night, but died next day), Messrs. Carey, Stephenson, Guy, Porter, W. Parker, Caulker, Bendall, Atkinson, Leech, &c., &c.
List of those who survived - Messrs. Holwell, Court, Secretary Cooke, Lushington, Burdett, Ensign Walcott, Mrs. Carey, Captain Mills, Captain Dickson, Mr. Moran, John Meadows and twelve military and militia, blacks and whites, some of whom recovered when the door was opened.
‘It is clear that a considerable number of those in the prison were natives of India.’ says H. E. Busteed, ‘…as he could only name fifty-two of the deaths’. I find it incredible that such an important and basic document as the above is never scrutinized by Holwell’s critics. Note the second line: ‘topaz’ is the 18th century term for a full-blooded Indian Christian, and ‘Portuguese’ was the generic term for Eurasians. I was also interested to find the name Dalrymple on this list – an ancestor of William Dalrymple perhaps? The myth that the victims were all Europeans is very old. It was initially strated by the English themselves who found propaganda value in claiming that that the suffering was wholly theirs. As early as the 1790's, a commentator by the name of Wilcocke wrote:
The reader need scarcely be informed, that this mutilated account [Rear Admiral John S. Stavorinus's brief mention of the episode] relates to the well-known tragic event, at the reduction of Calcutta, of the suffocation of 123, out of 146 English prisoners, in the black hole prison. The scene of this horrid transaction has become proverbial among Englishmen for a place of insufferable torment, and together with the Inhuman tyrant, Surajah Dowlah, by whose order our countrymen were devoted to this cruel death.. The monument, which was erected by Mr. Holwell, one of the few survivors, and whose narrative of his sufferings is in every body's hands, is a handsome obelisk, about fifty feet high, inscribed with the names of the persons who died in the black-hole, and whose bodies were promiscuously thrown, the next morning, into the ditch of the fort. This misunderstanding has more-or-less continued unchecked for the last 200 years. Unsympathetic modern researchers, some with their own biased agendas, have picked up on these early misrepresentations and used them as a means of debunking the original accounts when in fact such statements had nothing to do with the all-important contemporary descriptions.
8.Holwell had ordered the gate to be opened and fired on the Bengalis. This caused them to massacre the English. He then exaggerated the Black Hole to get himself off the hook.
Viii). No such event took place. There had been a spontaneous exchange of fire from both sides during a peace parley and a gate had been opened by certain individuals who had tried to flee at the end of the siege. Holwell's main condition during these brief discussions, was that their lives should be spared, which brings into question why the English should have then purposefully enraged the enemy in such a manner.
By all accounts, Holwell's actions had been heroic and exemplary. He had nothing to cover up. If he had personally enraged Siraj and the Black Hole was the retribution, it would have been in Holwell's interests to down-play the events of that terrible night rather than to have exaggerated them.
9.The Black Hole of Calcutta soon became the principal justification for British rule in India and it was politically expedient for other witnesses and the state to support Holwell's story.
Viv.) The Black Hole of Calcutta was never the principal justification for British rule in India! I have not read a single 18th century document or memoir that makes such a claim. In Thoughts on Improving the Government of the British Territorial Possessions in the East Indies (Printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1780) the Black Hole incident is not even mentioned. In the 18th century, foreign territory was annexed and governed through 'right of conquest'. In this age of empires, of absolute monarchs and slavery, no excuses were required to exert authority over defeated peoples - especially 'black heathens'.
Siraj had attacked Calcutta, he had instigated a conflict which he had lost and the prize to the victors was Bengal. Politically speaking, the Black Hole incident was to some benefit but it was never too important. It was a tiny side-show, a mere footnote. By the early 19th century, the original monument was in a sorry state of disrepair and the Black Hole itself had been demolished - so much for political significance!
10.Cooke lied to help his friend Holwell, who he had even once stood bale for. He had financially benefited from the conquest of Bengal and it was within his interests to uphold the 'myth'.
X.) Can we really believe that Cooke would have taken the very grave and serious step of lying to a Select Committee to simply avoid hurting the feelings of a friend? The fact that Cooke had made money out of British administration in Bengal is a Red Herring, as he did not have to prove the Black Hole incident to justify his fortune. The mere fact that he had not fled with the departing ships and had stood his ground on the walls during the siege was sufficient to uphold his reputation, he did not need the additional gloss (or humiliation) of the Black Hole.
11. Muslim historians make no mention of the incident, though they were critical of Siraj.
XI.) The final point is, to my mind the only criticism that really holds water - yet this particular well of inspiration is a tad dry. Why did Muslim historians not mention the incident? We can speculate that writings have been lost, perhaps the truth was not widely known - what is for certain is that the aforementioned historians say nothing about European prisoners being well cared for nor do they say that all were safely accounted for the following day after the capture. In short, they neither contradict nor confirm the story.
In this desperate clamour to find fault, many have asked why the British did not simply run away. The curt answer is that the captives would not have been inclined to escape as there was simply nowhere to run to. The British were very conspicuous in their appearance, it was one thing for the Company's Indian servants to abscond under such circumstances, but quite another for a European to attempt to do likewise. As the area was full of ill disciplined and vengeful Indian troops, it is likely that many thought themselves safer in captivity and under guard. We may recall that some individuals who tried to escape from sinking ships, were butchered on the riverbank. Orme records that a quantity of men did try to run away immediately after the fort was taken, but this was only partially successful.
Unfortunately I do not get government money for my research, and because it is not what people want to hear it's not popular. I did get a book published in India, which received some interest from the Asiatic Society; nevertheless it only had a print run of 500. I could not find a publisher in Australia.
After seeing the hack job Tudor historians did on Richard III, I'm extremely sceptical of the character assessments of Siraj made by his English contemporaries and their Indian cronies. How convenient: an English trading company indulges in palace politics, bribery, conspiracy; and deposes the legitimate ruler of a native state, and that ruler just turns out to be the soul of depravity and sadism. Just like President Lincoln was "dull and commonplace" during the American Civil War, and Gandhi was a naked fakir.
I'm all for a sensible discussion in this matter, and have no doubt that Sirajud-dowlah was neither the most capable of monarchs, nor a saintly ruler. What I object to is seeing him as made out to be the Prince of Darkness. Given his wife's lifelong devotion to him and his memory after his death, I think the young man must have had at least a few redeeming moral features.
Re: Much Doubt
The above writer is full of Indian patriotism, but knows little about history. The Muslim historians were not "cronies" indeed, a Frenchman by the name of "Law", who worked with Siraj, and who was a true enemy of the British, said things that were 10 times worse!!! "...that ruler just turns out to be the soul of depravity and sadism" ... convenient, yes, maybe it was, but does that mean it was a lie? Every person that knew him said he was a crazy cruel _____ and yet you want to re-write history so you Indians can feel better about yourselves?
Also this article has been re-written by somebody with a limited grasp of English. Historians of the time did not say he was "devoid of softness" - they said, he was a crazy cruel ___
He wasn't a great military leader, he was perhaps the most inept India had ever seen. Clive only had a thousand British troops!
"English trading company indulges in palace politics, bribery, conspiracy" shock, horror, welcome to the 18th century! The Moguls would never have done anything like that would they? No, slaughtering entire cities was more to their taste. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 184.108.40.206 (talk • contribs)
Legitimacy & Matter of Policy
This article is not about Siraj's personal lifeor his personal traits. It is an article on Siraj as the last independent Nawab of Bengal.First and foremost premise from where we have to start the article is the acceptance that he was for all reasons & purposes, the legitimate ruler of Bengal. As such he had every right to protect his country from all foreign expansionist and colonialist preassures.Hence, he was absolutely correct in attacking Fort William at Calcutta. Any ruler of any country at any point of time would have done the same thing naturally and legitimately. Whether his personal charecter was good or bad does not necessarily minimizes his right to protect him and his country from the colonialists.Any person with nominal believe in freedom and sovreignity will definitely understand this truth.
Thank you everybody.
Al-minar 08:51, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
Siraj - Great military hero
He wasn't, the British had a tiny army and took an absolute minimum of casualties. I think making Siraj out to be a military genius is really quite unreasonable. Even without Mir Jafa's troops, the British forces were still vastly outnumbered and they had more than enough men to finish the job, so to say that Mir Jafa's failure to participate in the battle was the only cause of the defeat, is just rubbish, Clive had 2000 troops, Siraj (without Mir Jafa) had 30,000 troops plus French troops. Calcutta was given up without a fight. I do wish people would stick to history, and write about the REAL Siraj, rather that the person they would like him to be.If they want to say anything nice about Siraj, all I ask for is an 18th century source - and not 21st century Indian nationalistic babble.
Somebody wishes to add that the "early historians" (ie - the people that knew him) said that he refused to compromise, well, he did make several compromises with the British before his final defeat, and the writer gives no sources. It's clear that, yet again, they are just making it all up as they go along, because they really want Siraj to be the great leader and hero that he clearly wasn't.
- I am sickened to see the way Nobab Siraj had been portrayed in this wikipedia, and especially by the British historian. Its the same British conquest which raped and plundered Bengal, burned the finest cloth/cotton industry in Bengal during that time and made their own cloth industry in Britain.
Here's a quote from a Book 'Bangladesh:Reflection on Mirror' by James Novak. (Page: 75)
Unlike the time when the Muslim rulers declined (Battle of Plassey) and Bengal led the world in wealth, when the British departed in 1947 all of Bengal was reduced to beggary and become a byword for poverty and backwardness. How low has sunk Bangladesh from the days when Jean Law, one of its first European visitors, reported that “in all official papers, firmans and parawans of Mughal Empire, when there was a question of Bengal, it never ends without adding these words, ‘The Paradise of Nations’!”.
Funny how you quote Jean Law to defend Siraj!! Jean (an enemy of the British East India Company) knew Siraj, and said that he was a mass murdering rapist. Law said that Siraj used to sink river ferries full of people just for the sport of seeing them drown. Issues are being confused here. Was the East India Company good for Bengal? - Probably not. Did Siraj have a right to attack Calcutta? - yes, maybe. But that doesn't make Siraj a good or wise person, does it? The foolhardy attack, which wasn't 100% necessary (as a few hundred British were only building weak fortifications in fear of a FRENCH attack) cost India its independence, and all his engagements with the British were conducted with criminal incompetence. I know all Indian and Bangladeshi sources make him out to be a super hero - but this has more to do with Indian/Bengali nationalistic jingoism than 18th century history.