Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Treaty of Allahabad: A weak Emperor changed history

Akbar’s Fort had its blemish in history. A weak Emperor Shah Alam signed the Treaty of Allahabad. He was a puppet in the hands of the Company and the Marathas. Here’s the fourth part of the Fort serial, in the light of Akbar-Jodha controversy.

CJ: Arindam Roy, 22 Feb 2008 Views:1432 Comments:1

THE ARMY’S into Akbar’s Fort, popularly known as Allahabad Fort, is similar to the guest who came home for dinner but never left. Two hundred and forty three years ago, in 1765, the East India Company (hereafter, Company) had entered the Allahabad Fort, following the signing of the Treaty of Allahabad, between the Moghul Emperor Shah Alam and the Governor General Robert Clive.

Shah Alam was a weak emperor. The Jats had started attacking Delhi by the mid-18th century. They had established their supremacy in and around Agra. The Marathas, who had established their domination in Deccan, brought Shah Alam to Allahabad fort and had kept him under their protection. In fact, after the Battle of Plassey, in 1757, British interference had increased, said Prof Susheel Srivastava, who teaches modern history, in Allahabad University.

In 1764, there was the Battle of Buxar, when Sujauddaula, the Nawab of Avadh, who was the Wazir (minister) of the Emperor, alongwith the Emperor’s army, joined the forces of Mir Quasim. The Company’s forces chased them away as far as Kara. The Britishers had kept their reinforcement in Chunar fort. That helped them to consolidate their position. Clive was not in India, when the battle was fought and won. So Verelst, an English officer was busy drafting a pact with Shah Alam, wherein he wanted that the Emperor should completely annihilate Sujauddaula. Meanwhile, Clive returned to India and exchange of robes took place between him and Moghul Emperor, according to Prof Srivastava.

He added that on that very day, as per an arrangement made by Clive, the Treaty of Allahabad was signed. It was decided that the revenues of Allahabad, Kara and Manikpur (the latter two areas were very fertile) was to be given to the Emperor and an indemnity of Rs 30 lakh was imposed on Sujauddaula. As per this treaty, the Emperor was to be protected by the forces of the Company. A garrison was placed in the Allahabad Fort. The Company, in return, got the Diwani (revenue collecting rights) of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

By the year 1772, Shah Alam had decided to return to Delhi, under the protection of the Marathas. He had been reduced to a puppet in their hands. Thus, Allahabad, Kara and Manikpur came totally under Company’s influence. By 1801, the Nawab of Avadh had failed to pay the heavy indemnity imposed on him. Thus, the Company occupied east UP, upto Gorakhpur and beyond. The tyranny and cruelty of the English was such that they managed to control the entire area east of Allahabad, he explained.

That was a time of pillage and plunder. The Company’s managers were very corrupt. But, by the year 1772, much of the corruption was contained. Only a select few were corrupt. The question before the Company was how to make money. Trade was the answer. The silk trade from Beneras (Varanasi) was stepped up. By the year 1800, opium was taken from east UP. Thus, with Allahabad Fort under their control and the three states under their sway, the Company was controlling entire east UP (alongwith Avadh), Bihar, Bengal and Orissa.

When the Company made an attempt to dominate the trade route, Allahabad once again emerged as an important centre.

The merchants of the Company started residing at the same place, where we now have Jamuna Christian College. Near Mankameshwar temple, one finds buoy, on Saraswati ghat. Large boats (or small ships) were loaded and unloaded, there. All along the banks of Ganga, right upto Shiv Kuti, there were depots, built for storing ammunition or cargo, he informed.


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