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Who was Siraj-ud-Daula & and what is Black Hole Tragedy?

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The name of Siraj has been linked with the infamous event of “The Blackhole Tragedy” of Calcutta. “The Blackhole Tragedy” was big and it still haunts the British sentiments. It so happened that the English strengthened their Fort William at Calcutta without the consent of Siraj-ud-Daula and moreover gave shelter to a deserter from Murshidabad.  Siraj told the English to do away with these two irregularities but the English would not listen. Siraj marched his army from Murshidabad and captured Fort William.

Many Britishers ran away but many became his prisoners. One hundred and forty-six Englishmen were stacked or piled and locked up in a small damp room having a size of 18’ x 14’ with a low ceiling. It had neither windows nor any ventilators. On the following morning, when the door was opened, 123 of them were found dead –  they had been choked to death. Siraj was blamed for he was in charge of the command but he only came to know about this mishap on the day after.

In fact, he was away from Fort William on the day before and after the happening of the tragedy. Siraj was extremely annoyed when he came to know of this event and took the army personnel in charge to task.

It, therefore, apparently appears that responsibility on Siraj has been exaggerated. Again, it is virtually impossible that 146 men can be stacked in a room that had the size of 18’ x 14’ only. Many think that the Black Hole Tragedy did not take place at all. Britishers, however, gave Siraj the title of ‘monster of cruelty’ and arguments against it did not appeal much to them.

Siraj-ud-Daula lived as an independent last Nawab of Bengal from 1730 to 1758 with the capital at Murshidabad. In the decisive battle of Plassey with Lord Clive, he fell in the hands of traitors, as not a fire was shot from his army in time. He lost the battle and was murdered with all his supporters.

Fort William was built in 1700 AD in Calcutta by the English.

In the Battle of Plassey, Siraj was betrayed by his men like Mir Jafar (the commander in chief) of his army, Rai Durlabh, Jagat Seth, and Omi Chand who had already joined hands with the East India Company.

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