Motijheel, the cradle of British rule in India,
stands witness to a remarkable turning point in Indian history. A 350 acre oxbow
lake formed out of an abandoned bed of river Bhagirathi, the Motijheel, derived
its name from extensive pearl cultivation during the Nawabi period. The Jheel was
famous for raising golden tinted pearls extracted from unino margaritifera species.
Out of the black marble stones brought from the ruins of Gaur, Nawazesh Ahmed Khan
built the Sangidalan or the stone palace for his wife Ghaseti Begum, the eldest
daughter of Nawab Nazim Ali Verdi Khan. Siraj ud Daulah, the favourite grandson
of Ali Verdi Khan was his chosen successor and ascended the throne of Bengal in
1756. Resenting his ascession, Ghaseti Begum, his maternal aunt made her palace
the centre of anti-nawab intrigues. The begum used her massive wealth and influence
to stitch together a coation of forces including Mir Jafar, the Jagat Seth and the
British to overthrow the young Nawab. Siraj marched out to Plassey from Motijheel
on 23rd june 1757. The Intrigue played out in the field as most of the army was
rendered inactive under the trecherous direction of Mir Jafar, the commander-in-chief
of the Nawab. The aftermath of the battle saw the transition of a trading company
into a political power that sealed the fates of the new Nawabs. It is during the
punya ceremony at Motijheel that Lord Clive formally assumed the reins of financial
administration of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa on 29th April 1765 by the grant of diwani
by the then mughal emperor. This event marks the actual beginning of the British
rule in India. Between 1757- 1786, Motijheel was residence and office of different
British officials including Lord Clive and Warren Hastings. Known for its magnificient
palaces, gardens and the beautiful lake and its tryst with subcontinent’s history,
Motiheel is sometimes compared to magna carta famed historic runnymede of London.
*** Imerial Gazetteer of India, vol xviii Bengal District Gazetteers
THE PLOT: - The succession of Siraj ud Daulah to the Bengal caused resentment
in the royal family and created enemies. His impulsive conduct coupled with aversion
towards the British company united all the opoposing forces and set the stage for
his removal . The key players in the plot to dethrone him were :
1. Mir Jafar: The brother-in-law of Ali Verdi Khan and the commander-in-chief
of Nawab’s army. Had ambitions to the Nawabship and was finally chosen by the British
as the successor. Three-fourths of the Nawab’s army were made non-participant under
his direction, misled the nawab and gave false advices in the battle.
2. Ghaseti Begum::- Disgruntled aunt of Nawab Siraj ud Daulah, the eldest
daughter of ali verdi khan, was wealthy and influential. Distributed funds to the
opponents of the Nawab to work for the common cause.
3. Jagat Seth:- Belongs to marwari jain family. Finance minister in the Nawab’s
court. Regarded as banker to the world due his financial prowess unrivalled in the
whole of Mughal Empire. Humiliated by young Nawab in the open court, he joined the
4. William Watst:- The chief of Cossimbazar factory by the British East India
Company. Had access to the Nawab’s court. Tasked by Lord Clive to secretly forge
alliances with anti-nawab forces.
5. Lord Clive:- The main architct of the battle of Plassey. Entered into
an agreement with Mir Jafar on battle, his succession and fees and future privileges
to the company.