The Battle of Plassey, fought on 23 June, 1757, at the banks of Hooghly river in Bengal changed the course of the Indian history forever. Around 1,000 European soldiers under Robert Clive with the help of around 2,000 Indian sepoys decisively put to defeat an Indian army of 49,000 commanded by Nawab Siraj Ud-Daulah. The English army was heavily outnumbered as well as less armoured.
This victory provided a morale boost to the English sense of invincibility in a battlefield. Until then they were one of many competing powers for the trading rights in India, alongwith the French and Portuguese, but this victory established them as a power which could match the ranks of mighty Indian emperors. The battle of Plassey started a process which culminated in the capture of Delhi in 1858 and subsequent transfer of political control to the British crown.
The colonial historians want us to believe that superior armoury and military tactics were the reasons behind the victory of the English army. In fact, treachery, and treachery alone was the reason behind the Indian defeat. While on paper we find 3000 English army fighting 40,000+ Indian army, in reality only less than 15,000 soldiers were fighting from the side of the Nawab and all others either remained neutral or took sides with the English.
Robert Clive was not very sure of challenging the mighty army of the Nawab in the battlefield even a day before the battle. On 22 June, 1757, he received a message from Mir Jafar that Robert Clive should attack the Nawab immediately and Jafar would side with the British. The English had a traitor on their side. A man trusted by the Nawab with more than 10,000 soldiers under his command had formalised a deal with the English. Robert Clive with his visibly ‘small army’ challenged a mighty army of the Nawab at the battlefield. This visibly ‘large Indian army’ was divided into three sections. One section, with 12,000 soldiers, was commanded by Mir Murdan, another section was led by Rai Durlab and the third was under the command of Mir Jafar. Interestingly, only one of three commanders, Mir Murdan, was loyal to the Nawab. Rai Durlab and Mir Jafar had already secretly finalised deals with the English.
When the battle started the Indian army under Mir Murdan charged upon the English army with vigour until Murdan fell to a grapeshot in the battlefield. His death was decisive as the other two commanders were already sold out. Mir Jafar and Rai Durlab, with their soldiers, just stood and watched Murdan’s men, who were only loyal soldiers, getting destroyed by the English. The war ended with an Indian defeat, where only six European soldiers and fourteen Indian sepoys of English army were killed as against more than 500 deaths in the Indian camp. Nawab was later captured and put to death as Mir Jafar was installed as a puppet Nawab.
The battle opened the gates for the British control of India. For the next 190 years India remained under the exploitative colonial regime of the British.
(Author is a young scientist with research thrust on neurobiology, genetics and heavy metal pollutants)