Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Uprising of Orissa Afghans, 1696



In 1696 Rahim Khan, the chief of Orissa Afghans rebelled against Ibrahim Khan , the Mughal subahdar of Bengal and Orissa and in alliance with Shova Singh, the chief of Cheto-Barda, defeated and slew Raja Krishna Ram , the revenue-farmer of Burdwan district, and captured its chief town with the family and property of Raja. Then they seized the fort and city of Hooghly. Rahim Khan , the Afghan chief , led troops to occupy the rich cities of Nadia and Murshidabad, Malda and Rajamhal. Ibrhaim Khan remained inactive at Dacca while that portion of Bengal west of the Ganges was left for plunder by the increasing number of rebels.

Rebels chose Rahim Khan as their King with the title of Rahim Shah. His rapidly growing forces had reached 10,000 horse and five to six times as many infantry. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb dismissed Ibrahim Khan from his post, appointed his own grandson , the Timurid Prince, Azim-ud-din to the governorship and ordered Zabardast Khan , son of dismissed Bengal governor, to take the field immediately. Zabardast Khan using his field artillery and cavalry effectively drove the rebels into retreat for the rainy season. By early 1698 Prince Azim-ud-din arrived and confronted Rahim Shah and his revived rebel force near Burdwan. In a brief hard-fought battle, the imperial troops killed Rahim Shah and crushed the rebellion.

The revolt of Rahim Khan Afghan is of special interest as it indirectly led to the foundation of the towns of Calcutta , Chandenagore and Chindsura. The English at Sutanuti, the French at Chandernagore and the Dutch at Chinsura, alarmed at the progress of rebels , applied to the Nawab Nazim for permission to put their factories into a state of defense. The Nawab ordered them in general terms to defend themselves, and interpreting his orders in accordance with their inclinations , they transformed the settlements into fortified cities which were the first which the Indian Emperors suffered foreigners to build in any part of their dominion.

Sources:

1-The New Cambridge History of India Vol.1.5, Mughal Empire, page.247-48
2- Burdwan District Gazetteer, 1910, page-28