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Bahadur Khan


Bahadur Khan Masnad-i-Ala Afghan zamindar of Hijli and one of the renowned bara-bhuiyans of Bengal. His territories covered an area now forming the Kathi subdivision of Midnapore district in West Bengal. His capital at Hijli on the bank of the Rasulpur River and to the southeast of Pachet was a strong fortified post. The town of Hijli is now called Nij Kasbah.

Salim Khan Masnad-i-Ala was the zamindar of Hijli at the time when Islam Khan launched his Bhati Campaign. He tendered nominal submission to subahdar Islam khan in 1609 AD. On the death of Salim Khan probably in 1617 or even earlier his nephew Bahadur Khan succeeded him to the masnad of Hijli.

Bahadur Khan proved to be more refractory than the other neighbouring zamindars. He was glorified with the title of Masnad-i-Ala, posed and styled himself to be an independent sultan. During the viceroyalty of qasim khan chisti (1614-1617) the task of reducing Bahadur was entrusted to Mirza Makki, the faujdar of Burdwan, with no satisfactory result. The next viceroy, ibrahim khan fath-i-jang (1617-1624) summoned Bahadur Khan to the vice royal court at Dhaka. But Bahadur in collaboration with Mukarram Khan, his personal friend who was then leaving Bengal for Orissa as subahdar, openly rebelled and defied the authority of the subahdar of Bengal. Muhammad Beg Abakash, the newly appointed faujdar of Burdwan, was sent to subdue Bahadur Khan. Bahadur asked for military help from Mukarram Khan who readily responded and sent 1000 cavalry to the help of Bahadur. This enabled Bahadur Khan to thwart all the efforts of the Mughal commander to subdue him or dislodge him from his fortified post in Hijli.

By this time, subahdar Ibrahim Khan proceeded towards Jessore, reached Kagarghata, and dispatched a well-equipped land and naval force under Mirza Ahmad Beg, Mirza Yusuf, Jalayer Khan and Musa Khan along with other zamindars to the help of Muhammad Beg Abakash who was waiting for re-enforcement at his newly built fort on the suburb of Hijli.

The combined imperial force launched a vigorous attack on Hijli from the riverside. Bahadur Khan was expecting military help from Mukarram Khan, but to his utter dismay Bahadur noticed that Mukarram Khan by this time managed retreat of the advancing army to Orissa just with the arrival of subahdar Ibrahim Khan at Jessore. In this backdrop, Bahadur Khan had no way out but to give up hostility and sue for peace. Having assurance of his personal safety from Mirza Ahmad Beg and other generals, Bahadur Khan personally came to Jessore to tender submission to the subahdar (June 1621) who re-instated him in his jagir on payment of a fine of three lakhs of rupees for his insubordination.

Bahadur Khan held an extensive coastal area from the Rupnarayan to the Suvarnarekha Rivers. Prince Muhammad shah shuja on taking charge of Orissa as subahdar in addition to Bengal in 1651, imposed an enhancement of tribute on Bahadur Khan. Bahadur was then a victim of palace intrigue launched by his cousin and sister's husband, Jainuddin Khan. By the machination of Jainuddin the payment of revenue demanded by the Mughal subahdar was late, and Bahadur was virtually in default. A contingent of imperial army sent by Shah Shuja captured Hijli and brought Bahadur a captive to Dhaka. Bahadur Khan was kept confined in Dhaka. Jainuddin Khan seems to have secret liaison with the occupation army who however managed the royal sanction on the estate of Hijli in his favour. But in the confusion caused by the war of succession, Bahadur Khan escaped (1659) and recovered his estate in 1660 AD.

The chequered career of Bahadur Khan sustained reverse within one year of his recovery of the estate. His defiance of the authority of the imperial subahdar together with his inordinate pride and love for freedom brought him afresh in conflict with the subahdar of Bengal and of Orissa. In 1661, Khan-i-Dauran, the Mughal governor of Orissa, and Bengal viceroy mir jumla, concerted a joint venture to subdue Bahadur. The Orissa army swelled by the Bengal forces launched a vigorous attack on Hijli. In the encounter that followed, Bahadur Khan was defeated and captured. He was kept confined in Ranthambar Fort. After six years of confinement, Bahadur was restored to liberty by Nawab shayesta khan and was reinstated in his estate in 1667. [Muazzam Hussain Khan]