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Farrukh Siyar


Farrukh Siyar (1713-1719) a great-grand son of the Mughal Emperor aurangzeb, ascended the throne of Delhi defeating his uncle Jahandar Shah (1712-1713). He had a taste of power even during the time of his great-grand father. When his father, azim-us-shan, was the subahdar of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Farrukh Siyar was appointed his deputy (naib nazim). During the period that he spent in Bengal, Farrukh Siyar tried to exact from the province as much money as he could so that he could use it in the foreseeable contest for the throne with Jahandar Shah. With very little co-operation from his adherents and his father's beneficiaries, Farrukh Siyar had to turn towards the Sayyid brothers Husain Ali Khan and Abdullah Khan, the deputy subahdars of Bihar and Allahahad respectively, for help. With the help of the Sayyid brothers, Farrukh Siyar succeeded in defeating his uncle and occupied the throne on 9 January 1713.

A young man of thirty, Farrukh Siyar proved to be a feeble, fickle, indiscreet and unscrupulous ruler. Throughout his reign the atmosphere of the court remained fraught with plot, intrigue and counter-intrigue. No wonder, in such a stifling situation Farrukh Siyar had to fall back on the services of some non-partisan efficient administrators. This explains his treatment towards one-time adversary, murshid quli khan, who was conferred the title of Jafar Khan Nasiri. He was confirmed to his former office of the diwan of Bengal, appointed as the diwan and subahdar of Orissa and made the deputy to his infant son Earkhunda Siyar, who was designated as the nominal subahdar of Bengal.

Farrukh Siyar led a successful campaign against the Sikhs whose leader Banda was defeated and executed. The recalcitrant Rajputs were also subdued. Farrukh Siyar's reign was marked by the granting of some undue trade privileges to the English east india company, an act which was detrimental to the economic interest of the empire as a whole and the subah of Bengal, Bihar and orissa, in particular. He yielded to the unjustifiable demands of the English, who were bent upon establishing trade monopoly in the province, and granted the Imperial farman (1717). This speaks of his ineptitude and the lack of comprehension of the impact which such an act could bring upon the country. farrukh siyar's farman paved the way to the establishment of colonial rule in Bengal.

Farrukh Siyar's subsequent efforts to get rid of the Sayyid brothers cost him his throne and life' (April 1719). [Shirin Akhtar]