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Ghiyasuddin Balban


Ghiyasuddin Balban (1266-1287 AD) sultan of Delhi. He brought back peace and order in the state and restored the power and prestige of the sultan after a period of thirty years of near anarchy since the days of iltutmish (d 1236). Son of a Turkish noble of the Ilbari tribe, Balban ascended the throne of Delhi in 1266 AD. He was one of the greatest sultans of the Early Turkish Sultanate.

Bengal was always a headache to the Delhi Sultanate. Taking advantage of the weakness of the central authority and the peculiar geographical position of Bengal, its governors often rose in rebellion. For this reason it got the epithet of 'Bulgakpur' (city of rebellion).

Balban, well aware of Bengal affairs and the activities of its governors, was determined to curb their power and keep them under control. With this end in view, the sultan appointed his trusted and tried slave Tughral as a deputy of Amin Khan, governor of Bengal. Taking advantage of Balban's pre-occupation with Mongol incursions into the northwest frontier and his subsequent illness Tughral declared independence in 1277 AD.

On his recovery the sultan, in a letter to Tughral, commanded him to celebrate the occasion of his recovery in a befitting manner. Tughral, instead of paying heed to the sultan's commandment, advanced upon Bihar with his army and kept waiting for the Delhi forces. Balban attempted to bring Tughral back to allegiance by peaceful negotiation and persuasion. The attempt having failed Balban sent an expedition against Tughral under Amin Khan Aitigin, governor of Oudh, in 1277 who was defeated by Tuhgral on the bank of the river Gogra. At this Balban sent another army under Malik Turmati in 1278 AD. The second general also could fare no better and fled to Oudh. Tughral became so powerful that he was able to drive back the third expedition led by Shahabuddin Bahadur, Amir of Oudh in 1279 AD.

Overwhelmed with shame and anger by the repeated failures of the imperial armies, Balban now resolved to march against Tughral in person. He, accompanied by his younger son bughra khan, advanced towards the east in 1280 AD with a vast army of two lakhs of soldiers. He had also a flotilla of war-boats to carry on warfare necessary in riverain Bengal.

Tughral did not think it wise to offer battle, nor did he make any arrangement for the defence of his capital. He evacuated lakhnauti with his army and treasure and the respectable section of the civil population. Balban entered Lakhnauti and to his utter disappointment found it deserted. Leaving Hisamuddin in charge of the Bengal capital the sultan pursued the fugitive Tughral with dogged tenacity. To deter the escape of Tughral towards the south, he made an agreement with danauja rai of sonargaon. Tughral hurriedly evacuated his fortress of Narkila and proceeded towards Jajnagar.

Tughral was so popular with all classes of people that Balban could not get any information about the whereabouts of Tughral from any quarter. However, the sultan sent a detachment of troops under Malik Bektaurs with instructions to send out small parties in all directions so that intelligence about Tughral could be had. One day, one such small party under Malik Sher Andaz found out Tughral and killed him.

Balban meted out exemplary punishments to the relatives and followers of Tughral hanging them in the open market place at Lakhnauti and stayed there for some more days to organise the administration and consolidate Delhi's hold over the province. He attached so much importance to the province that, before leaving for Delhi, he put it under the charge of his younger and only surviving son Bughra Khan with the instruction to be careful in the work of administration. Balban died late in 1287 AD. [ABM Shamsuddin Ahmed]