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Naib Nazim

Naib Nazim deputy subahdar to assist the Nawab in administering the outlying areas. With the gradual disintegration of the Mughal empire after the death of aurangzeb (1707), the powerful governors of the outlying provinces became semi-independent rulers in their respective territories. murshid quli khan was one of those intrepid and able rulers and was virtually independent of the Mughal central government. He established a semi-independent ruling dynasty in Bengal and it ushered in a new era, which came to be known in Bengal history as the rule of the nawabs.

The beginning of the eighteenth century witnessed new challenges for the existing administration in Bengal. The internal rift and bickering that corroded the authority of the royal family, sporadic internal rebellions and the possibility of foreign invasions, particularly by the Afghans, necessitated the introduction of the post of a Naib Nazim. Moreover, the growing political and commercial ambition of European powers such as the English, the dutch and the french put the ruling class in an alarming situation. The increase of the volume of sea-borne trade, the complicated money transaction system and newer fiscal problems were no less important reasons for the creation of the post of Naib Nazim during the later period of Mughal administration.

Dhaka lost its glory as the capital of Subah Bangla in 1703 when the viceroy, Prince Azimuddin (azim-us-shan) transferred his centre of administration to Patna. Probably farrukh siyar, son of Azimuddin, lived in Dhaka up to 1707. But whether he was given the power of naib or deputy of the nazim is not known; at least officially he was not so styled. Murshid Quli Khan had already transferred the diwani establishment to murshidabad. So Dhaka became, for all practical purposes, the headquarters of local administration and a centre of trade and commerce.

Sarbuland Khan was a naib nazim of Dhaka (1708-1709) under the viceroy Azim-us-Shan, but he used to live in Murshidabad. In 1713, Murshid Quli Khan became the naib nazim on behalf of Farkhunda Siyar, the infant son of Farrukh Siyar. At the death of the child he continued in that position under Shariatullah, entitled Mir Jumla. Murshid Quli Khan also continued to stay in Murshidabad. It is probably from 1716-1717 when Murshid Quli Khan himself became the full-fledged subahdar of Bengal and Orissa that Dhaka became the seat of a naib nazim ruling on behalf of the subahdar or nazim.

From this time till the granting of the diwani to the east india company (1765) Dhaka remained the seat of a niabat. The Naib Nazims of Dhaka, however, continued up to 1843, shorn of powers from 1765 to 1822 and holding only the title and a small allowance from 1822 to 1843.

The earliest incumbents to the post of naib nazims of Jahangirnagar (Dhaka) were Khan Muhammad Ali Khan (1717), Itisam Khan (1723-1726), a son of Itisam Khan (1726-27), and Mirza Lutfullah alias murshid quli khan II (1728-1733).

Murshid Quli Khan had appointed his son-in-law shujauddin muhammad khan naib nazim of Orissa. The nawab nominated his grandson sarfaraz khan to the masnad but Shujauddin, his father, captured the throne, depriving the son, and ruled from 1727 to 1739. Under him Bihar was united with Bengal and the whole territory was divided into four divisions for administrative convenience, namely, the central division (comprising west Bengal and parts of north Bengal); Jahangirnagar division; Orissa division and Bihar division. The central division was administered directly by the nawab or subahdar himself, whereas the other divisions were placed in charge of naib nazims.

Shujauddin entrusted the administration of Jahangirnagar to his son-in-law, Murshid Quli Khan II and of Orissa and Bihar to his sons Taqi Khan and Sarfaraz Khan respectively. Murshid Quli Khan II proved to be an efficient ruler and with the assistance of Mir Habib substantially reduced administrative expenses. He attacked the capital of Tipperah and its adjoining territory and returned to Jahangirnagar with a huge amount of riches after placing the occupied territory in charge of the nephew of the Tipperah king.

On the death of Taqi Khan, Murshid Quli Khan II was made the naib nazim of Orissa; Sarfaraz Khan and alivardi khan were appointed naib nazims of Jahangirnagar and Bihar respectively. Sarfaraz held his post from 1733 to 1738, though he never visited Dhaka. He administered Dhaka with the help of Ghalib Ali Khan as his deputy and Jaswant Rai as the diwan. Ghalib Ali's administration brought the same degree of peace and prosperity as was witnessed during the time of shaista khan. Trade and agriculture flourished and prices of food grains came down substantially. Prosperity continued as long as Ghalib Ali Khan and Jaswant Rai remained at Jahangirnagar.

Nawab Shujauddin Khan was succeeded by his son Sarfaraz Khan (1739-1740) as the nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. He did not change the old royal officials from their respective posts. Thus Haji Ahmed, Alam Chand, jagat sheth and many others remained in their former offices. Alivardi Khan continued to remain as the naib nazim of Bihar from where he joined in a conspiracy with his brother Haji Ahmed to overthrow Sarfaraz Khan. Haji Ahmed brought Jagat Sheth and Alam Chand to his side against the nawab. In the battle of Ghiria (1740) Sarfaraz Khan met the rebel forces led by Alivardi Khan and was defeated and killed. Alivardi Khan then became the nawab of Bengal and Bihar.

The new nawab conferred the niabat of Jahangirnagar on his eldest nephew and son-in-law (husband of ghaseti begum) nawazish muhammad khan. He administered Jahangirnagar through his deputies Husain Quli Khan (1740-1754) and Murad Ali Khan. By 1753 the situation in the eastern province of Jahangirnagar was under the control of non-Muslim officers, although Nawazish Muhammad Khan, who lived in the capital Murshidabad, was its nominal ruler. The continuous absence of the main incumbent to the post of the naib nazim helped the growth of a Hindu aristocracy and mercantile class. The politically ambitious Hindu officials began to assert themselves in court politics as well. rajballabh acquired much wealth and property for himself by misappropriating the revenue.

Alivardi captured Orissa from Murshid Quli Khan II and appointed sayed ahmed khan, his second nephew and second son-in-law, the naib nazim of Orissa and returned to Murshidabad. Sayed Ahmed could not face local problems successfully and so there was a popular uprising in Orissa. The enemies captured him and Alivardi Khan proceeded to set him free. Sayed Ahmed was subsequently withdrawn from Orissa and in his place Mukhlis Ali Khan and Sheikh Masum were posted one after another as naib nazims. Durlabh Ram, son of Janakiram, was placed in Orissa as the diwan in order to assist the naib nazim in running the local administration.

Under Alivardi Khan Bihar was a hotbed of Afghan revolts. The rebel Afghan leader Mustafa Khan was successfully driven back by zainuddin ahmad khan, the youngest nephew and son-in-law of Alivardi Khan. The defeated Afghans encouraged Raghuji Bhonsle, the Maratha leader of Nagpur, to proceed against Alivardi Khan. But their evil designs were not fulfilled. The Afghans, however, killed Zainuddin Ahmed and the nawab proceeded against them to avenge the death of his son-in-law. He defeated the enemies, entered Patna and posted sirajuddaula, son of the deceased, as the naib nazim there. Raja Janakiram was placed there for his assistance.

jasarat khan was the naib nazim of Jahangirnagar during the time of Nawab Sirajuddaula (1756-57). He remained in that office for two terms (ie from 1756-1762 and 1765-1778). He witnessed the great political change that took place in 1757 after the battle of palashi. Nawab mir qasim removed him from his post because of his alleged tilt towards the English. But the English reinstated him in the post of naib nazim in 1765.

Naib Nazims after Palashi The English did not abolish the post of the Naib Nazim after the battle of Palashi. They, however, appointed only those persons to the post who were considered loyal to them. Gradually the office lost its former power and glory and remained only in name. The East India Company continued the office till its authority was firmly established. Muhammad reza khan was appointed naib nazim of Jahangirnagar in 1763 when mir jafar became the nawab for the second time.

After the granting of the diwani the company appointed Reza Khan naib nazim of Murshidabad and reinstated Jasarat Khan as the naib nazim of Dhaka. In 1765 the area under the control of the naib nazim of Dhaka corresponded roughly to modern districts of Sylhet, Comilla, Noakhali, Bakerganj, Faridpur, Khulna, Jessore, Dhaka and Mymensingh. Jasarat Khan continued in his office till 1778 and was succeeded by his grandson Hashmat Jang (1778-1785). Nusrat Jang (1785-1822) succeeded Hashmat Jang. His younger brother and heir Shamsuddaula (1822-1831) used the title of nawab. Qamaruddaula (1831-1834) succeeded Shamsuddaula and was succeeded by Ghaziuddin Haidar (1834-1843). With him the Dhaka niabat came to an end.

In 1772 warren hastings abolished the dual government and established the company's rule in Bengal. Certain general regulations were passed for civil and criminal trials. Accordingly a Faujdari Adalat was ordered to be set up in each district for the trial of all crimes. Appeals to these faujdari adalats were to lie with the Sadar Nizamat Adalat presided over by a Justice appointed by the nazim. The system continued till 1787 with some changes. Hastings removed Reza Khan from the posts of naib diwan and naib nazim. Reza Khan was, however, reinstated twice in the post of naib nazim, once in 1775 and again in 1779. On the arrival of lord cornwallis (1786-1793), great changes were brought in the system. By the regulations passed in 1787, the collector was vested with the power of a magistrate and also of a judge. The qazis (known as darogas as well) of the faujdari adalat were subject to the naib nazim. They were to try all offences and serious cases referred to the nazim for judgement. In 1790, Lord Cornwallis abolished the post of naib nazim.

The naib nazim of Dhaka had revenue and administrative powers till 1765. Later his functions were to conduct the general administration of the districts placed under his charge. His duties were to punish turbulent elements, administer justice according to Muslim law, prevent blacksmiths from making matchlocks, take effective measures against the supply of materials of war to mischievous persons, collect revenue and deposit the same punctually to the treasury and maintain war establishments and naval boats in efficient condition. For the expenses of administration of the naib nazim of Dhaka, the revenues of Dhaka, Mymensingh, Sylhet etc, were assigned to him. There were extensive nawara lands in Dhaka for the upkeep of naval ships and personnel. The nawara lands were, however, confiscated gradually and in 1822 the naib nazim's nawara mahal was confiscated after the death of Naib Nazim Nusrat Jang.

The later naib nazims of Dhaka were influenced to a certain extent by western culture and way of life. They learnt English and patronised western culture at a time when the Muslim public opinion in Eastern Bengal was greatly influenced by the Islamic religious zeal of reformists like the Wahabis and the Faraizis. While mentioning the attitude of Nusrat Jung towards western culture D'oyly says that his audience chamber was full of English prints and painting. Nusrat Jang was well versed in history and current affairs and could speak English well.

After the death of Nawab Shamsuddaula in 1831, his son Qamaruddaula (1831-34) succeeded him. Qamar's son and successor Gaziuddin Haidar, known as 'Pagla Nawab' died without leaving any heir in 1843. He passed his time in penury and great hardship. His extravagance was such that the government had to make over his estates to an agent. On his death, the title became extinct as he had no heir and his property was sold by auction.

The naib nazims were popularly styled as nawab. During their time the activities of traders and merchants expanded rapidly. The export of the European companies increased by about three to four times. Though the growth of Dhaka was checked, yet it did not stop. During the fifty years of the niabat building activities were few and far between. The naib-nazims lived in the qila or fort of Islam Khan. After the company's acquisition of the diwani, the fort was occupied by company officers and the naib-nazims moved to the bara katra. After the construction of the nimtali palace in 1766 Naib Nazim Jasarat Khan moved into it. As for the construction activities of this period, besides the Nimtali Palace, mention may be made of the construction by Mirza Lutfullah of the Chaukbazar in 1728 and the armanitola mosque in 1735. [KM Karim]