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Nusrat Shah


Nusrat Shah (1519-1532) eldest son of Sultan Alauddin husain shah, succeeded his father in 1519 AD and assumed the title of Sultan Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah. During his father's lifetime he was associated with the administration and was allowed by his father the prerogative of issuing coins in his own name.

The hostilities between Bengal and Tippera, which had gained momentum in the reign of Husain, continued in Nusrat's reign. Taking advantage of the significant political changes that were taking place in northern India Nusrat extended his territory into Tirhut (northern Bihar) and established his headquarters at Hajipur at the confluence of the Gandak and the Ganges. babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, appeared on the eastern Indian scene after inflicting a crushing blow to the Lodi kingdom in the Battle of Panipath (1526) and posed a threat to the sovereignty of Bengal. Initially Nusrat gave shelter to the defeated Afghans including Mahmud Lodi. In 1527 Babur sent Mullah Muhammad Mazhab to the court of Gaur to ascertain Nusrat's attitude. Realising the impending danger Nusrat professed neutrality, which satisfied Babur and he decided not to make any move on Bengal. Nusrat avoided having any connection with the anti-Mughal confederacy, which was formed by Mahmud Lodi with Afghan chiefs. But a direct conflict with the Mughals could hardly be avoided. In the battle of Ghogra Nusrat faced reverses at the hands of Babur's army, which occupied territories up to the eastern side of the Ghogra on the outskirts of Tirhut, the gateway to Bengal. Diplomatic considerations prevented Babur from proceeding to Bengal before subjugating Oudh and Bihar. Nusrat concluded a peace with Babur. Bengal was saved from an impending cataclysm.

Nusrat avoided joining the Afghans in the battle of Daurah (1531) in which humayun defeated the Afghans headed by Mahmud Lodi. Fearing Humayun's invasion of Bengal Nusrat had sent an envoy to Bahadur Shah of Gujrat with a view to concluding a friendly alliance with him. But Nusrat died in 1532 before the alliance could materialise.

Bengal's hold on kamarupa and Kamta was probably unaffected till the end of Nusrat's reign. Due to his preoccupation with the affairs of the northwestern frontier he had hardly any opportunity to pay attention to Assam. The Muslim governors of Kamrupa and Kamta launched several expeditions against the Ahoms, including one in 1532 under a general named Turbak. The Muslim army had advanced to Kaliabar, but Nusrat could not see the conclusion of the war since he died in 1532. Nusrat's engagements with Pratap Rudra, the ruler of Orissa, cannot be reconstructed properly though it is known that the Orissan king was trying to expand his dominions at the expense of Nusrat's kingdom.

Towards the end of 1521 two Portuguese missions came to the court of Nusrat to establish diplomatic relations with Bengal. The Portuguese were active during his reign in the Bay of Bengal. Goncalo Tavares, one of the envoys, had succeeded in obtaining for the Portuguese merchants a duty-free arrangement for trade in Bengal. Bengal governors of Chittagong had to deal on several occasions with the Portuguese 'menace' in the coastal area off Chittagong.

The reign of Nusrat Shah marked the beginning of the process of disintegration of the Husain Shahi regime, which found its culmination in the reign of ghiYsuddin mahmud shah. In the northwest he had to cede the area west of the Gandak to Babur. He does not appear to have suffered any territorial loss on the eastern or northeastern frontiers. What happened in the southwest is not clearly known.

Nusrat Shah possessed certain noble virtues. The humanitarian aspect of his character was manifest in his treatment towards his brothers and also to the Afghan refugees, some of whom were raised to important ranks. But towards the end of his reign he showed a pusillanimous disposition; the uncertain character of Afghan politics and the superiority of Mughal tactics had placed him in a precarious position. Nusrat patronised Bangla literature, in which his name finds repeated mention. Nusrat is said to have been killed by one of his slaves while he was on a visit to his father's tomb at Gaur. [AM Chowdhury]