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Rajmahal, The battle of


Rajmahal, The battle of inaugurated the Mughal rule in Bengal. The independent sultanate of Bengal came to an end with the fall of ghiyasuddin mahmud shah, the last Husain Shahi sultan, in 1538. Mughal Emperor humayun occupied the capital city of gaur, which he could not keep under his possession for long. The battle of Chausa (1539) gave the Sur Afghans, in the person of sher shah, the mastery over Bengal, which lasted for a quarter of a century (1538-1563).

Bengal regained its independence with the emergence of the Karranis. daud khan karrani, the last of the Karranis, was not willing to acknowledge the supremacy of akbar and issued coins and read the Khutba in his own name. For various reasons he had to face the Mughal onslaught and was defeated in the battle of Tukaroi (1575) by munim khan. The hostilities came to an end with the signing of the treaty of Katak (12 April 1575) by which Daud ceded practically the whole of Bengal and Bihar to the Mughals retaining only Orissa under his control.

But the treaty of Katak was short-lived. The death of Munim Khan emboldened Daud to come out of Orissa and recapture the lost territories as far as teliagarhi. The remainder of the Mughal officers left Gaur and Tanda and hastened to Patna. Daud once again became the master of west and north Bengal together with Orissa. Eastern Bengal was under isa khan and his associates. Isa Khan drove away the Mughal flotilla of war-boats under Shah Bardi.

Hostilities reopened and Akbar conferred the title of 'Khan-i-Jahan' on Husain Quli Beg and entrusted him with the task of wresting Bengal from the hands of Daud. Daud, on his part, took full preparation with reinforcements by the army of Kalapahad, Junaid and Qutlu Khan. These Afghan leaders never considered the treaty of Katak to be binding upon them. Daud posted three thousand select Afghans at Teliagarhi to defend the pass and himself with the rest of his forces took position in the rajmahal hills, near the narrow passage between the spur of the hills and the Ganges.

Husain Quli Beg encountered the Afghans at Teliagarhi, who gave a severe fight and about half of them fell in the battle. Teliagarhi pass, consequently, came under the possession of Husain Quli Beg, who now marched against Daud at rajmahal. The Afghans stood like one man and it would not be easy to dislodge them from their positions. On the other hand Mughals encountered various hazards and hurdles - there was the shia-sunni strife in the Mughal camp, the monsoon was about to set-in and, above all, there was deficiency in ration supply and ordnance support.

Khan-i-Jahan Husain Quli Beg marked time at Rajmahal for about four months. In the meantime, at the orders of the emperor, Muzaffar Khan Turbati, governor of Bihar, came with 5000 horsemen and boatloads of provisions and ammunitions in aid of Khan-i-Jahan.

The reinforced Mughals encountered the Afghans at Rajmahal on 12 July 1576 (15 Rabi II 984 AH). Junaid commanded the left of Daud's army, Kalapahad the right, Daud himself the centre and the vanguard was commanded by Qutlu Khan. Junaid, struck by a cannon ball, met an instantaneous death. This disheartened Daud's army and they fled in all directions. Kalapahad and Qutlu Khan managed to escape, but Daud was taken a prisoner as his horse was stuck in quagmire. Khan-i-Jahan, considering Daud's life to be a source of constant disturbance and insurrection, ordered for his immediate execution.

Thus ended the battle of Rajmahal that brought the Afghan rule in Bengal to an end and started the process of Mughal subjugation. But Afghan resistance continued at least for three decades under the leadership of Isa Khan, the Chief of the bara-bhuiyans. The defeat and execution of Daud removed a determined and formidable enemy of the Mughals, but it did not, in any way, secure the Mughal hold over Bengal, nor did it put an end to the Afghan resistance. [Muhammad Ansar Ali]