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Shujauddin Muhammad Khan


Shujauddin Muhammad Khan nawab of Bengal from 1727 to 1739. He ascended the masnad of murshidabad on the death of his father-in-law murshid quli khan. Shujauddin had a son by his wife Zinatunnissa, daughter of Murshid Quli Khan, named sarfaraz khan. Murshid Quli Khan had nominated his grandson as his successor. Accordingly a showdown was about to take place between father and son. It was, however, averted by the intercession of Murshid Quli Khan's widow. On his assumption of office Shujauddin appointed Muhammad Taqi, his son by another wife, and murshid quli khan ii, his son-in-law, naib nazims of Orissa and Dhaka respectively. Sarfaraz Khan was posted as the diwan of Bengal. Alam Chand (later on Rai Raiyan), the diwan of Orissa, was appointed the diwan of the khalsa (crown) land at Murshidabad.

Shujauddin followed a policy of friendship towards the zamindars and set free those who were imprisoned during the past regime. Collectors who were found guilty of harnessing land revenue by oppressive means were summarily dealt with and punished. Shujauddin collected 1.50 crore taka from the zamindars and sent the amount to the imperial treasury of Delhi through Fateh Chand. Emperor Muhammad Shah was very pleased with him and gave him the title of Mutaman-i-Mulk Shujauddaula Asad Jang.

Shujauddin was an impartial and just ruler. He was kind and liberal to his officials - civil and military. Under him rice was cheap and again, long after shaista khan regime, sold at eight maunds per Taka. Shujauddin came to be known for his pompous habits and lascivious character. He used to depend much on his officials in performing his duties. Taking advantage of the weaknesses of the nawab's character, the supposedly faithful officials were engaged in treacherous activities in order to fulfil their selfish ends. Administrative responsibility fell on Haji Ahmed, Alam Chand and jagat sheth Fateh Chand. These officials resorted to foul play by implanting seeds of a rift between his sons, Sarfaraz Khan and Taqi Khan. It was, however, averted by the intercession of Sarfaraz's mother.

Some administrative reorganisation took place during the time of Shujauddin. In 1733 Bihar was added to the Bengal Subah. Nawab Shujauddin divided the provinces into four divisions: (a) central division consisting of West Bengal, north Bengal and central Bengal; (b) Dhaka division consisting of east and south Bengal, a small portion of north Bengal and the districts of Sylhet and Chittagong; (c) Bihar and (d) Orissa. The central division was administered directly by the nawab who was assisted by a council of advisers. Other divisions were placed in charge of a Naib Nazim or naib subahdar. alivardi khan was given charge of Bihar and Murshid Quli Khan II that of Dhaka. But after the death of Muhammad Taqi, Murshid Quli II was transferred to Orissa and Sarfaraz Khan became the naib subahdar of Dhaka in his place. Sarfaraz, however, did never live in Dhaka and administered it by his adviser Syed Galib Ali Khan.

During Shujauddin's time peace prevailed in Bengal. But for a while it was interrupted by Badiuzzaman, the Afghan zamindar of Birbhum, who was, however, suppressed by the united action of Alivardi Khan and Sarfaraz Khan.

The nawab punished those zamindars who collected additional fund called abwabs from peasants. Shujauddin died in 1739 and was buried in the garden called Farahbag at Murshidabad. [KM Karim]