Aga Muhammad Bakar, Mirza

Aga Muhammad Bakar, Mirza a Persian noble who later emerged to have been a powerful zamindar of the parganas of Buzurg Umedpur and Salimabad comprising the major part of the modern greater district of Barisal. He was the son-in-law of murshid quli khan Rustam Jang, the deputy governor (naib nazim) of Orissa under Nawab Sarfaraz Khan. Famous for his firmness and courage, Aga Bakar had an adventurous role in the conflict between Rustam Jang and the new Nawab alivardi khan over the possession of Orissa.

Alivardi Khan became the Nawab of Bengal after the fall of Sarfaraz Khan in the battle of Giria, but Orissa which then formed part of the Bengal subah remained unsubdued. Its deputy governor Rustam Jang refused to recognise Alivardi's authority, and with an object of conquering Bengal started from Cuttack towards Balasore along with Aga Bakar in December 1740 and encamped at Phulwari (four miles north of Balasore town). Alivardi marched out of his capital in January 1741 accompanied by his nephew Saiyid Ahmad Khan Saulat Jang with a large body of troops and fixed his camp at Ramchandrapur, situated at a distance of three miles from Rustam Jang's camp.

Mirza Bakar launched the attack and a severe fight ensued. Rustam Jang was defeated at Phulwari on 3 March 1741, and Mirza Bakar was seriously wounded. Rustam Jang fled with his wounded son-in-law to Masulipatam, his family being left in a forlorn condition in the fort of Barabati. They were saved from being captured by Alivardi's men through the timely aid of a friend of Rustam Jang, who was the Raja of Khurda. Rustam Jang's general Shah Murad safely conducted them to lnchapur in the Ganjam district, whence they ware brought to Mirza Bakar. They had to spend their days in the Deccan in a destitute condition. Alivardi captured Orissa and left his nephew and son-in-law Saiyid Ahmad Khan Saulat Jang as its deputy governor.

Saulat Jang soon made him unpopular and gave an opportunity to the old officers and partisans of Rustam Jang to invite Mirza Aga Bakar. The soldiers of Saulat Jang, newly recruited in Orissa and discontented due to his ill-advised policy of reducing their pay, openly revolted against him. Mirza Bakar readily responded to the call and re-entered Cuttack along with Mir Habib with a batch of Maratha infantry in August 1741. Saulat Jang and his entire family were captured and placed under strict confinement in the fortress of Barabati. Mirza Bakar soon captured Midnapur and Hijli.

Alivardi, hearing of this discomfiture, marched towards Orissa and inflicted a defeat upon Mirza Bakar at Raipur on the southern bank of the Mahanadi in December 1741. Mirza Bakar was able to escape capture through the help of Murad Khan, a general of the Raja of Khurda, and ran away to the Deccan with his Maratha allies by the road of Champaghati.

Aga Bakar seems to have surrendered to Alivardi Khan sometime at the beginning of 1742, and was granted a fief in the parganas of Buzurg Umedpur and Salimabad which he held till his death in 1754 AD. He established a big ganj (mart) in Buzurg Umedpur, which was named Bakarganj after him. Bakarganj grew up into an important port-town where Persians, Armenians and Kashmiri Khwajas used to trade in salt and hide. Aga Bakar appears to have controlled his estate through a deputy, himself residing in Dhaka.

Aga Bakar and his son Aga Sadeq appear to have been involved in the palace intrigue in the Murshidabad nizamat, and were in clear alignment with Sirajuddaula against nawazish muhammad khan, the absentia naib nazim of Dhaka. Nawazish Muhammad Khan used to rule Dhaka through his deputy Hussain Quli Khan who at a later stage left for Murshidabad leaving his nephew Husainuddin Khan to rule Dhaka as his deputy. sirajuddaula charged Husain Quli Khan and Husainuddin Khan with conspiracy, and got Husain Quli Khan murdered in the street of Murshidabad, and later got Husainuddin Khan murdered through his agent Aga Sadeq in Dhaka in 1754 AD. In retaliation Mirza Ali Naqi, a relative of Husainuddin and the kotwal of Dhaka, mobilised the people and raided the residence of Aga Bakar. Aga Sadeq fled by the back door leaving his old father a victim to the infuriated mob (1754). Mirza Aga Bakar lies buried in a tomb to the north of Aga Sadeq Maidan in Dhaka. [Muazzam Hussain Khan]