Mughisuddin Tughral

Mughisuddin Tughral a governor of lakhnauti during the time of Sultan ghiyasuddin balban. He captured the throne of Bengal and tried to assert Bengal's separate existence. Without any pretension to high lineage or rich heritage, he was the last and the greatest of all the Mamluk rulers of Bengal. Originally a Turkish slave he was sold and re-sold till he was purchased by Ghiyasuddin Balban. Possessed of indomitable will, reckless bravery, resourcefulness and boundless ambition, characteristic virtues of a Turk, Tughral was able to draw the attention and favour of Balban and rose in position step by step till he was made deputy to Amin Khan, governor of Lakhnauti. Being one of the trusted slaves of Balban, he exercised enormous power in the affairs of Lakhnauti and soon became its de facto ruler.

Tughral first turned his attention to eastern Bengal where a number of independent Hindu princes had been ruling on the ruins of the Sena Kingdom. At that time Raja Danuj raI established a kingdom comprising the Dhaka and Barisal districts with its capital at sonargaon, a few miles south of Dhaka. Tughral led several expeditions to eastern Bengal though no details of his expeditions are available. Subsequent events prove that he succeeded in bringing under his effective control the Dhaka-Faridpur region. To consolidate his authority in eastern Bengal, Tughral built a strong fort named Qila-i-Tughral, probably at Laricol (Narkila), about 25 miles due south of Dhaka. Perhaps Tughral kept his personal treasure, his family and state prisoners in this fort.

Taking advantage of a family feud in the neighbouring kingdom of Tippera he supplanted Raja Fa, the reigning king, by his younger brother Ratna Fa and thus extended his political and diplomatic influence there. The new king in gratitude presented a precious jewel and 100 elephants to Tughral, who, in return, conferred the title of 'Manikya' on Ratna Fa. The reigning princes of Tippera have ever since borne this title. Tughral then turned his attention to the southwest and led a number of campaigns into Jajnagar and acquired immense booty in treasure and elephants. As a rule, Tughral was to send one fifth of his acquisition to Delhi. This he did not bother to send and this was his first act of rebellion.

Balban was preoccupied with the Mongol invasions from the northwest. Towards the end of 1277 AD Balban fell seriously ill and a rumour reached Lakhnauti that the sultan had in fact died. At this news, Tughral declared independence in 1277 ad, took the title of Sultan Mughisuddin Tughral (on the evidence of coins, however, it appears that his title was Muizuddin Tughral), assumed a canopy of state, caused the Khutbah to be read and coins to be struck in his name. Consolidating his position by lavish distribution of wealth among the principal nobles and citizens of the realm, he waged war upon Amin Khan, took him prisoner and perhaps killed him.

Recovering from his illness Balban attempted to bring Tughral back to allegiance by peaceful negotiations and persuasion. That attempt having failed the sultan sent against Tughral two expeditions, successively under Amin Khan Aitigin, the governor of Oudh in 1277 and Malik Turmati in 1278 ad. But both the expeditions miserably failed. The defeats of the imperial armies had emboldened Tughral and his power and stature greatly increased. Tughral became so powerful that he was also able to drive back the third expedition, led by Shahabuddin Bahadur, the Amir of Oudh in 1279 ad.

Balban now resolved to march against Tughral in person and advanced towards the east in 1280 ad accompanied by his younger son Bughra Khan with two lakh soldiers and a well-sized flotilla of war-boats, necessary to carry on warfare in riverine Bengal.

Tughral left Lakhnauti with his army and treasure and evacuated the respectable section of the civil population, on the approach of Balban. The sultan captured Lakhnauti unopposed and leaving Hisamuddin in charge of the Bengal capital resumed his march towards eastern Bengal. In order to prevent Tughral's escape by riverways towards the south he made an agreement with Danuj Rai of Sonargaon.

Tughral hurriedly evacuated his fortress of Narkila and proceeded towards Jajnagar. The sultan sent a detachment of troops under Malik Bektaurs with the instruction of sending out small parties in all directions to secure information of Tughral's whereabouts. One day, one such small party under Malik Sher Andaz came to know about the hideout of Tughral from a group of merchants who were just returning after their transactions with Tughral. Sher Andaz took Tughral by surprise. Tughral's soldiers, in utter confusion, ran in all directions and Tughral himself was killed while trying to escape (1281 AD). The soldier who killed him henceforth came to be known as Tughral-Kush (Slayer of Tughral). The family members and adherents of Tughral were all executed by the order of the sultan.

Tughral, an able and a popular ruler, built a strong army and navy, brought the Sena rule in eastern Bengal to an end and considerably extended the boundaries of the Muslim dominion towards the east and the southwest. The political unit of his dominion was known as Arsah-i-Bangalah. [ABM Shamsuddin Ahmed]