Saturday, April 23, 2016

History Mystery: Black Hole Tragedy of India


Black Hole Tragedy – An Event of Indian History

The Black Hole that depicts the dark Tragedy is an event side of Indian History. Siraj ud-daulah, the Nawab of Bengal then had captured Fort William and Calcutta, on June 20, 1756, in which laid the main power of the British East India Company. After the fall of the fort, the British together with the Anglo-Indian prisoners of war had been pushed in small and stuffy dungeon at Fort William which is referred as the Black Hole of Calcutta.

 It was reported that around 146 people had been imprisoned. It was claimed by the British that the dungeon had a possible dimension of 24 x 18 feet which was not adequately spacious to accommodate so many of them who had been forcibly shoved into the congested place.

According to the British records, the next morning about 123 of the prisoners had succumbed to their contrary conditions which was mainly owing to suffocation, crushing and unbearable heat. One of the survivors, John Zephaniah Holwell had provided this statistical information, though some state that the total number of captives was not over 69 and Indian troops had taken the surviving defenders prisoner.

Image credit : Bong Blogger

Debate Regarding Precise Toll Still Continues….

Those among the prisoners were civilians and soldiers. Three other captives together with Holwell had been sent as prisoners to Murshidabad while the rest of the survivors had been released after the interference and following victory of Robert Clive. The debates regarding the precise toll tend to continue till date and the actual figures are not known. The Black Hole of Calcutta thereafter was utilised as a warehouse and a monument of 50 feet high had been set up in memory of the dead by Holwell but by 1822, it had vanished and presently there are no traces of the black hole.

Substantial history is there behind the capture of Fort William and the event of the Black Hole of Calcutta. The British had set up Fort William in order to safeguard the trade of the British East India Company, in the city of Calcutta in the region around Bengal. Towards 1756, in an attempt to colonize Bengal and steadily the rest of India as well as to be prepared for possible battles with the French forces, the British had started strengthening the military defense of Fort William.

Affected Internal Political/Military Affairs of Bengal

By doing so, they had affected the internal political as well as the military affairs of Bengal and the ruling Nawab of Bengal – Siraj ud-Daulah was unhappy with the excessive interference and envisaged it as a probable threat to the sovereignty of Bengal. He had ordered the British to end the on-going military action. However, the British did not seem to list to him.

In an attempt to curb the violence of British, the Nawab of Bengal had stormed the fort and killed several of them. The chief officer of the battalion planned an escape and a token force had been kept in the military fort, under the control of John Zephaniah Holwell who was a military surgeon and a top East India Company civil servant. The soldiers belonging to the allied troops who were mainly Dutch, in the meanwhile had abandoned the fight and the British eventually failed to resist the attack of the Nawab.

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