Hyderabad: As the 261st anniversary of the Battle of Plassey — considered to be the turning point for British rule in India - falls on June 23, the Plassey Gate on Gough Road next to the AOC military hospital is a reminder of that historical event.
The infamous Battle of Plassey is remembered as the victory of the British over Bengal, opening the way to the south and the conquest of the lands that make up modern day Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
The battle which took place at Plassey was betw-een Nawab Siraj-ud-Dau-lah who was the last independent Nawab of Bengal, and the East India Comp-any forces led by Major General Robert Clive.
Clive bribed Mir Jafar, the commander-in-chief of the Nawab’s army by promising to make him Nawab of Bengal and got him to side with the British leading to the defeat of the Nawab.
Mohan Guruswamy, a policy analyst says, "We still continue to celebrate the defeat we had to face who celebrates it?, we continue to conform to their traditions and suffer from a colonial hangover. I have even voiced my opposing views against a town named Wellington in Tamil Nadu in honour of a commander who was the Duke of Wellington who charged a war against Tipu.”
K.S. Nair, a defence historian, gives an added perspective. “During the battle of Plassey, Siraj-ud-Daulah was fighting against the Marathas and Afghans as well. He is considered as the last Nawab of Bengal which is why Bengali and Bangladeshi historians never want to hear a word against him but he was also an unpopular ruler. We should also remember that it wasn't a unified attack of Indians against the British. Most of the states that were against Siraj-ud-Daulah were fighting with the British, meaning that nearly 85 per cent of the troops on the British side were Indian and there were Frenchmen as well!”
He says it's all a matter of historical interpretation. “There is always an amount of treachery in each war. A bit of deception is standard military tactics and if it can save the lives of troops on either side, it is considered right.”
He further said that by naming a gate after the battle does not necessarily mean that we are commemorating the British as both sides had Indian men so it can serve as a memorial for the lives lost.
Mohan Guruswamy also stated that the as the Indian army dons the attitude of the British forces, it will not be possible to break away from the same. “All the road closures are an example of the same. Things cannot be done at the will of the army. They need to seek opinion of the Secunderabad Cantonment Board and moreover the land has been given just for use and not for commercial use.”