By: FPJ Web Desk | June 19, 2023
Calcutta's Fort William, named after William III, sits on the banks of the Hooghly River and was at the centre of the Battle of Plassey. The Black Hole of Calcutta refers to a tiny prison in Fort William. Here is how the prison played a role in changing the course of Indian History.
According to a witness from the East India Company, it was here where the Nawab of Bengal had imprisoned 146 British captives overnight on June 20, 1756 (however, some records say there were 65 prisoners). Since the dungeon did not have enough space, only 23 men were alive the next morning.
The Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daulah had disliked the company making diplomatic relations and building fortresses. Hence the Nawab had ordered his men to take over Fort William, and after three days of fighting the British forces surrendered. This is when the survivors were kept in the Black Hole.
The news of this incident shocked Britain, and Robert Clive was hence sent to take over Calcutta.
Clive went to battle with Siraj-ud-Daulah. This was the decisive battle of Plassey on 23 June 1757.
Clives 3000 men dominatied Siraj’s massive army of 50,000. The Nawab who was on the run after the battle was killed a few days later, on July 2
The Battle of Plassey marked the beginning of British rule in India. Before this, the British had only been trading in India.
The Black Hole was later taken down when the Fort was re-built. A monument to the victims of the incident can be found on the grounds of the nearby St. John’s Church in Kolkata.