Syed Mir Jafar Ali Khan Bahadur (c. 1691 – 5 February 1765) was a military general who became the first dependent Nawab of Bengal of the British East India Company. His reign has been considered by many historians as the start of the expansion of British control of the Indian subcontinent in Indian history and a key step in the eventual British domination of vast areas of modern-day India.
Mir Jafar served as the commander of the Bengali army under Siraj ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal, but betrayed him during the Battle of Plassey and succeeded Daulah after the British victory in 1757. Mir Jafar received military support from the East India Company until 1760, when he failed to satisfy various British demands. In 1758, Robert Clive discovered that Jafar had made a treaty with the Dutch East India Company at Chinsurah through his agent Khoja Wajid. Dutch ships of the line were also seen in the River Hooghly. Jafar's dispute with the British eventually led to the Battle of Chinsurah. British company official Henry Vansittart proposed that since Jafar was unable to cope with the difficulties, Mir Qasim, Jafar's son-in-law, should act as Deputy Subahdar. In October 1760, the company forced him to abdicate in favor of Qasim. However, the East India Company eventually overthrew Qasim as well due to disputes over trade policies. Jafar was restored as the Nawab in 1763 with the support of the company. Mir Qasim, however, refused to accept this and went to war against the company. Jafar ruled until his death on 5 February 1765 and lies buried at the Jafarganj Cemetery in Murshidabad, West Bengal. Mir Jafar remains a controversial figure in Indian history and has become a symbol of intimate betrayal and treachery among Bengalis.
In 1747 the Maratha Empire led by Raghoji I Bhonsle, began to raid, pillage and annex the territories of the Alivardi Khan, the Nawab of Bengal. During the Maratha invasion of Odisha, its subedar Mir Jafar and Ataullah the faujdar of Rajmahal completely withdrew all forces until the arrival of Alivardi Khan and the Mughal Army at the Battle of Burdwan where Raghoji I Bhonsle and his Maratha forces were completely routed. The enraged Alivardi Khan then dismissed the shamed Mir Jafar.
Jafar initially showed loyalty to Alivardi Khan's successor Siraj Ud Daulah, but betrayed him to the British in the battle of Plassey. After Siraj Ud Daulah's defeat and subsequent execution, Jafar achieved his long-pursued dream of gaining the throne, and was propped up by the East India company as a puppet Nawab. Jafar paid Rs. 17,700,000 as compensation for the attack on Calcutta to the company and traders of the city. In addition, he gave bribes to the officials of the company. Robert Clive, for example, received over two million rupees, and William Watts received over one million.
Soon, however, he realized that company's expectations were boundless and tried to wriggle out from under them; this time with the help of the Dutch. However, the British defeated the Dutch at the Battle of Chinsurah in November 1759 and retaliated by forcing him to abdicate in favor of his son-in-law Mir Qasim. Qasim proved to be both able and independent-minded, although he soon came into dispute with the company over their refusal to pay taxes to Qasim. Mir Qasim formed an alliance to force the East India Company out of East India. The company soon went to war with him and his allies. The Battle of Buxar was fought on 22 October 1764 between the forces under the command of the East India Company led by Hector Munro, and the combined armies of Mir Qasim the Nawab of Bengal, Shuja-ud-Daula the Nawab of Awadh, and the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. With the defeat in Buxar, Mir Qasim was eventually overthrown. Mir Jafar managed to regain the good graces of the British; he was again installed Nawab in 1764 and held the position until his death in 1765.
"Some ill-designing people had turned his brain, and carried him to the eastern part of the Mughal Empire, which would be the cause of much trouble and ruin to our regimes."
In 1760, after gaining control over Bihar, Odisha and some parts of the Bengal, the Mughal Crown Prince Ali Gauhar and his Mughal Army of 30,000 intended to overthrow Jafar, Imad-ul-Mulk after they tried to capture or kill him by advancing towards Awadh and Patna in 1759. But the conflict soon involved the increasingly assertive East India Company. The Mughals were led by Prince Ali Gauhar, who was accompanied by Muhammad Quli Khan, Hidayat Ali, Mir Afzal and Ghulam Husain Tabatabai. Their forces were reinforced by the forces of Shuja-ud-Daula and Najib-ud-Daula. The Mughals were also joined by Jean Law and two hundred Frenchmen and waged a campaign against the British during the Seven Years' War.
Although the French were eventually defeated, the conflict between the British East India Company and the Mughal Empire would continue to linger and ended in a draw, which eventually culminated during the Battle of Buxar.
The breakup of the centralized Mughal empire by 1750, led to creation of a large number of independent kingdoms in Northern, Central and Western India, as also North-Western India (now Pakistan) and parts of Afghanistan (all provinces of the former Mughal empire). Each of them were in conflict with their neighbor. These kingdoms bought weapons from the British and French East India companies to aid their wars. Bengal was one such kingdom. The British and French supported whichever princes ensured their trading interest. Jafar came to power with support of British East India Company. After the defeat of Sirajuddoula and later Mir Qasim the British strengthened their position in Bengal and in 1793 abolished the nizamat (referring to the Mughal suzerainty) and took complete control of the former Mughal province. The word "mirjafar" in Bengali and the phrase "meer jafar" in Urdu, are used much as quisling is used in English, and Jaichand of Kannauj in North Indian history.