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Muhammad Farukh Siyar

Muhammad Farrukh Siyar was the Mughal emperor who remained at the helm from 1713 to 1719. He was the grandson of Bahadur Shah 1 and son of Azim-ush-Shan. He was born on September 11, 1683 at Aurangabad, Deccan. His father was summoned to the court of the emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 where he also accompanied his father. Farrukh Siyar was declared as the deputy of his father, the post he occupied till 1711. He was at Patna when Bahadur Shah died in 1712. A war of succession started and his father was killed and defeated in 1712. Farukh Siyar declared himself the emperor of India soon after the death of his father and started marching towards Delhi. He encountered Jahandar Shah near Agra and defeated him in the battle that took place at Samugarh on January 10, 1713. The following day he became the Mughal Emperor.

 

His accession to the throne was a beginning of the rule of the later Mughals. He was an incapable ruler who completely gave away all his powers to his advisors. Throughout his reign, the atmosphere at the court was fraught with conspiracies, plot, intrigues, etc. His reign was also characterized by the rise of the Syed Brothers who attained the status of kingmakers. They became all powerful rendering the emperor impotent and helpless. At the time of his accession he got the incumbent Vazir Zulfiqar executed with the help of the Syed brothers replacing him with Syed Hassan Ali Khan. This appointment marks the rise of the Syed Brothers as Syed Hussain Ali Khan was made commander in Chief of the Mughal army. All the powers of the empire fell into their hands and the emperor became their puppet. But this does not mean that Farrukh Siyar never tried to retake his lost position and prestige. He prepared a number of plots to get rid of them but never succeeded.

 

As a result of this tug of war, the internal administration of the country deteriorated. Taking advantage of these weak conditions many splinters found the times opportune to expand their power. The Sikhs, Jats and Rajputs flipped their wings. Farrukh Siyar successfully campaigned against the Sikhs in 1715. Their leader Banda Bahadur was captured and was taken to Delhi where he was executed in 1716 along with his followers. Moreover, the situation of Deccan was highly turbulent. He restored the law and order there by appointing Mubraiz Khan as Subedar of Deccan. In 1717 He decreed an imperial Farman allowing the British East Company to conduct duty free trade. This Farman was significant in numerous ways. It enhanced the position of the company. The granting of these trade privileges to the company was very detrimental to the economic interests of the empire. Furthermore, it was later misused by the company’s officials to conduct their illegal trade and an excuse to consolidate their hold in the south India that ultimately led to the establishment of the British Empire in India.

 

The helpless position of the emperor and continuous formation of plots and counter plots led Farrukh Siyar to amass a huge army in Delhi to fight against the Syed Brothers. He also called Asaf Jah from Muradabad and Sirbuland Khan from Bihar but they both refused to fight against the Syed Brothers. In reaction to these preparations, Syed Hassan Ali Khan recalled his brother Syed Hussain Ali Khan who was on a campaign in Deccan. Hussain also brought with him 10000 Marathas. Although the war was averted, but no permanent settlement was sorted out. As a result, the Syed overthrew Farrukh Siyar in 1719. He was imprisoned, starved, blinded with needles and then strangled to death in April 1719. The Syed Brothers continued to play their role as kingmakers replacing one after the others until they themselves were executed in 1722 during the reign of Muhammad Shah Rangeela.

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