Maratha’s Attack

Maratha army from Nagpur under Bhaskar Pandit had entered into Bengal in 1740. At that time, Alivardi Khan was the Nawab(Governor) of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa. He set out for Orrissa to subdue Shuja-ud-din, deputy governor of Orrissa and on his return journey from Cuttack, he retreated to Barddhaman in April 1742 where the Marathas surrounded him. They cut off his supplies and driven by hunger, he had to attempt a retreat to Murshidabad via Katwa. At Nigum Sarai, fourteen miles from Katwa, a desperate rear-guard action was fought and he managed to reach Katwa. From June 1742 Katwa become the head quarter of the Maratha Army. The west of the Bhagirathi under this district thus temporarily passed into the hands of the Marathas.

The Marathas committed unspeakable atrocities on the helpless population of this district. An eye-witness, Vaneshwar Vidhyalankar, the court pandit of the Maharaja of Barddhaman wrote – ‘ Shahu Rajah’s troops are niggard of pity, slayers of pregnant women and infants, of Brahmins and the poor, fierce in spirit, expert in robbing the property of every one and committing every kind of sinful act. …’. In 1742, while Bhaskar Pandit was celebrating Durga Puja at Katwa, Nawab Alibardi Khan fell upon him suddenly, after crossing theGanga at Uddharanpur, a mile north of Katwa and drove him out of Bengal.

On march 1743, Raghuji Bhonsle, the Raja of Nagpur accompaind by Bhaskar Pandit, arrived at Katwa to realize the chouth or 1/4th of revenue which had been promised by the Mughal Emperor and in the presence of Peswa Balaji Rao Alivardi promised to pay the chauth of Bengal. But in the next year, in order to get rid of Marathas, Alivardi invited Bhaskar Pandit and his officers and got them assassinated. In December 1745, a battle was fought between Alivardi and Raghuji Bhonsle at Katwa and Raghuji was defeated and returned to Nagpur.

In November 1746, Alivardi came down to Barddhaman and in a severely contested battle, defeated Janoji Bhonsle, the son of Raghuji. An end to the Maratha troubles could not be effected before 1751, in which year a treaty of peace was signed between Raghuji and Alivardi. Alivardi agreed to pay 12 lakhs of rupees annualy to Raghuji as the chauth of Bengal.