1191 A. H.
[9th February, 1777—29th January, 1778]

IN this year Colonel Gower was sent into the Duáb with his contingent, which was in the service of the Wazír, with orders to raze the forts of the refractory zamíndárs and break their power. He first came to Korah. Basti Ram, the Náib of Almas Alí Khán, who, on account of his great oppression, was nicknamed Ujár Rám, sacrificed some zamíndárs instead of the really refractory leaders. Then he moved to the districts under Zainu’l Abdín Khán, and, while he was there, something happened which caused the English uneasiness and resulted in the cancelment of of the order. It was this. There was in the pargana of Tálgám a ta’luqdár named Fatah Chand Pátak. He paid five or six thousand rupees of revenue and had a zamíndári income of about equal amount. Car­ried away by the conceit of youth and by natural daring, he used sometimes to prove refractory. The Colonel surrounded his fort, which was in an open plain and weakly fortified. After three days, when they had made a breach, the Colonel gave orders for an assault. The Pátak sallying out with 3,000 men from his fort, attempted to make his escape at the point where the Colonel himself was. The soldiers resisted his passage, and a severe fight ensued in which about 400 privates and 10 British officers were killed. The Pátak escaped from the field unhurt.

In this year Haidar Beg Khán removed Surat Singh, who used to collect nearly 70 lakhs from the Bareli Division, and entrusted it to Kundan L’al and two or three Kayaths, who were protégés of the Ruhela family and residents of that country. They remained in office two years, and during that time they sent numbers of cultivators from that district into Faizulla Khán’s territory. To that period the begin­ning of the depopulation of Rohilkhand is referred. The Kayaths were imprisoned for their embezzlements and died in confinement, and large sums which they owed to bankers and traders remained unpaid. The only cause for the removal of Surat Singh was the Náib’s private greed.

In the same year the contingent under Mián Afrín, who was an associate of the Wazír’s eunuchs and at this time among his intimates, was also disbanded. They were some thousands of horse and many foot. The younger Goshain, who had remained in the Subah with two or three thousand horse, desired to join Zul­fiqár’ud Daulah’s force, and crossed the Ganges. When he arrived at the Bithur Ghát on the banks of the Ganges, he seized several relatives of Tapar Chand Khazánchi, who had come there to bathe, and carried them off. He had got seven days’ journey beyond the Wazír’s jurisdiction before the order for their release arrived. No one had courage to stop him and the Khazánchi’s relatives remained some years his prison­ers until at last Tapar Chand gave the Goshain his pay and procured their release.

In this year the dismissal and ruin of Zainu’l Abdín took place. It should be noted that Haidar Beg Khán from the beginning of his career, though feigning loyalty, was bent for years on avenging his brother’s death on Shujá’u’d Daulah’s descendants, and was determined not to let a vestige of them survive. For this reason be was unintermittingly bent on disband­ing the troops and ruining the inhabitants of the country. He used to get rid of every old and respect­able official and employ in his stead some mean man of low origin, and he did not put forward the equal of any one whom he removed. If any of the English desired to interfere for the reform of affairs, he prevented them, until no one remained to check him and he established himself supreme. He had an eye solely to his own interests. Remembering, however, these lines:—

Burn me not, for God can limit
The range of thy resentful ire:
When the fuel is exhausted,
The flame, unfed, must then expire,

he relinquished his first designs so far as to let the remnant of them (Shujáu’d Daulah’s descendants) be. He was really a prudent man and understood business: so, why else than for this reason was he guilty of this bad administration?

In short, Haidar Beg Khán, who desired the ruin and disgrace of Zainu’l Abdín Khán, called him to Lucknow at the very season of revenue collection, and began to negotiate with others for the administration of the Dúáb. This led the zamíndárs to play a wait­ing game and the collection of revenue fell into arrears. Afterwards he let him return and put forward Almás Ali Khán in Baisákh as a candidate for the post, and Basti Rám, Náib of Korah, showing a want of pru­dence, then informed most of the zamíndárs of this move. Some letters of Basti Rám’s, bearing his seal, were intercepted and sent to Lucknow. As he had acted at Haidar Beg Khan’s instigation, no notice was taken of this. But the rains had not set in before Haidar Beg Khan thought of another expedient and proceeded to put his intention into execution. It was this. Ismá’íl Beg Shurah at his suggestion informed Mr. Middleton that Zainu’l Abdín had sent for his family from Murshadábád, and that they had left Allahábád and were about to arrive at Etáwah; that, on their arrival, Zainu’l Abdín would join Zulfiqár Khán’s camp with 12,000 horse and foot and artillery and the revenue he had collected. Therefore Haidar Beg Khán sent Basti Ram an order to seize Zainu’l Abdín Khán’s family and at the same time dismissed the Khán. The fact is, that Zainu’l Abdín’s family was coming by Haidar Beg’s own order up the Gumti, and arrived in Lucknow a month after his dismissal, and all that Ismá’íl Beg told was false. In fine, after his removal, Haidar Beg gave those maháls, which had yielded some years previously 52 lakhs, and in my time 45 lakhs, for something over 30 lakhs to Almás Ali Khan, who remained there for some years continuously, and eventually effected a reduction to 25 lakhs. Zainu’l Abdín Khán’s cavalry, some 10,000 men, were also made over to Almás Ali Khán, and Haidar Beg having made out that Zainu’l Abdín owed six or seven lakhs, wished to imprision him, but certain circumstances prevented his doing so. After some months Zainu’l Abdín died of chagrin and rage.

In the course of these changes, I suffered severely. The way was this. As I had charge of the maháls round Korah and I was all the year on bad terms with Basti Ram, he embraced this chance and instigated the refractory zamíndárs of those maháls to plunder me. Accordingly, in the space of three or four days, 10,000 Rájputs collected round the cantonment of Ghátampur, but as there were round the cantonments small mounds of earth like bastions, I had in my turn strengthened the place by digging ditches from the one to the other, on pretence of making a trench into which to shoot rubbish. This fortification prevented their ingress. I remained on the alert under arms night and day for fifteen days, with four or five hun­dred sepoys prepared to die. After that I made arrangements to leave, and I gave out that I would next morning set out along the Músanagar road, a difficult road west of Ghátampur, for the ghát at Kannauj, which was the passage Zainu’l Abdín would take on his return from Etáwah; and that I would fight any one who opposed my journey. My real intention was to proceed viâ Korah, which lies east of Ghátampur, to Lucknow, and there have an interview with Zainu’l Abdín. The Rájputs were misled and stationed them­selves to a man along the other road during the might and lay in ambush for me. In the morning, when the whole of my baggage had been loaded and sent on in the direction of Korah, I and my companions, with three or four guns, got between the baggage and the Rájput leaders, who had with them about a thousand or two thousand men; and when the baggage had got on about a kos in advance, I set out slowly, main­taining a musketry fire as I went. On discovering this move, the Rájputs were amazed, and, hoping to ensnare by the grains of fair speech the prey that had escaped them, sent a messenger saying: “Your departure is a cause of disgrace to us. It is better for you to leave your baggage behind and travel along the road which leads you to a ford after a journey of two or three stages in our territory, so that we may treat you hospitably and show our fidelity.” I replied that I could not rely on their word; that if they were in earnest they should send certain of their leaders into my camp as a condition of my complying with their wish. These leaders, impelled by intense greed and presumption, came. I continued parleying with them, as I went on my way, until we came in sight of Korah, and the Rájput leaders grew very uneasy and begged to be allowed to depart. They fancied that I would hand them over to the ámil, Basti Rám, and thus securing my own escape from him, go on to Luck­now. I demanded from them the payment of arrears of revenue, and having, after some negotiation, got ten thousand rupees out of them, I let them go. Basti Rám, when he saw my boldness and resource, dropped his enmity and made me his guest. Next day I crossed by the ghát of Shiurájpur and went on to Lucknow. Here what I had managed to do when in this strait, enhanced my reputation. After my arrival in Lucknow Haidar Beg Khán sent word to me, advising me to desert Zainu’l Abdín and come over to his side. I replied that I would not. This was the first circumstance that caused him to take a dislike to me. Another cause rose out of the disbanding of Saiyad Jamálu’d dín Khán’s cavalry and the Turáni horse. The most of those skilful horsemen with horses in prime condition, who had been attached to me in the Dúáb, went on their dismissal into Zulfiqáru’d Daulah’s camp.