Bagha Jatin was the uncrowned king of the revolutionary activities in Bengal between 1908 to 1914 till his heroic death in a trench battle with British police and army. He was one of the masterminds behind the series of daring attacks on British administration between 1908 to 1914, that culminated in the historic heist of the arms from Rodda Company. Jatin had influenced many young revolutionaries of Jugantar, like Biren Dattagupta. He wanted to foment a rebellion in the Jath regiment of the Fort Williams but his plan was foiled and he was arrested in the Howrah Conspiracy Case. He worked secretly to get an arms consignment for a planned uprising in 1914. However the planned uprising failed as the ship Maverick was caught. Bagha Jatin and his associates Chittapriya, Jyotish, Niren and Manoranjan fought with a full British army led by Charles Tegart, in Baleswar district of Orissa on 9th September, 1915. Bagha Jatin was wounded in the battle and died on the next day on 10th September. Bagha Jatin had given the clarion call, "we shall die but India shall rise", to his revolutionary associates.
Image courtesy Wikipedia. Vasudev Phadke was greatly moved by the economic plight of India under the British rule and the mistreatment of the natives by the Europeans. While acting as a clerk he did not get leave to be with his dying mother. This pointed out to him the grave injustice of the British tyranny and he vowed to fight with it. He was greatly influenced by the British policies that had harmed Indian economy. He developed a group of revolutionaries to fight against the British and collected funds by looting the treasury and disbursing money to the famine affected villagers. He organized the tribal and the so called low and backward castes to rise in rebellion. In 1875 severe famine had devastated parts of Maharastra and Vasudev organized the Ramoshi caste to launch a rebellion. He became very popular and a bounty was placed on him by the British. Vasudev moved further south to Hyderabad and formed an army with the Rohilas. In Hyderabad he was pursued by the British Major William Daniel and the police commissioner of Nizam of Hyderabad Abdul Haq. Ultimately he was captured through a betrayal after a fierce fight and was deported to Aden in February 1883. He tried escaping but was recaptured. He then went on a hunger strike and died as a result of it.
Birsa Munda was a tribal leader of the Santals who wanted to establish an independent Munda kingdom by fighting against the injustices and the oppressions of a tyrannical British rule. Christian Missionaries had started converting the tribal in the Chaibasa area and Birsa studied in a missionary school. He was born in the Khunti district of Jharkhand. For a brief period Birsa had converted to Christianity as it was compulsory for studying in a Mission school. But then his family realized the real intention of the Missionaries. He became founder of a new religion among the tribal and directed them to follow their traditional practices. In the meanwhile the land belonging to the tribal folks were being usurped by the British rulers using a Thikadar class. Birsa created mass awarenes against this injustice and oppression that had left Santals like Oraons, Mundas and Kharias extremely poor. Birsa gave the clarion call - Abua raj seter jana, maharani raj tundu jana - let the kingdom of the queen go and our kingdom get established. At first he was arrested and sent to two years imprisonment. The Birsa followers led by him carried out attacks against the British until 1900. Birsa was captured and died in British prison. After his death the Santal movement petered out.
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Sakharam Ganesh Deuskar
Sakharam Ganesh Deuskar was a Marathi Brahmin settled in Bengal. He was known as the Tilak of Bengal. He had a profound influence on the revolutionaries and was connected with Aurobindo Ghosh. He published a book titled Desher Katha, giving a detail illustration of the British economic exploitation of India. The book was banned by the Government in 1910. Deuskar first used the word Swaraj in the context of independence. He was a history teacher born in Deoghar in 1869. He came in contact with Rajnarayan Bose in 1893 and got interested in the soio political situation. He was the editor of Hitavadi from which he resigned in 1907 after the Surat congress split between Moderates and Nationalists. Sakharam met Swami Vivekananda in Belur Math.
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On 22nd June, 1897, the Chapekar brothers, Damodar, Balkrishna and Vasudev, shot dead Ayerst and Rand in Pune, in retaliation for the treatment meted out to the common men by Plague Commissioner Rand. In 1896, in the wake of Bubonic Plague, Rand stipulated draconian measures to control Plague, by stripping naked even women for check without any consideration for their modesty. Such indignities brought strong condemnation from Balgangadhar Tilak. The Chapekar brothers waited on the roadside for the carriage of Rand and first killed Ayerst. Then they killed Rand and escaped. Damodar was arrested and treachery of Dravid brothers revealed the location of Balkrishna and Vasudev. The three brothers were hanged along with Mahadev Ranade. Tilak was sent to jail. Swami Vivekananda, on hearing the incident said that a gold statue of the three brothers should be installed near the India Gate of Bombay.
Balgangadhar Tilak was also known as Lokmanya Tilak. He was one of the founding fathers of Indian Nationalism. He introduced the Ganapati festivals and together with Aurobindo, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, led the Extremists within Congress. "Swaraj is my birthright and I will have it," he thundered. Tilak met Swami Vivekananda in Belur Math and was inspired by the monk's vision of India. His paper Kesari took up different Nationalist causes. In 1909 Tilak was sentenced to a six year's imprisonment in Mandalay. In Jail he wrote his famous book Gita Rahasya. After he was released, Tilak, came back to take centerstage in National Politics and ensured a reconciliation between Moderates and the Nationalists of Congress. He promoted the cause of Home Rule and together with Annie Besant, propagated the Home Rule movement He toured the whole of India in support of Home Rule and established several Home Rule association branches. Under his dynamic leadership Home Rule became a strong movement and Moderates within Congress became irrelevant. Tilak went to Britain to get the support in favour of Home Rule. Unfortunately, with his death in 1920 India lost her most important leader.
Surya Sen or Masterda as he was popularly known, was the chief architect of the uprising in Chattagram that culminated in the armoury raid and subsequent battle in the Jalalabad hills. Surya Sen was later captured and hanged. Surya Sen had a band of young followers who would sacrifice everything for the freedom, being sinpired by the ideals of Master Da. Surya Sen came in close contact with Subhas Chandra Bose. On 18 April 1930, Surjya Sen and his associates Ganesh Ghosh, Ananta Singh, Loknath Bal, Tripura Sen, Nirmal Sen, Ambika Chakrabarty and many others attacked the Police and Railway Armoury in a coordinated assault and completely cut off Chattagram by blowing off telegraph, telephone exchanges and rainlway line. They proclaimed a provisional Government and headed for Jalalabad when the larger British troops encircled them. In the tough yet unequal battle that followed twelve revolutionaries lost their lives including young boys like Tegra. Another pitched battle broke out in Kalarpol in which four revolutionaries lost their lives. Associates of Surjya Sen carried out several attacks while Surjya Sen was preparing for further revolutionary activities. He was however caught owing to a treachery and was hanged after a brutal torture in police custody.
Jatindranath Bandopadhyay, later Niralamba Swami was intimately associated with Aurobindo. He wanted to join the British Indian Army but could not get an opportunity as British had barred any non martial race like Bengalis from joining the army. He went to Baroda and with the help from Aurobindo Ghosh enlisted himself into the cavalry of the Rajah of Baroda. He had a strong body and he soon learned the art of war from a Madhav Rao. Aurobindo then sent him to Bengal to create small secret organizations and train the youth for fighting. In Calcutta he met Sarala Devi, P Mitra, Surendranath Bannerjee, Chittaranjan Das and others. later because of differences in pirnciples with Barindra Kumar Ghosh and the Jugantar team, Jatindranath gave up active politics and was inclined towards renunciation. As a wandering monk he started visiting soldier camps in secret and spread the ideals of rebellion in Garwal and other parts of India. He had met Bhagat Singh in Punjab and influenced him. He spent his later life in his ancestral village of Channa till his death in 1930.
Rashbehari Bose was one of the masterminds behind the 1915 uprising in the army barracks across India and the Indo German Conspiracy that was part of the Ghadar movement. He had earlier planned the assassination of Lord Hardinge in Delhi in 1912 in an audacious attempt with his associates Basanta Biswas, Avadh Bihari and Bal Mukund. He had developed the revolutionary network in almost entire North India from Punjab to Benares. He was from Chandannagore and had close linkage with the revolutionary network of Bengal led by Bagha Jatin. Rashbehari, ably supported by his colleagues like Sachindranath Sanyal and Vishnu Pingle, as well as the leaders of the Ghadar Party like Kartar Singh, formulated an audacious plan of a mutiny across the barracks on 21st Feb 1915, but the plan was foiled owing to a treachery. Rashbehari took the name of P.N Tagore and escaped to Japan. In Japan Rashbehari was aided by the Black Dragon Society of Mitusyo Toyoma, and he dedicated his life for India's freedom by enlisting the support and sympathy of Japan and other Asian Nations. He established Indian Independence League and helped established the Indian National Army before handing it over to Subhas Chandra Bose. He died in January 1945 in Japan
Jatin Das, who was a major with Bengal Volunteers, had been actively associated with Revolutionary movement and was arrested in Lahore Conspiracy Case. He died by fasting unto death for a record 63 days in protest against inhuman treatment of the Indian prisoners. Jatin Das was extremely close to Subhas Bose. He undertook a hunger strike in Mymensingh Central jail to protest against ill treatment. He undertook Bomb making for the revolutionaries in Punjab viz. Bhagat Singh. He was arrested on 14 June 1929 and was imprisoned in Lahore jail where he undertook a 63 day long hunger strike. He courted martyrdom on 13 September, 1929. When his dead body was carried from Lahore to Bengal a huge crowd gathered in every station to pay respect. In Calcutta there was massive gathering and outpouring of grief led by Subhas Chandra Bose. Family of Irish martyr Terence Mcswiney had sent their condolence on this heroid death. Only Gandhi had termed the death as a diabolic suicide
Binoy Badal Dinesh
Binoy Bose, Badal Gupta and Dinesh Gupta were three daring revolutionaries of Bengal Volunteers best known for their role in the Writer's Building Veranda battle and killing of I.G Prison Simpson. Binoy had earlier killed Inspector General Lowman in Dhaka and seriously injured Hudson wh. Dinesh was one of the key organizers of the revolutionary activities in Medinipur. Binoy, a bright young student of Dhaka Medical College, shot dead I.G Lowman and escaped to Calcutta, where he was sheltered by Bengal Volunteers. Bengal Volunteers had planned to eliminate I.G Prison Simpson for his alleged role on the torture of Subhas Chandra Bose in prison and Binoy, along with Badal and Dinesh were the willing soldiers entrusted with the duty. The operation was done with the help of volunteers Rasomoy Sur, Nikunja sen, Rajen Guha, and others. A fierce gun battle followed with the Gurkha brigade of British forces and Binoy was injured while Badal committed suicide by consuming cyanide after their ammunition ran out. An injured Binoy died in hospital Dinesh was hanged after a farcical trial.
Lala Lajpat Rai, findly called as Punjab Kesari, was one of the triumvirate Lal Bal Pal and an Extremist or Nationalist leader along with Tilak and Bipin Pal. Lajpat Rai led the Nationalist movement in Punjab in the wake of the Swadeshi and anti Partition of Bengal Movement and was deported to Mandalay prison from 1907 to 1910. Lajpat Rai gave up his law practice in 1914, traveled to the America during the World War 1 and petitioned for India's cause in the Senate. He also had close links with the Ghadar Party. Lajpat Rai along with Tilak, Pal and Aurobindo, opposed the partition of Bengal and promoted Swadeshi & Boycott movements. In 1919 he came back to India and was elected as the Congress President in 1920. Lala Lajpat Rai supported the Khilafat and Non Cooperation movement launched by Gandhiji. He was sent to prison between 1921 and 1923. After release he was elected to the legislative council. He was involved with Hindu Mahasabha to ensure Hindu unity to secure India's freedom. In 1927-28 he led the protests against Simon Commission and while leading a demonstration was brutally assaulted by police. He later died in the hospital.
Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru
On March 23, 1931, three great heroes of Indian freedom movement attained martyrdom - Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. Bhagat Singh was born in 1907 in a Sikh family in the village Banga. He was a nephew of Sardar Ajit Singh, a famous revolutionary leader of Punjab who had worked alongside Lala Lajpat Rai and was deported to Mandalay. He started his revolutionary activities at the age of 14. He founded thee Naujawan Bharat Sabha for the freedom of India. In order to take revenge of Lala Lajpat Rai's death, Bhagat Singh and his associates assassinated police officer Saunders in Lahore. Bhagat was also a prominent member of the Hindustan Republican Army. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt, threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi to protest against the draconian acts against industrial workers. He, together with Sukhdev and Rajguru were arrested in the Lahore Conspiracy Case. In jail they had started a fast unto death against unhygienic conditions and discriminations and were treated very harshly. Jatin Das courted death. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged on 23rd March 1931 in secrecy. Gandhi-Irwin pact was just signed but Gandhi could not save their lives. Even their bodies were not handed over to the relatives.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, popularly known as Veer for the bravery displayed by him in driving out a group of Mohamedan plunderers in his youth. He was a lawyer cum writer, cum poet, cum revolutionary. Born in May 1883 in Nasik, he studied in Fergusson College in Pune and went to England for studying Law. His elder borther was Ganesh Savarkar. Veer Savarkar became a close associate of Shyamji Krishna Varma and was a leader in the India House. He supplied arms to the revolutionaries in India and was involved in planning the assassination of Curzon Wylie. He was arrested for the Nasik Conspiracy Case and was sentenced to fifty years of deportation for two terms. He made a daring attempt in Marseilles by trying to escape through the port hole and swim across the ocean to the mainland but was caught by French gendarme who handed him over to the British. He spent around 12 years in Cellular jail and subsequently in Ratnagiri prison. He later became a leader of Hindu Mahasabha for organizing the Hindus to protect their interest against the communal politics of the Muslims backed by the British Government.
Surendranath Bannerjee or Surrender Not as he was known in the early stages of his career, was a Moderate leader who emerged as one of the key leaders during the Partition of Bengal movement. He was one of the founding members of Indian National Congress and also founded the Indian National Association in 1883. He had cleared the Indian Civil Services and had worked under the British Government. He founded Ripon College in 1882 and in 1879 founded "The Bengalee" Newspaper. He supported the Morley Minto and later Montegu Chelmsford reforms and his political career declined owing to his support of the British policies against an awakened Nation's wish. He wrote the book "Nation in the Making." Post 1920 the Moderates gradually lost their influence in Indian politics owing to their conciliatory approach towards the British rule. Surendranath Bannerjee was defeated in his last electoral battle against the Swarajists of C.R Das in Bengal. He was Knighted by the British for his loyalty and was also made a Provincial minister. He died in .
Aurobindo Ghosh (Sri Aurobindo) was brought up in England and rejected ICS to return to India. He took up a job with the Baroda Raj and extensively studied on the conditions of India. Aurobindo Ghosh was inspired (in a dream) by Swami Vivekananda to dedicate his life to the service of the Motherland. He was in Baroda when the Swadeshi movement started in Bengal. He came to Bengal in 1906 to study the situation and attend Barisal Conference. He then decided to make Bengal as the center of his activities. Aurobindo became the first principal of the Bengal National College, but left it on account of differences with the leaders. He edited Bande Mataram. In 1908 he was arrested in Alipore Bomb case and was released after a long trial by the efforts of Chittaranjan Das. He edited Karma Yogin and was assisted by Sister Nivedita. By then he became a realized soul and later he escaped to Pondicherry and became took to Yoga and renunciation. He wrote the epic poem Savitri and book Life Divine on the basis of the theme of his Integral Yoga. He took a passive interest in Indian freedom movement in his later life. He died on 15th August, 1950.
Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki led the assassination attempt on Magistrate Kingsford in Muzaffarpur. Khusiram was inspired by Aurobindo and Sister Nivedita and joined the Anushilon Samity and the Jugantar group of Barindra Ghosh. They attempted to kill the notorious British magistrate Kingsford by throwing a bomb to his carriage but unfortunately it killed two European ladies, Mrs. and Miss Kennedy. Khudiram was caught in Waini station while escaping and Prafulla was caught by Inspector Nandalal Bannerjee. Prafulla shot himself to evade arrest while Khudiram, an 18 year old, was sentenced to death after a brief trial. His counsels had challenged the order in High Court but to no avail. Khudiram was hanged on 11th August, 1908 and he walked up to the gallows cheerfully. Khudiram's sacrifice is memorized in the folks songs and ballads attached to his name that are immensely popular in Bengal.
Kanailal Datta and Satyen Bose were revolutionaries who were arrested and put to trial during the infamous Alipore bomb case. Kanailal originally belonged to Chandannagar. From Chandannagar he came to Calcutta and joined the Jugantar group of Barindra Nath Ghosh. Kanai and Satyen were arrested in the Muraripukur Bomb case along with other revolutionaries and sepnt the time cheerfully in jail. When Narendranath Goswami turned a traitor and testified against the fellow revolutionaries, esp. Aurobindo Ghosh, Kanai decided to punish him.Kanai got admitted to the same hospital. Satyen and Kanai got hold of pistols in jail and killed Naren in the jail hospital in a dramatic way by chasing him. Kanai and Satyen were caught and after a brief trial were given death sentence. Kanai very cheerfully accepted the verdict and used to recite Swami Vivekananda's jnanayoga in the condemned cell. Kanai was hanged on 10th November, 1908. A huge crowd of people gathered to pay last respect to Kanai's body and women showered flowers from the balcony, showing the popular support. Satyen was sent to the gallows after that. Their death roused the young revolutionaries of Bengal to perform similar daring acts.
Ashwini Kumar Datta
Ashwini Kumar Datta, the Mahatman of Barishal, was born in 1856 and was an educationist who was a key leader of the anti Partition of Bengal and Swadeshi movement. He was actively associated with the Indian National Congress from very early days. Later he also joined the non cooperation movement. He was the founder of Brajamohan institution in the name of his father. He also founded the Swadesh Bandhab Samiti for promoting Swadeshi goods during the Partition of Bengal movement. Aswini Kumar led the anti partition movement in Barisal and was also an active social worker who was loved by Hindus and Muslims alike. When Moderates and the Nationalists parted way in Surat he attempted a reconciliation between the two factions. He was deported from Barishal and jailed for 2 years from 1908 to 1910 in Lucknow. After his release he focused more on educational activities and handed over his schools to a trust. In 1919 he undertook relief measures in Barishal cyclone. In 1920 he joined the Non Cooperation Movement and Gandhiji came to visit Barishal. In 1922 he actively supported the striking workers of Assam Bengal Railway in protest against the atrocities in tea plantation workers. He died in 1923.
Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das gave up his high earning and lucrative career of a barrister to devote himself wholeheartedly to the freedom movement and gave away all his wealth to the poor. When he was still a struggling barrister he rose into fame in the Alipore Bomb Case when he spiritedly defended Aurobindo Ghosh, who became free as a result. Chittaranjan Das steered the Non Cooperation movement in Bengal and became the face of it. He drew around his himself by his magnetic personality many of the promising youth of Bengal who had joined politics, like Jatindra Mohan Sengupta, Birendranath Sasmal and Subhas Chandra Bose. His leadership led to a total hartal in Bengal on the occasion of the Prince of Wales's visit. He set example by sacrificing his family at the altar of freedom when his wife and son courted arrest. He formed the Swaraj party over differences with Gandhi and Congress and across India many great leaders joined him. Had he lived for long, there was a strong possibility of Gandhi becoming irrelevant. His death in 1925 was an irreparable loss to the freedom movement.
Barindra Kumar Ghosh was the younger brother of Aurobindo Ghosh and followed his elder brother's footsteps to spearhead the Nationalist movement in the wake of the Partition of Bengal in 1905. He obtained military training in Baroda and partnered with Jatindranath Bannerjee to organize revolutionary societies in Bengal by imparting training to the youth. He started the daily Jugantar that took a strong stance against the atrocities of the British Government during the anti Partition movement., including armed military activities. Barin was the leader of the group of revolutionaries that manufactured bombs in a factory in Maniktolla, Calcutta, tried killing Andrew Fraser and Kingsford and assassination attempt on other English officials. In 1908, after the failed attempt on Kingsford by Khudiram, Barindra and the fellow revolutionaries, along with Aurobindo, were arrested in the Muraripukur bomb case . Barindra was deported to the Andamans and was put up in the Cellular jail. In 1920 he obtained a general amnesty and was released. He joined Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry for spiritual pursuit and later resumed his career in journalism. He died in 1959. He had written several books on the revolutionary activities and his experiences in jail.
Bina Das aka Bhoumik, was the younger daughter of Benimadhab Das, the teacher who had influenced and inspired Subhas Chandra Bose. Bina had longed to see her homeland free from the foreign aggression, perhaps under the silent inspiration of her patriot father. She took up the more active route unlike her elder sister Kalyani who participated in the non Violent Civil Disobedience Movement. She shot Bengal's Governor Stanley Jackson on 6th February, 1932, in the Convocation Hall of the University of Calcutta. Bina had earlier joined the Volunteer Corps of Subhas Chandra Bose in the 1928 Calcutta Congress. She got her inspiration from Kamal Dasgupta, a fellow woman revolutionary. She had taken several shots at Jackson but none of them reached the target. Suhrawardi, the then Vice Chancellor caught her. British Government sent a defiant Bina to nine years in jail for the assassination attempt. Bina and her parents never revealed where she got her gun, despite severe provocation. She was released in 1939 and in 1941 she had joined Congress. She served three years in prison during Quit India movement. After her release she married Jyotish Bhoumik and engaged herself in social work and standing for protecting the interest of refugees and poor. She died under mysterious circumstances in Rishikesh in 1986.
Biplobi Trailokya Nath Chakrabarty was a key leader of the Anushilon Samity and had spent 30 years in various jails, including Cellular jail and Mandalay jail. He joined anti Partition movement as a young student and was jailed in 1908. In 1913 he was jailed again in the Barisal Conspiracy Case and was sent to the Andamans. There he had for company the Savarkar brothers, Bhai Paramanand, Sachindranath Sanyal, Barindra Nath Ghosh, Pulin Das and the revolutionaries of the Ghadar Party. In 1927 he was deported to Mandalay prison where he had Subhas Chandra Bose as his jail mate. In 1928 he was released and he joined Hindustan Republican Army. He was jailed again from 1930 to 1938. He joined the anti Subhas faction of the Bengal Congress and later after his release in 1939 he joined the session of Congress in Ramgarh. In 1942 he tried to foment a rebellion in the Indian Army but did not succeed. He was jailed again in 1942 and was released in 1946. Henceforth he devoted himself to the organizational activities staying back in East Pakistan and fighting for the right of the Bengalis. He took part in the Bangladesh Liberation Movement and was tortured and jailed by Pakistan Government. He died on a visit to India in 1970.
Leelabati Nag nee Roy, was a prominent woman revolutionary whose husband was fellow revolutionary Anil Roy, founder of Sri Sangha. Leela Nag, the first woman post graduate from Dhaka University, had founded Deepali Sangha, for spreading education among women and also founded several schools for women. Deepali Sangha later came under Sri Sangha when she dedicated herself to revolutionary activities. She presented a paper in the 1928 Calcutta Congress and she and Anil had come in close contact with Subhas Chandra Bose. Ani Roy was a versatile genius - a writer, philosopher and musician per excellence. In 1930, she started the Jayashree magazine whose name was given by Rabindranath. Jayashree was supportive of revolutionary activities and hence Leela and her assistants were jailed in 1931. She was released in 1937. In 1938 she became a member of the planning commission when Subhas Chandra Bose was the president of Indian National Congress. In 1940, she and Anil joined Forward Bloc and actively assisted Subhas in reorganizing the revolutionary and political activities. She and Anil were jailed in 1942 and were released in 1946. She came to Noakhali for rescuing the women victims of the genocide of Hindus by fundamentalist Muslims. After Anil passed away in cancer in 1950, Leela dedicated herself to social work and uplift of women and in helping the refugees from East Bengal.
Bipin Chandra Pal was a prominent Nationalist leader of Congress who had rose into prominence during the anti Partition of Bengal and Swadeshi movement and one of the Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirates. He had gone to England in the 1898 and on his return he became an ardent champion of India's freedom, together with Aurobindo. He was also interested in getting rid of the social evils like caste system and advocated National Education as opposed to British mode of education. He was a journalist, worked with prominent dailies like The Tribune, New India and Bande Mataram, and had under the influence of Brahmo Samaj, esp. its leader Shibnath Shastry. He was inspired by Bijoy Krishna Goswami, the Brahmo Samaj leader turned Vaishnava saint. He actively propagated Boycott movement and was one of the key architects of the early National Movement by inspiring youth to join and embrace the revolutionary movement. His writings and speeches were stirring and had played a major role in shaping the opinions of the educated Indians. Bipin Chandra Pal had supported the Home Rule Movement of Tilak but he did not support the Khilafat and non Cooperation movement of Gandhiji as he could clearly see through the fundamental flaws. He bitterly opposed Gandhi and his methods and remained dissociated from Congress until his death in 1932.
Hemchandra Ghosh, popularly called Barda or elder brother, was the founder of the Mukti Sangha which was later reorganized as Bengal Volunteers in 1928 to help support the revolutionary activities in Bengal in general. Hemchandra, as a young boy of eighteen years, had met Swami Vivekananda in Dhaka, East Bengal in April 1901. Vivekananda had inspired him to fight against the tyrannical and oppressive British rule by asserting that there would be no other dharma other than the freedom of India and to read Anandamath. Hemchandra was arrested in 1914 and was jailed for six years. Hemchandra gave the character of Biplobi Sabysachi to Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay for his novel Pather Dabi. From 1920 to 23 Mukti Sangha closely coordinated with other umbrella organizations like Sri Sangha, Shanti Sangha etc. Under Hemchandra Ghosh, Mukti Sangha and later Bengal Volunteers carried out many daring attacks including the killing of I.G Lowman, attack on Writer's Building by Binoy Bose, killing of the notorious magistrates Peddie, Douglas and Berge in Medinipur and so on. Bengal Volunteers actively supported Subhas Chandra Bose during his tussle with the Bengal Congress leadership and later after his resignation from Congress Presidentship. Hemchandra was jailed during the Quit India Movement and lived in Calcutta until 1979.
Nirmal Sen, Loknath Bal, Ambika Chakrabarty, Ananta Singh, were close associates of Masterda Surjya Sen and they along with several young men, mostly Masterda's students, comprised of the Indian Republican Army that masterminded the Chattogram uprising on 18th April, 1930 in a coordinated attack. Large cache of arms and ammunition were taken from the armoury after which the revolutionaries had completely cut off all communication. The British police and Government officials had fled and Union Jack was brought down and Indian National Flag was raised. Chattogram was independent. Soon the British forces moved their Eastern Command and brought in reinforcements. The revolutionaries escaped to the Jalalabad hills and continued their battle. In the day long battle with British army that had heavy Lewis guns, the revolutionaries lost twelve of their intrepid soldiers - Tegra, Tripura Sengupta, Naresh Roy, Bidhu Bhattacharya, Prabhas Bal, Pulin Ghosh, Madhu Datta, Shashanko Sen and others. Ambika, Ardhendu, Nirmal were injured. Masterda and Nirmal escaped. Ganesh, Ananta, Loknath Bal escaped to Calcutta. Nirmal Sen was killed in the battle of Dhalghat with British Military police Cameron. Masterda and Tarakeswar were apprehended and hanged in 1934. Ganesh and Ananta were deported. Others were killed, deported or were served long prison sentences. Thus the great revolutionary uprising of Chattogram painted a glorious chapter of resistance that shook the foundations of a mighty Empire.
Originally from the Deepali Sangha of Leela Nag, Preetilata Wadeddar was a lieutenant in the Indian Republican Army of Masterda Surjya Sen in Chattogram. Preetilata and her fellow classmate Kalpana Datta, joined Surjya Sen's Indian Republican Army in the Dhalghat camp in presence of Masterda. She had met Ramkrishna Biswas, accused in the assassination of Tarini Mukherjee, who also belonged to Masterda's group, in Alipur jail and was inspired by his spirit of self sacrifice. Preetilata had been staying with Masterda and Nirmal Sen in the residence of Savirtri Devi in Dhalghat. British got wind of their presence and a military force led by Cameron had attacked them. In the gun battle that followed Nirmal Sen was killed and Masterda and Preetilata somehow escaped. In 1932 Surjya Sen planned to launch a daring attack on the Pahartali European Club. Kalpana had been apprehended by police and Preetilata was entrusted to lead this attack. On 24th September, 1932, a group of revolutionaries led by Preetilata attacked the European club and hurled bombs that caused a mayhem. Several Europeans were injured and one woman was killed. Preetilata was injured by police firing and to evade arrest she consumed cyanide.
A poet, reformer and a freedom fighter who was greatly inspired by Sister Nivedita from whom he learnt how to break social taboos and provide equal status to women and practised the same. Bharathi looked beyond the prevailing orthodox customs and developed a very broad outlook, He considered women as manifestation of Shakti, the divinity. He entered into journalism and the love for his country poured forth in his writings and poems. He joined as assistant editor of Swadeshmitram. He edited the weekly India and Bala Bharatam in 1907. His wrote many poems on the religious, spiritual, political and social issues. He attacked the British Government as well as the social evil of caste system. In Surat Congress in 1907 he supported the Nationalists under Tilak and Aurobindo. In 1908, faced with the prospect of arrest, Bharathi retired to Pondicherry and published and edited the journal Vijaya in Tamil and other publications in English. The British tried to suppress him by banning his publications. During this period of exile Bharathi met Aurobindo again in Pondicherry. In 1918 he was arrested by the British in Cuddalore and was sent to prison. He was released in 1920 and spent his last years in Triplicane in Madras. He died in 1921 as a result of a tragic accident in Parthasarathy temple.
Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, who was originally Bhabanicharan Bandhapadhyay, was a great Nationalist, Patriot and Spiritual leader. He was the editor of the Sandhya, the periodical that relentlessly attacked the Government during Anti Partition and Swaraj movement in Bengal and was popular with the masses. In his earlier days, Brahmabandhab, known as Bhabani Charan Bandophyay, had embraced Keshab Chandra Sen's Brahmo ideals. He, together with Hirananda Advani of Brahmo Samaj, went to Sindh and there being influenced by Christian ideologies was converted to Protestantism. However he kept wearing ochre (Gerua) robes and lived like a Hindu. Sometime later he adopted Catholic Christianity and edited Sophia, a Christian Paper in Sindh. He had launched several attack on Vivekananda, his erstwhile friend, and Vedanta through Sophia. However by 1898 he embraced Vedanta and returned to Bengal. He met Vivekananda and was inspired by him to travel to England to preach Vedanta. After his return, he became an ascetic and started taking more interest in Nation building and started editing Sandhya which played a prominent role through its colloquial language in spreading the ideals of Nationalism among ordinary Bengalis. He was on the verge of being arrested for his rigid anti British stance and was brought to the court of magistrate Kingsford, when he died in 1907. He had re-embraced Hinduism before his death and was a staunch supporter of Ramakrishna Vivekananda ideals.
VO Chidambaram Pillai
V.O Chidambaram Pillai was one of the key architects of the Swadeshi movement in the South India. He was a barrister, who inspired by the Swadeshi and the Boycott movement, had established a Swadeshi Shipping Corporation in Tuticorin. The ships commenced regular trips between Tuticorin and Colombo. The British competitor reduced prices and even offered free journey but could not compete. Hence the British used their executive power. In 1908 V.O.C and his friend Subramanya Siva, gave a speech to the workers of a local mill to protest against their working conditions and low wages and led them to a strike. V.O.C and Siva were arrested for their involvement in political activities against the Government in March 1908. There was widespread protest but the court imposed harsh imprisonment for life which was later reduced. V.O.C was treated as ordinary convict and his health greatly suffered. His shipping company was liquidated and ships sold to his competitor. V.O.C's legal practice license was revoked and he had to live the life of a shopkeeper to earn his living. V.O.C's guru was Tilak and he had differences with Gandhi. Even though he admired Satyagraha he did not like Gandhi's emphasis on Non Violence as the only way. He rejoined Congress in 1927, got back his legal license and tried to protect the interests of the workers and the poor.
Lala Hardayal was a key Ghadar party leader and a Sanskrit scholar and ascetic who played a leading role in the Indo German Conspiracy. After coming to London in 1905, he came in contact with Shyamji Krishna Varma and Bhikhaji Cama. He was also influenced by Vinayak D. Savarkar. In 1907 he wrote an inflammatory article in Indian Sociologist on the British Government in India. He gave up the prestigious Oxford University scholarship and returned to India in 1908. His writings in newspapers in India criticizing the Government was banned by the British Indian Government. Hardayal decided to leave India and first went to Paris and then Algeria. Afterwards he shifted to the United States. He had been leading a spiritual life with an inclination towards Buddhism. He also came in contact with revolutionary leader Bhai Paramanand. He set up a scholarship to help Indian students coming to US. After holding key leadership position in Ghadar he was forced to leave America and escaped to Germany to join the Berlin Committee in their attempt to initiate a revolution in India. After the failure of the scheme of revolution in 1915, Hardayal went to Switzerland, Turkey and finally to Sweden. After the failure of the Ghadar movement, Hardayal devoted himself to spiritual and academic pursuits and obtained his PHD from London. He died in 1939.
Madanlal Dhingra was an Indian student in London, who killed William Curzon Wyllie in 1909 and was sentenced to death. Dhingra, as a student, was deeply troubled by the poverty of India which was caused by the rampant economic exploitation by the British. He was inspired by the Boycott of British goods and he embraced the Swadeshi movement. He severed connection with his father who was a loyal Civil Surgeon under the British and hated Nationalists, and started working independently often doing odd jobs. In 1906 he went to London upon insistence of his elder brother. He was associated with the India House of Shyamji Krishna Varma, which was a meeting place of all revolutionaries and Nationalists. He came in close contact with Shyamji and V.D Savarkar. Dhingra was denounced and disowned by his family including his father, for his political activities. Dhingra was outraged by the Partition of Bengal and had attempted to kill Curzon, the Viceroy of India. He had also attempted to kill Bampfylde Fuller, the Lt. Governor of Assam and East Bengal who had carried out a reign of terror, but was not successful. Subsequently he decided to kill Curzon Willie, who was the head of the secret police and was working against the Nationalists in London. In July 1909 Dhingra killed Curzon Willie in a public function and was caught. He refused defence in his trial and was hanged in August 1909.
Madam Bhikhaji Cama belonged to an influential Parsi community and was one of the only few ardent Nationalists of that community who devoted herself to freedom movement. In 1905 while in London she came in contact with Shyamji Krishna Varma and through him Dadabhoi Naoroji. She supported the establishment of the Indian Home Rule Society in London. She was warned by the British Government and had to leave London for Paris where she established the Paris Indian Society along with S.R Rana. She wrote and distributed revolutionary literature while in exile and actively supported the Indian revolutionaries abroad including Savarkar and Madanlal Dhingra. In 1907 she was invited in Socialist Congress in Stuttgart, Germany, she strongly denounced the role of British Government in India and unfurled her own design of the flag of independent India. Madam Cama had arrived late Marseilles in time to save Savarkar. The British Government had requested for her extradition but French Government had resisted till World War 1 broke out. Cama and Rana were briefly arrested by the French authorities in 1914 and Cama was detained in Vichy. She remained exiled in Europe till 1935 when she was allowed to return to India where she passed away in 1936.
Shyamji Krishna Varma was born in 1857. He was a scholar of Sanskrit and other languages and a journalist. He went to study in Cambridge and returned to India. In 1881 he represented the Orientalists in Berlin He was a Diwan of a number of princely states including Junagarh, but conspiracies of petty British officials made it difficult for him to stay. He was influenced by Dayananda Saraswati and Balgangadhar Tilak. He settled in London after Rand's assassination in Pune. In 1905 he organized the Indian Home Rule Society and started a journal called Indian Sociologist. He started the India House in London which had provided help to Indian students coming for studying in England. He arranged for scholarships for Indian students and had around him a group of patriotic Indians. The most prominent among them were Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Madanlal Dhingra and Lala Hardayal. The center of their activities was the India House founded by Shyamji in London. Shyamji was not in favour of violent activities. Shyamji through his Indian Sociologist carried out anti British propaganda and was touted as a dangerous enemy of the British for his influence on the Indian student community. He kept close contact with Madam Bhikhaji Cama. He left London for Paris before British Government could arrest him. He had promoted the interest of India across whole of Europe and campaigned for release of Savarkar.
Raja Mahendra Pratap was born in the family of the chief of Hathras. He was inclined to patriotic activities from his boyhood. He took the vow of using only Swadeshi goods in 1906. During World War 1 he went to Europe, met Hardayal in Geneva, and proceeded to Germany. There he met the Kaiser who had decorated and honoured him. With the help of German officials he managed to get the German Government to take an active interest in India's freedom. A Mission was sent to Afghanistan with explicit support from Germany. The Mission was received cordially by the king Habibullah who extended diplomatic support. Mahendra Pratap became the President of the Provisional Government of India in Kabul in 1915 and tried to enlist support of other countries in freeing India through armed revolution. Maulavi Barkatullah was his Prime Minister. Amir of Afghanistan kept on delaying expedition to India and sabotaged the plan. He had contacted Turkey and Egypt and received assurance of support for ending British Empire. British had declared a bounty on his head. He travelled to Japan, Russia and other countries to promote India's cause and seek support. In independent India he became a member of the Loksabha and lived until 1979.
Champak Raman Pillai
Bipin Bihari Ganguli
Bipin Behari Ganguli was the leader of Atmannoti Sabha. He was one of the masterminds of the Rodda company Arms Heist. He was also a key leader along with Aurobindo in the anti Partition related revolutionary activities. Key members of Atmannati Samity included Kalidas Bose, Shrish Mitra, Anukul Mukherjee, Girin Bannerjee and others. The HQ of the Atmannati Samity was in Malanga Lane. In 1921 Bipin Behari Ganguly joined the Indian National Congress during the non Cooperation movement and remained an active Congress member. He presided over the conference of Bengal Congress in 1920. He was also a Trade Union leader and was the President of the Bengal National Trade Union Congress. He joined the Quit India movement in 1942, was arrested and imprisoned. After independence he fought the elections and became a minister under the Bengal Government.
Shrish Pal & Shrish Mitra
Shrish Mitra and Shrish Pal were the architects of the Rodda Arms Heist, the most successful heist of a consignment of Mauser pistols and cartridges, in Aug 1914. The heist was done in broad daylight, using a bullock cart. Shrish Pal and Shrish or Habu Mitra were members of Mukti Sangha and had close ties with the Atmannoti Samity of Bipin Behari Ganguly. Shrish Pal (also called Naren Datta) had killed inspector Nandalal Bannerjee in Calcutta, who had earlier captured Prafulla Chaki. Shrish Pal was the mastermind of the Rodda Arms heist plan which was executed with the help of a number of revolutionary associates belonging to different groups. After the Arms Heist, he provided safe passage to Habu Mitra who was a clerk of the Rodda company, and who had cleared the consignment of the arms from the Customs to load it in the bullock cart driven by Haridas Datta. Habu Mitra was sheltered in Rangpur with Dr. Surendra Bardhan In the end Shrish Pal was caught in 1916 and was sent to various prisons under Regulation Three. he was released in 1919 owing to ill health and still continued as an advisor to various revolutionary activities until his death in 1939. Habu Mitra was moved to Assam to live among tribal community and his end was unknown. No definite charges could be framed against anyone in the Rodda Arms Heist case.
Dr. Jadugopal Mukherjee
Satish Chandra Mukherjee
Satish Chandra Mukherjee was an educationist and patriot who had initiated the Dawn society for the training of the youth in character building. Later he edited the publication named Dawn. He was a proponent of the national form of education during the Swadeshi movement. In 1905 Dawn Society had become one of the most active centers for propagating Swadeshi and Boycott movement. Among the prominent members of Dawn Society were Sister Nivedita, Jatin Mukherjee, Binoy Kumar Sarkar, Radha Kumud Mukherjee. Satish took a key part in forming the Council of National Education. Later he settled for a spiritual life in Varanasi and shunned active politics.
Haridas Datta was a key member of the Mukti Sangha established by Hemchandra Ghosh. Haridas was entrusted with the task of eliminating O'Brien, a British engineer who had kicked and killed a Bengali clerk. However the conspiracy was discovered and Haridas took up job aboard a steamship to stay away from the police. He was a key architect of the Rodda Arms Heist in 1914. Haridas Datta acted as the cart driver of the bullock cart that had the consignment of Mauser pistols. Earlier, with help from Prabhudayal Himmatsingka he had managed to dress himself up as a Hindustani bullock cart driver. He was later caught when he went to remove a part of the consignment from the storehouse and was sentenced to four years of rigorous imprisonment in Presidency Jail and Hazaribagh State Prison. After being released he was actively involved in planning and organizing revolutionary activities, and he gave shelter to Binoy Bose of Bengal Volunteers. He was popularly called Mejda among the Bengal revolutionaries.
Pulin Bihari Das
Image courtesy Wikipedia. Pulin Bihari Das was the founder of the Dhaka Anushilon Samity. He founded the National school that was used to train the revolutionaries, and established many branches of the Anushilon Samity across East Bengal. Pulin Das organized several sensational robberies for collecting fund, including the well orchestrated Barrah village dacoity. He was arrested in 1908 and again in 1910 when he was sent to Cellular jail in Andaman. After his release in 1918 he gradually severed his ties with Anushilon Samity which had accepted Mahatma Gandhi's ideals and Congress activities, after a brief attempt of rejuvenating the revolutionary activities. He died in 1949.
Ashfaqullah Khan was one of the key revolutionaries of the Hindustan Republican Association involved in Kakori Train Robbery and was sentenced to death along with Ramprasad Bismil, Rajen Lahiri and Roshan Singh. He was from a Pathan family in Shahjahanpur, UP. After the cessation of the Khilafat movement, Ashfaquallah had jpined the Hindustan Republican Association, which aimed to carry out revolutionary activities across India and wanted to secur funds by looting Government treasury. On 9 August, 1925, Ashfaqullah, Ramprasad Bismil, Rajen Lahiri, Thakur Roshan Singh and others stopped the passenger train from Kakori and looted the Government money. One passenger was accidentally killed. Ashfaqullah was betrayed by one of his friends who turned him to the police in Delhi. He was lodged in Faizabad jail. In jail he became a devout spiritual person and read Koran. He was executed on 19 Dec 1927 along with Bismil, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri.
Chandrasekhar Azad was the revolutionary associated with the famous Kakori Conspiracy Case where the Hindustan Republican Army revolutionaries had looted the official cash aboard the train in a daring feat. Chandrasekhar, born Tiwari, instead choose his name as Azad in an incident of defying the dictum of an English magistrate. He came in contact with Ramprasad Bismil in 1922. He was a master of disguise and was not caught in the Kakori case. In 1928 he was involved in the assassination attempt on Saunders to avenge Lala Lajpat Rai's death. In 1931 a treachery by an informant disclosed his location to the police. Azad and his associates carried on a tough battle in the Alfred Park of Allahabad till he had ammunition. He fired his last bullet on himself and embraced martyrdom on 27th Feb.
Pradyot Bhattacharya was the famous young revolutionary of Bengal Volunteers in Medinipur who had shot dead Magistrate Douglas in 1933, who had earlier masterminded the infamous shootout in Hijli jail on the innocent poisoners. Medinipur was a hotbed of revolutionary activities of Bengal Volunteers under Dinesh Gupta and Jyotish Jowardar. In retaliation to Dinesh's hanging, Medinipur volunteers sent judge Garlick, Magistrate Peddie, James and Berge to death. The assassination of Douglas was entrusted to Pradyot and his comrade Prabhansu Pal during Zilla Parishad meeting. Pradyot was caught, underwent severe torture but did not reveal the names of his associates. He was subsequently hanged. His touching letters to his mother asking her not to grief over the death of one Pradyot, is a source of inspiration.
Ramkrishna Biswas was closely associated with Masterda Surjya Sen in the Chattogram revolution.
Pramod Ranjan Choudhury and Ananta Hari Mitra were hanged for the killing of Bhupen Chatterjee, an extremely notorious Deputy Superintendent of Police in Calcutta, who had specialized in breaking the moral courage of the political prisoners. Pramod Ranjan Choudhury was only twenty two years old when he and Ananta Hari were sent to the gallows in September 1926. Pramod was born in Chattogram and had joined Anushilon Samity in 1921. He also took part in the Non Cooperation Movement and was arrested in connection with the Dakshineswar Conspiracy Case. Mitra was also arrested in connection with the Dakshineswar case where a bomb factory was discovered. It is alleged that Mitra and Choudhury had killed Bhupen Chatterjee using an iron rod in absence of any firearm in jail. Other inmates including a convicted murderer named Moti, had refused to testify against them despite torture and offers of reward. Therefore police set up a concocted case with some European prisoners and thus could secure a capital punishment.
Ujjwala Majumdar (later Rakshit Roy), was one of the four revolutionaries who went to assassinate the Bengal Governor John Anderson in the race course in Lebong in Darjeeling. On 8th March 1934, Bhabani Bhattacharya, Robi Roy, Manoranjan Bannerjee and Ujjwala Majumdar, conspired to kill the Governor and fired their shots at him but missed. Bhabani was sentenced to death and was executed in 1935. Ujjwala was sentenced to twenty years of rigorous imprisonment after she was arrested from the house belonging to a Jugantar revolutionary. She was released in 1939 from Dhaka jail through the efforts of Gandhiji to secure a release of political prisoners. Afterwards she was arrested again during Quit India movement and served prison sentence till 1946. She was the daughter of Suresh Chandra Majumdar who was actively associated in helping the Bengal Volunteers. She joined Forward Bloc of Subhas Chandra Bose and later she joined the Socialist Republican Party of Sarat Chandra Bose. She went to Noakhali to help the riot victims, esp. hapless Hindu women. Later she formed an organization to help in village development work. She married the great revolutionary writer Bhupendra Kishore Rakshit Roy.
Bhupendra Nath Datta
Bhupendra Nath Datta was the youngest brother of Swami Vivekananda and was the editor of Jugantar patrika.
Bhupendra Kumar Datta
Bhupendra Kumar Datta was a freedom fighter who was associated with the Jugantar group.
Founder of the Hindustan Republican Army, Ramprasad Bismil was one of the key architects of the great train robbery of Government money that led to the Kakori Conspiracy Case. He was associated with Arya Samaj and got inspiration from Satyartha Prakash. He was also a poet in Hindi and Urdu. He was connected with Mainpuri Conspiracy for looting Government money for revolutionary activities. In 1921 he participated in the Ahmedabad Congress, was a key supporter of Purna Swaraj and organized Non Cooperation Movement in UP. After Non Cooperation and Khilafat ended in 1922, Bismil organized a revolutionary group with active help and support from Dr. Jadugopal Mukherjee and Sachindranath Sanyal. He formulated a master plan for looting Government money from a train in Kakori near Lucknow, on 9 August, 1925. A group of ten revolutionaries successfully stopped the train and decamped with a large booty. However one of the teenager revolutionaries, Manmatha Nath Gupta, accidentally killed a passenger with a Mauser pistol. Police arrested the revolutionaries associated with Kakori Conspiracy Case. Ramprasad Bismil, Rajendra Lahiri, Ashfaqullah Khan and Roshan Singh were sentenced to death after their mercy petition was rejected. Ramprasad was executed on 19 Dec 1927. His dying wish was that British Empire would cease to exist. Manmatha being a teenager, received fourteen years of imprisonment.