– Krishna Halder
The sons of BHARATA who did not fear death and died with a smile for liberating their beloved motherland from the chains of subjugation. It was the spirit of the GITA, The UPANISHADS which made them irresistible, and made them realize the ultimate truth that Thou art not the body, Thou art not the mind, Thou art that (pure consciousness). Thou art not dying, Thou shall be born again. There are plenty of them whose stories will make you sob and at the same time excited. But after 75 long years of independence, it is hard to find these stories are discussed in academic as well as in non-academic discourses. The people with selfish motives have kept these stories hidden from us. On the 75th anniversary of our independence, let us pledge to search for those heroes, learn about them, and share their stories as much so that these brave stories are heard by as many people as possible and our children grow up listening these stories of valor and courage.
One among such was LALMOHAN SEN, who was born in 1909 to a Hindu Kayastha family in the island of Sandwip, off the coast of Chittagong, in the Noakhali district of the then Bengalpresidency (now Bangladesh). At the age of 21 years, He broke his uncle’s safe to contribute in the revolutionary fund. After schooling, he took medicine for higher studies. During his college days he was attracted towards the revolutionary activities and joined the Indian Republican Army under the leadership of Surya Sen, popularly known as Master Da. On 18th April, 1930, an attack was carried out to raid the armory of police and auxiliary forces in Chittagong, Bengal province, which is known as Chittagong Armory Raid,Sen played a significant role in it by successfully destroying the transport system in Chittagong just before the raid and due to that involvement, Sen along with Ananta Singh, Loknath Bal, Ganesh Ghosh, Subodh Choudhury, Ananda Gupta, Phonibhushan Nandi, Fakir Sen, Sahayram Das, Banabir Dasgupta, Subodh Roy and Sukhendu Dastidar were sentenced to life imprisonment and deported to Andaman cellular jail. After spending 16 years in Andaman and several other jails, later he was released on parole from Dhaka jail in 1946. He joined the Communist Party of India after his release. In August that year he went to his native resident in Sandwip island. Later in October while Hindus in Noakhali were being massacred by the Muslims (Noakhali Genocide), Hindus in Sandwip island were also attacked by the marauding Muslim mob. Then Sen tried to resist the mobs from killing the Hindus and he was murdered.
1) Sengupta, Subhodh Chandra; Basu, Anjali, eds. (January 2002). লালমোহন সেন [Lalmohan Sen]. Samsad Bangali Charitabhidhan (BibliographicalDictionary) (in Bengali). Vol. 1 (4th ed.). Kolkata: Shishu Sahitya Samsad. p. 501.
3) Trailokyanath Chakraborty, Thirty Years in Jail andPak-India Freedom Struggle, Drupada Sahitya Angan, Dhaka, Dhaka Book Fair 2004, page 178
RAJENDRANATH LAHIRI was another brave son who was born on 29thJanuary 1901 to a Brahmin family in the village of Lahiri Mohanpur in Pabna district of the then Bengal presidency (now Bangladesh). His father Kshitish Mohan Lahiri was a Zamindar of Mohanpur in District Pabna (now in Sirajganj District, Bangladesh). He went to Benaras Hindu University to study M.A. in History and during that time he was introduced to the famous revolutionary, Sachindranath Sanyal. Lahiri’s passion and courage didn’t get unnoticed and he was appointed as the editor of Banga Vaani magazine as well as the coordinator and arms-in-charge of the Anushilan Samiti’s Varanasi branch. Being an active member of Hindustan Republican association (HRA), he orchestrated both the Dakshineswar bombing and the Kakori train robbery,popularly known as the Kakori Conspiracy Case, one of the most notable robberies carried out by the members of HRA (later known as HSRA) which took place on 9th August 1925. Rajendranath Lahiri, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, and Thakur Roshan Singh robbed the train carrying government funds near Lucknow. According to reports, Lahiri was the one who brought the train to a halt by pulling the chain in a second-class compartment.
After the Kakori Conspiracy Case, Lahiri and eight other revolutionaries were sent to a bomb factory in Dakshineswar to learn how to make bombs. According to local reports, a loud explosion during their work alerted the police and they all got arrested. Thisbecame known as the ‘Dakshineswar Bomb Case, and Lahiri, the mastermind behind this lesser-known case, was sentenced to 10 years in the Andamans Cellular Jail. However, while the Kakori train robbery trial started and Lahiri was identified as a co-conspirator, his sentence was transferred from the Cellular Jail to the Lucknow Central Jail. After accusing them of launching war against the British crown and looting the treasury, Rajendra Nath Lahiri along with Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan and Roshan Singh were declared guilty and consequently sentenced to death by hanging.Lahiri was hanged in the Gonda District Jail, Uttar Pradesh on 17th December, 1927, two days before his scheduled execution date, because British authorities feared that the revolutionaries would attempt another escape. Lahiri’s execution is notable not only in revolutionary history, but also in the history of capital punishment in general, as it was the first time when a death sentence was carried out before its scheduled time.
Every year on 17th December, the district of Gonda commemorates Rajendra Nath Lahiri’s supreme sacrifice for the nation as Lahiri Diwas. In his honor, a statue has been erected in the Gonda District Jail.
SACHINDRANATH SANYAL isknown for playing a key role in the armed movement in Indian freedom struggle through his visionary leadership ability. He was a staunch nationalist, who was born on 3rd April 1893 to a Bengali Brahmin family, in the North-Western Province in Benaras. From an early age, he was known for his unconventional perspectives with independent revolutionary ideas. He joined the secret Revolutionary Party at Calcutta in 1907 and in 1909, he formed a revolutionary group called the Young Man’s Association in Varanasi. Later he got acquaintedwith the likes of Pratul Ganguly, Rashbihari Bose.During the British Raj in India, Sanyal was a driving force in igniting revolutionary ideas. During this time, in 1913, he established a Patna branch of the Anushilan Samiti organization. This organization was a gathering of local youths from akharas (gyms), whoadvocated for violent resistance to British rule in India.Sanyal was a close associate of Rashbihari Bose, and was generally acknowledged as the top-ranking leader of India’s revolutionary movement following Bose’s departure to Japan. Across the country, there are many young ideologues, who were inspired by him, and he supervised freedom fighters such as Chandrashekar Azad and Bhagat Singh.
In February 1915, Sanyal took part in the Ghadar party conspiracy, also known as the Ghadar Mutiny, it was a plan to launch a pan-India mutiny in the British Indian Army in order to end the British Raj in India, which also included smuggling of large quantities of arms and ammunition into India in order to spark a nationwide anti-British uprising. However, their plans were foiled when the British authorities learned of the movement and suppressed it by introducing several war-time measures. Sanyal went into hiding in order to avoidBritish action, which helped him to continue the freedom struggle. But later in 1915, he was arrested on the charge of involvement in Lahore conspiracy caseand Benaras conspiracy case, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. During this time, while imprisoned at the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands,he wrote the book, “Bandi Jeevan” (A Life of Captivity). However, after his release in 1920 from Andaman, he again joined the revolutionary organization and led various anti-British activities. He was one of the founding members of the revolutionary organization named as Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), in 1924, which afterwards became the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association(HSRA) in 1928. Use of arms, force, and other harsh measures were in primary focus of HSRA to oppose British rule in India. After returning from the Andamans, he was arrested and detained again in 1924 on suspicion of seditious activities. The Britishgovernment also confiscated his ancestral property including his house in Benaras. On 28th February 1925,he was arrested in an effort to liberate the country by importing weapons from abroad and served two years imprisonment. This time being imprisoned, he was prosecuted for participating in the Kakori Dacoity, found guilty to be deported back to Andaman once again on 6th April 1927. Sanyal has the unique distinction of having been imprisoned twice in the Cellular Jail (Port Blair), one of the worst prisons in the country at the time. He was released and returned to India in 1937, just to get arrested and detained once again in 1941 for collaborating with a foreign power (Japan) against the British government. Unfortunately, during this imprisonment, he contracted Tuberculosis which ultimately proved fatal. He was released from detention and interned to the Gorakhpur Jail in his final days due to ill health. While under internment, he passed away on 7th February 1942.
Sachindranath Sanyal was a true legend, whosebenevolence and love for country, made him indomitable, “Bandi Jeevan” written by him once, gave enough motivation to the revolutionaries and he is largely regarded as the impetus for the Indian revolutionary movement, but remained as one of the unsung heroes in India.
1) Who’s Who of Indian Martyrs, Vol. 1 by Pran Nath Chopra, 2013, page 320.
2) Vol-I, Subodh S. Sengupta & Anjali Basu (2002). Sansad Bangali Charitavidhan (Bengali). Kolkata: Sahitya Sansad. p. 498.
SANTOSH KUMAR MITRA was another freedom fighter of the Indian independence movement who becamemartyred. He was born on 15th October, 1900, into a middle-class Bengali family in Kolkata. He matriculated at the Hindu School in Kolkata in 1915 and graduated from the University of Calcutta in 1919. He earned his M.A. and LL.B. degree between 1921 and 1922.During his student life, Santosh Mitra joined politics and became a member of the Indian National Congress. In 1922, he founded the Swaraj Sevak Sangha and was associated with the Hooghly Vidya Mandir, which was led by one of the Jugantar Leaders,Bhupati Majumder. He was the pioneer of the labor movement. In 1923, in a meeting with the top leaders of the secret revolutionary party, he emphasized the adoption of a revolutionary approach, when others did not accept, he took this path himself. Under Jawaharlal Nehru’s presidency, he organised a Socialist conference in Kolkata. Mitra shifted to the extremist movement in the struggle for independence after the Non-cooperation movement was suspended. In 1923, he was charged with the murder of Shankharitola and arrested. Later released, but again in November 1930, he was arrested and detained due to his involvement in Chittagong Armory Raid. On 16th September, 1931, Santosh kumar Mitra and another captive, Tarakeswar Sengupta received a bullet wound as a result of police firing on political prisoners at the Hijli Detention Camp. Both of them were martyred the same day.
4) Who’s Who of Indian Martyrs, Vol. 1 by Pran Nath Chopra, 2013, page 227.
5) Vol-I, Subodh S. Sengupta & Anjali Basu (2002). Sansad Bangali Charitavidhan (Bengali). Kolkata: Sahitya Sansad. p. 544.
TARAKESHWAR SENGUPTA is another son whose name has been forgotten. Sengupta was born on 18thApril, 1905, in Goila village, Barisal District, Bengal presidency (now Bangladesh), to a Bengali middle-class family. From very childhood, he was inspired by the concept of patriotism by his family.Tarakeshwar Sengupta was involved in several social services. He had ties with the Jugantar group in the Goila branch. He also worked at the Shankar Math and Goila Sevasram. In 1921, he took part in the Non-cooperation movement and soon after the probation of the movement, he joined the Revolutionary Party and became highly active in nationalist activities. He was apprehended and put in jail for several months without trial. Sengupta also participated in the Salt Satyagraha during the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930, and was arrested again under D.I rule and sent to Hijli Jail.He got martyred after receiving bullet wound in firing by the police on political detainees in the Hijli Detention Camp on 16th September, 1931.
1) Who’s Who of Indian Martyrs, Vol. 1 by Pran Nath Chopra, 2013, page 330.
2) Vol-I, Subodh S. Sengupta & Anjali Basu (2002). Sansad Bangali Charitavidhan (Bengali). Kolkata: Sahitya Sansad. p. 188.