• kewal sethi

political violence in bengal in thirties

आज़ादी चरखे से आई

political violence in bengal in thirties

ref "gentlemanly terrorists" by durbha ghosh- cambridge university press 2017


we start with the chittagong armoury raid.

on 18th april 1930, indian republican army led by surja sen and consisting of about 60 revolutionaries laid siege to chaittagong for four days. it was an eloborately planned attacked in which the revolutionaries siezed european club, police armoury, telephone and telegraph offices. they cut off all communications with offiicals in other parts of the country. after the end of siege the persons dispersed. protected by villagers around, they escaped olice detection. the leader surja sen was arrested about a year later. (chittagong was under military occupation from november 1931 through 1933).

much against the expectations of the revolutionaries, no incidents flared up elsewhere. over 200 persons were imprisoned and several more detained. the police carried ouut raids in nearby villages to trace the culprits.


in august 1930, f. j. lowman, inspector general of police was assassinated in dacca. his colleague eric hendorson was wounded by benoy bose. he evaded arrest.

in calcutta, an attempt was made on charles teggart, police commissioner calcutta. the attacker dinesh majumdar was arrested but escaped from jail.

in december 1930, benoy bose, badal and dinesh gupta stormed writers building, the government headquarters and killed simpson, inspector general of prisons. benoy bose and badal committed suicide on the spot but dinesh was arrested and executed after a year.

james peddie, district magiatrate of midnapore, was assassinated in april 1931. twenty suspects were arrested but no one was there to identify the culprit. the gun was never found.

inspector khan bahadur ashanullah who had persocuted chaiitagong armour raid accused, was killed in august 1931.

in march 1932, r. douglas, district magistrate of midnapore was killed. the assissainator got away but his colleague bhattacharya was tried and executed. in fact his gun had got jammed and he could not fire but that did not save him from execution.

on december 14, 1931, two high school girls shanti ghosh and suniti chaudhary assassinated the district magistrate of tippera c. g. b. stevens.

on 6th feburary 1932, bina das, an 18 years old, shot at the governor of bengal stanley jackson but he escaped.

there was an attack on l. g. durno, district magiastrate of dacca in october 1931. he escaped but lost sight in one eye. a bullet was lodged in his mouth. although 40 pesons were arrested but no one was charged.

in june 1932, police inspector babu k prasad was killed in his home.

in august 1932, his boss c c g grossby had a bomb thrown in his car though he escaped unhurt.

in september 1932, europen club at pahartali was attacked under the leadership of pritilata waddedar wearing a men's dress. she committed suicide when injured by a gun shot.

in september 1933, b e j burge, district magistrate of midnapore was killed while playing football with local youth.

in october 1933, hili railway station was attacked. two men were killed and four wounded. the attackers took away rs. 5000 from the station.

in january 1934, four youth threw bombs on the cricket pitch but they did not go off. two of the boys were killed in firing by the guards.

in april 1934 an attempt was made in darjeeling on anderson, governor of bengal, the revolvers of the attackers were jammed and anderson escaped unhurt. spectator miss b. thornton was wounded.



two unusual orders of the period may be mentioned

hindu boys between the age of 12 and 25 or 30 reading in schools/ colleges were put under curfew from sunset till sunrise. they were forbidden the use of bicycles.

no person shall wear the garb of any community or sex other than his own, unless he habitually does so in the normal course of his profession or occupation.


so much for आज़ादी चरखे से आई


(note – wedded to the idea of आज़ादी चरखे से आई the government did not prepare an anthology of these political activites. if you search for google with the words "road to independence india", you will get 24 references. on 16 of them gandhi is on the cover page. five have the tricolour.

a group of eminent historians, including r c majumdar, was formed by the government in 1950 to gather information and construct a narrative. according to rc majumdar, he submitted a draft of the first volume to the board, it was approved, but then mysteriously, the approval was withdrawn and the board of historians was disbanded. (page 247 – gentlemanly terrorists – durbha ghosh – cambridge university press – 2017)

nevertheless various accounts by many authors are available, including the autobiographies. 'political trouble in india' was written by h. w. hale as a precursor of rowlatt act and reprinted in 1974 by jamna das akhtar. trailokya nath chattejee, who spent ten years in andamans jail, and continued to be associated with the revolutionaries, has written an autobiography.

the above narrtive concerns bengal but there is no doubt that there were many such freedom fighters in punjab, maharashtra and elsewhere. may be there will be a narrative for them some other time).


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