Super Heroes of India by Aniket Mitra
Binoy Badal Dinesh
8 Dec 1930. Calcutta Writer’s building, the administrative powerhouse of Bengal, was abuzz with daily activities. As usual there were a lot of people- British Officers, Gentry, Bengali gentlemen and clerks and the day looked like just any other day. One could hardly imagine on such an ordinary day that something extraordinary was just about to happen.
All of a sudden, the usually monotonous day was disturbed by mayhem. Three young men in their early twenties, dressed in smart European clothes, appear from nowhere and start firing a barrage of bullets from their revolvers. The target was Col. N.S Simpson, IG Prison-Calcutta, infamous for the brutal oppression of political prisoners. Col. Simpson died on spot and the three men were surrounded by British Indian Police. A brief gun battle, made famous as the ‘Gun battle in verandah’, ensued in which three police officers were injured. As the drama drew to a close and deeming it impossible to escape, one of the assailants Badal Gupta consumed Potassium Cyanide. The other two, Binoy Basu and Dinesh Gupta shot themselves. While Binoy died of the injuries after a few days, Dinesh survived only to be hanged later.
Binoy, the leader, was 22 years old; Dinesh was 20 while Badal had just turned 18. They were the members of ‘Bengal Volunteers’ an organization started by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose which aimed to “punish” the oppressive officers of the British regime in Bengal.
He was only 18 years old when he was sentenced to death for an attack and the subsequent killing of three Britishers in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, in 1908. A century has passed, yet, his name remains in the shadows. Khudiram Bose, the ‘Boy Revolutionary’ Who Died With a Smile on His Face!
Much before India won its independence in 1947, there was an attempt under the leadership of Jatin in 1915 to pull the country out of slavery by means of armed insurrection. Jatin’s efforts can also be taken as a precursor to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s armed struggle to throw British out of India.
Born in Kaya village in Kushtia district of the undivided Bengal, part of present day Bangladesh,in 1879, Jatin kindled the flame of revolution against the colonial British rule in the Indian subcontinent. Jatin envisioned a modern India – politically free, economically prosperous and spiritually progressive. His vision was far ahead of his times. The epithet ‘Bagha Jatin’ was earned by young Jatindranath Mukherjee in 1906 when he fought with a Royal Bengal tiger all alone for three hours and killed it using a dagger.
The nation was seething with discontent against the British Raj. It was at that time, Jatin’s clarion call “Amra morbo, jagat jagbe” (We shall die to awaken the nation) evoked the growing currents of India nationalism. Thousands of restless youth joined Jatin’s brand of freedom movement. “India has to rise with her own strength,” Jatin once famously declared. It was in his philosophies and thoughts that the vocabularies of revolutionary ideas were rooted. Living for a short span of 36 years, Jatin left his footprints on the sands of time. His legacy will stay on to guide the nation, nationalism and nationhood.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy
It takes a lot of courage and independent thinking to critique the system that your family and society have followed for several generations. And to shoot the arrow of critique at the bull’s eye, it also needs deep study. One such non-conformist was the father of Indian Renaissance, Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
Imagine the horror of watching someone you know perform Sati! When Ram Mohan’s elder brother passed away, he witnessed his sister-in-law perform Sati. This left Roy with a deep sense of responsibility to end this practice. Sati, as you might know, was yet another social evil practised in those times. Widows were forced to sit on the burning pyre of along with the bodies of their dead husbands. The mere description of this practice sends chills down one’s spine.
In 1830, he travelled to the United Kingdom to ensure that the Bengal Sati Regulation law, passed by Lord William Bentinck in 1829 was not overturned. In all of the reforms that Roy has been instrumental in bringing about, the abolishment of Sati is arguably one of the most prominent.
MasterDa Surja Sen
“Death is knocking at my door. My mind is flying away towards eternity …At such a pleasant, at such a grave, at such a solemn moment, what shall I leave behind you? Only one thing, that is my dream, a golden dream-the dream of Free India…. Never forget the 18th of April,1930, the day of the eastern Rebellion in Chittagong… Write in red letters in the core of your hearts the names of the patriots who have sacrificed their lives at the altar of India’s freedom.”
Before his death, Master Da was tortured in the worst possible manner, with his teeth broken, limbs broken and his unconscious body hanged. His last letter to his friends and associates spoke about his desire for a free India. The British officials entered the cell of the prisoner, and dragged him out. For the next few hours or so, the prisoner would be subjected to the worst possible torture ever. His teeth were broken, his limbs and joints were broken with a hammer. All his nails were pulled out, and his unconscious body was dragged to the gallows, where he was hanged to death. The dead body was later put in a small cage and thrown into the sea.
The prisoner who was so brutally tortured and executed was none other than Masterda Surya Sen, the Bengal revolutionary, who shook the British like none else before. He was the one who led one of the largest ever raids on the British at Chittagong, attacking their armoury, cantonment, the exclusive Europeans only club there and the telegraph office there. Never had the British witnessed such a massive assault on their institutions, in such a coordinated manner. Though the raid was suppressed and it’s perpetrators arrested, the message it had sent out to Indians was clear, take up the arms against the British rule.