We conducted a writing competition on the occasion of Republic Day 2022 and asked our participants to pen down their thoughts and opinions on chosen topics. Here are the entries that won our hearts.
Written By: Saurajit Sinha, MBA(IB), Batch of 2020-22, IIFT Delhi
I am a big-time web series aficionado and was catching up on the crime thriller series Abhay 2 on ZEE5 last year. In one of the scenes, as the police officer was interrogating a criminal, the wanted criminal board was well on display and one image caught my attention. A sketch of the person who fought the British regime was put up as a sketch of wanted criminal on the police criminal board in the series. This showed the sheer ignorance of the filmmaker about our freedom fighters. The fact that the director is Ken Ghosh, a Bengali, makes this goof up even more shameful and unpardonable. The image used was of Khudiram Bose, one of the youngest freedom fighters who sacrificed his life at the tender age of 18. There might not have been any malintent but that Khudiram Bose doesn’t get the recognition that he rightfully deserves was made pretty stark by this blunder. What apparently made this even more shameful is the hurried apology stating that they didn’t intend to harm the sentiments of any “community”. This shows that the series makers presumed that only the “Bengali community” was hurt by this goof up little realizing that Khudiram Bose gave the supreme sacrifice not for Bengal but for motherland India. In this article let me elaborate on the brave fighter’s life, his brave deeds and how he embraced death with a smile.
Khudiram Bose was born on 3rd December 1889 in Habibpur Village in Midnapore District of West Bengal to Tehsildar Trailokyanath Bose and his religious wife Lakshmipriya Devi. Khudiram’s mother inculcated great sense of karma in him by reciting religious scriptures right from his infancy. However, he lost his mother at a tender age of six and his father just a year later. He was thus brought up by his sister and brother-in-law. Khudiram did his early schooling from Hamilton High school where for the first time he got exposure to public speeches given by Sri Aurobindo, the founder of Anushilan Samiti, an organization that promoted armed resistance and this acted as Khudiram’s first impetus to join the freedom struggle. Eventually Khudiram joined the freedom movement at the young age of fifteen. This highlights the stark difference between his mindset and that of most other youths at that time. While most wanted to complete their studies and enjoy life, Khudiram was ready to fight the British Goliath and embrace death if needed. Khudiram’s valour not only shined through his acts but also through his words. Once Khudiram was down with high fever and a quack was called in. The quack said that some spirit has gained control over his body and he can shoo them off. Khudiram replied humorously, “Eto jodi bhoot nabanor shokh thake, amader mathar upor theke shada bhoot k nabate parbe?” which when roughly translated in English stands as, “You seem to have great skills in shooing away ghosts and spirits. Can you help Indians get rid of the white ghosts that have possessed us?” in an apparent reference to the white Britishers.
Initially Khudiram was mostly involved in distributing anti-British radical pamphlets like Jugantor which was the mouthpiece of Anushilan Samiti and blatantly encouraged taking up of arms against the foreign rulers. He also got involved in planting of bombs around police stations and government buildings as a mark of strong resistance against the British Raj. He was arrested on and off for such activities but was not punished severely till then. It was at this point that a cruel man named Douglas Kingsford took over as the Chief magistrate of Presidency Court of Alipore. He was infamous for bringing serious charges against the publishers of Jugantor and bringing them under financial distress. He was ruthless and merciless in handing out disproportionately harsh and unjust punishments to young political workers. He even ordered public whipping of those people who participated in peaceful freedom movement. He clearly treated Indians as lesser humans and soon he featured on Anushilan Samiti’s hit list of next target.
After the failed first attempt by Hem Chandra Das, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki were appointed to neutralize Kingsford. In April 1908, the duo went to Muzaffarpur to shadow Kingsford and prepare a compendious list of the places he visited and the timings. However, the CID team of Kolkata Police had gathered intelligence that Kingsford life was in danger and forwarded the concern to Armstrong, the then Superintendent of Police, Muzaffarpur. In order to hide their identities, Prafulla Chaki adopted the nom-de-guerre “Dinesh Chandra Roy” and Khudiram became “Haren Sarkar”. It might be interesting to know that this young duo was so cautious and thus successful in hiding their actual identities that the CID team sent to Muzaffarpur from Kolkata returned with inference that the duo didn’t arrive at Muzaffarpur at all.
Hours after the CID team returned, on 30th April 1908, the duo hid behind the trees ready to bomb Kingsford’s carriage. It was night time and visibility was poor. Unfortunately, on that eventful day, a similar looking carriage with wife and daughter of Pringle Kennedy, a pleader at Bar Association was passing by the same route. In a case of mistaken identity, the duo hurled bombs at the carriage and the ladies succumbed to the violent explosion. Soon the law enforcement agencies intensified the vigilance on the passengers in the trains and adjoining bus stations. Khudiram didn’t board a train and decided to walk 25 miles through the night and reached a station named Waini. Exhausted and wounded with no footwear, he asks for water from a local tea stall and his condition made two constables suspicious. He was confronted and a loaded pistol fell out of his bag which sealed his fate. He was arrested and brought to Muzaffarpur station the following day. Even the then English Daily Statesmen praised the boy’s courage in the face of arrest and prosecution as the paper said,
“The Railway station was crowded to see the boy. A mere boy of 18 or 19 years old, who looked quite determined. He came out of a first-class compartment and walked all the way to the phaeton, kept for him outside, like a cheerful boy who knows no anxiety…..on taking his seat the boy lustily cried ‘Vandemataram’ ”
On 13th June, 1908, the Sessions Court awarded death sentence to young Khudiram. Khudiram was initially very reluctant to appeal in the High Court. He valiantly said, “My death will inspire many more to join the freedom struggle and send these oppressors back to their home”. What makes Khudiram’s bravery out-of-the world is that he smiled at his death despite being so young. As the judge was pronouncing his death sentence, Khudiram was smiling which gave an impression to the judge that he might not have understood the judgement that was read out in English. On being asked the same, Khudiram cheekily replied that he not only understood the judgement in entirety but was ready to teach the judge the art of bomb-making if given the time. He eventually appealed in the High Court which upheld the judgement of the sessions court.
On 11th August 1908, Khudiram was hanged till death. It is said that he walked up to the gallows confidently with his head held high and proud smile much to the surprise of British officials and shouted Vandemataram before he was martyred. His funeral procession went through Kolkata and was full of people offering flowers to his body. Maybe he lost his life at a very young age but his indomitable spirit will continue to reside amongst us and inspire us to dedicate our lives to the service of our motherland. Let us end the article with a poem in the memory of the Braveheart.
A young lad, at the cusp of adulthood,
With a smile on his face, on the gallows he stood.
Dream of freedom was shining bright in his eyes,
As he said, “My death will inspire more countrymen to rise,
against the foreign brutal rulers plundering our country,
till our mother is freed of the shackles of slavery”
He smiled as he looked at death in the eyes,
Knowing well that death is birth in disguise.
A fighter’s death would inspire birth of many more,
Who would fight and kill with a deafening roar,
On and on till the Brits retreat
And of the bondage our mother is freed.
One of the youngest freedom fighters to make the supreme sacrifice,
Yet in our country his valor and martyrdom are little recognized.
Khudiram Bose, embed the name in your mind,
In every breath of freedom that we take, he resides.
Remember his life, his grit and unflinching courage,
Not to forget that their drops of blood shattered the slavery’s cage
As the hangman pulled the lever with a thud,
A brave fighter’s life got nipped in the bud.
But let us not forget his indomitable spirit and bravery,
His memories are worth cherishing for eternity.
About the writer
Saurajit has always enjoyed penning down his views and thoughts on topics that appeal to his heart and has posted several short stories and poems on various online reading portals over time to express his thoughts to a larger audience. Occasionally, he also publishes stories and poems on his own blog on blogger.
You can reach out to Saurajit on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/saurajit-sinha-6860641a2
You can read more of his work on: https://saurajitsinha.blogspot.com/