Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khudiram_Bose#/media/File:Khudiram_Bose_1905_cropped.jpg
India has a long and storied history. Several Indians have laid down their lives of their nation and several more have helped in the development of a strong economy. Every single resident of the country has a role to play in the formation of India’s future. But as we move forward to embrace development and technological advancement, it is becoming easier for people to forget those who once fought for India’s freedom.
Most young boys and girls are not even aware of India’s struggle against British Raj. This is why, Temple of India, dedicates the month of August to the revolutionaries who fought for India’s independence. Since there are several revolutionaries who played a role in India’s fight for freedom, we will concentrate on the revolutionaries of Bengal which was the nerve centre of British rule in India until 1911 when the capital of British India moved from Kolkata to Delhi.
Even after Kolkata lost its title as India’s capital; it continued to be the hub of revolution and rebellion against the British. We begin with the life and works of one of the youngest revolutionaries who was hanged to death at the early age of 18 – Khudiram Bose.
Born on December 3, 1889, Khudiram Bose was sold by his parents to his eldest sister, Apurupa Roy, for three fists full of rice. This ritual was a way of averting an early death of the child because his parents had already lost two sons to premature death. He was six when he lost his mother. A year later, young Khudiram lost his father too. Having lost both parents, his eldest sister decided to raise Bose at her house in Hatgachha village under Daspur police station.
Bose was born at a time when India was blazing with the spirit of nationalism. The Bengali renaissance had already helped in breathing new life into Bengal by encouraging Bengali art and culture. As a result, Khudiram Bose was the product of his times. When Sri Aurobindo visited the village of Medinipur in 1902 to inspire young people of the community to join India’s struggle for independence, and Sister Nivedita in 1903, reinforced the same through her public lectures, Khudiram Bose decided to walk the path of a revolutionary and stand up against the burgeoning British Raj.
His first step into the world of radical free-thinkers was through the Anushilan Samiti in Calcutta. His first arrest took place at the age of 15 when he was caught distributing pamphlets that spoke against British rule in India. A year later, Bose started actively participating in armed revolution by planting bombs near police stations in Bengal. He was arrested once again.
Bose however, was a determined young man. After his release, he continued to participate in acts which terrorised the British in India. In April 1908, Bose, along with another young revolutionary named Prafulla Chaki, were assigned the task of bombing the carriage of Kingsford, a British official who was disliked by the revolutionaries because, as a Chief magistrate of the Calcutta Presidency, he had passed several cruel and harsh sentences on young political workers.
After carefully analysing Kingsford’s movements for three weeks, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose decided to bomb Kingsford’s carriage on the night of April 30, 1908 when Kingsford would return after playing bridge at the club. The two revolutionaries did not realize that Kingsford carriage was identical to the carriage of Mrs. And Miss Kennedy who were also returning from the club.
Kingsford’s carriage was behind the carriage carrying the two women. Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose mistook the first carriage to be the one carrying Kingsford and bombed it. While Miss Kennedy died within an hour, Mrs. Kennedy succumbed to her injuries in the morning of May 2, 1908.
But before that, in the morning of May 1, Khudiram Bose was arrested by two armed constables at a railway station called Waini (present day, Khudiram Bose Pusa Station). The same day, Prafulla Chaki killed himself when he was surrounded by several policemen at the Mokamghat railway station from where he was supposed to take a train to Howrah.
When young Khudiram Bose, was brought to the Muzaffarpur station on May 1, several residents of the town came to see the 18 year old boy who had chosen the path of revolution. When he was taken before the magistrate, Mr. Woodman to give a declaration or a statement, Bose took entire responsibility for the bombing in a bid to save his partner, Prafulla Chaki. But after his statement was recorded, Prafulla Chaki’s dead body was brought to the same police station.
On May 23, 1908, the sessions court judge sentenced Khudiram Bose to death. The young revolutionary had by now garnered the attention of people all over the country. Kalidas Basu, Upendranath Sen and Kshetranath Bandopadhyay were renowned lawyers of the time who took up Khudiram’s defense for no fees. While Bose had accepted his fate, the lawyers encouraged him to take the case to the High Court so that the punishment can be changed to life imprisonment and he could later serve his country. Lawyer Narendra Kumar Basu fought the case for Khudiram Bose in the High Court. The two British judges of the High Court confirmed the death sentence and dismissed the appeal for life imprisonment. A note of appeal was sent to the Governor General in a bid to save the young revolutionary’s life but to no avail.
He was executed by being hanged to death on August 11, 1908. A carriage carrying his body went throughout the town in a funeral procession where people threw flowers on the young martyr’s body. Even though he died at a young age, Khudiram Bose had achieved much more and his short life became a lesson in history for all those who thought that India wasn’t ready for independence.