Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prafulla_Chaki#/media/File:Prafulla_Chaki.jpg
In our last post, we discussed the life and works of Khudiram Bose, a young revolutionary who died at the age of 18. His acts did not mark the beginning or the end of armed rebellion in India, but his courage in the face of death is known to have instigated the flames of emancipation in several Indians. When people heard of how young Khudiram Bose had given a statement that made him responsible for the mistaken killing of the two English women in a carriage; so that he could save his partner from punishment, they realized that India is ready to fight back. Sadly, what Khudiram wasn’t aware of was that his partner, Prafulla Chaki had already killed himself in order to avoid arrest.
Prafulla Chaki was born in a village in the Bogra district of Bihar on December 10, 1888. He belonged to a middle-class family. His father had died when Prafulla Chaki was an infant. After completing his praimary education in the village school, he pursued further education in Rangpur Zilla School. During this time, he joined the Bandhab Samiti which was a local organization that organized socio-cultural activities and promoted physical fitness through exercise.
When he was in class XI, Prafulla Chaki was expelled from his school for taking part in students’ demonstrations that violated the Carlyle Circular. He joined Rangpur National School where he came into contact with revolutionaries like Jitendranarayan Roy, Abinash Chakravarti and Ishan Chandra Chakravarti. Barindra Kumar Ghosh, the founder of the Jugantar Group, visited Rangpur and Prafulla Chaki decided to go with him to Calcutta.
His first assignment did not materialize. His second assignment was to partner with Khudiram Bose and kill Kingsford who was the magistrate of Muzaffarpur. The two revolutionaries took up fake names. Prafulla Chaki used the name Dinesh Chandra Roy. On the day of carrying out the assassination, a carriage carrying two ladies was mistaken as Kingsford’s carriage. Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki bombed the wrong carriage on the night of April 30, 1908 at around 8:30 pm.
After bombing the carriage, the two revolutionaries took separate routes to flee. Prafulla Chaki walked for most of the night till he reached Samastipur village where a railway staff by the name of Triguna Charan Ghosh gave him food and shelter. Ghosh also provided Prafulla Chaki with an inter class ticket for a night train that would take him to Mokama Ghat from where he could take a train to Howrah.
A sub-inspector named Nandalal Banerjee was travelling in the same train as Prafulla Chaki. Looking at Prafulla Chaki’s state, Banerjee suspected him to be one of the two revolutionaries responsible for the bombing. He engaged Prafulla Chaki in a conversation which further strengthened his doubts. Banerjee telegraphed the magistrate from Shimuraighat station. When prafulla Chaki got down at Mokam Ghat, he saw Nandalal Banerjee coming towards him with several other policemen.
Prafulla Chaki tried to flee from the station but realizing that his arrest was imminent, he killed himself by shooting two bullets in the head.
By the time his body reached the Muzaffarpur police station, Khudiram Bose had already taken the responsibility for the entire assassination attempt on himself. Khudiram Bose confirmed that the body was of Prafulla Chaki. The British still cut off Prafulla Chaki’s head from his body and sent it to Calcutta for confirmation.
The young revolutionaries of India who fought against the British and laid down their lives for their country are gradually slipping into a zone of oblivion as we celebrate more years of independence. They deserve our respect, they deserve to be known and they deserve to be remembered.
Note: In 2002, Professor Amalendu De claimed that he had seen Prafulla Chaki’s skull in the Lalbazar, criminal records room. At this time, the skull is still missing.