A Glimpse into the Life and Works of Indian Revolutionaries – Hemchandra Kanungo

By Unknown – ক্ষুদিরাম, সারা বাংলা শহীদ ক্ষুদিরাম আত্মোৎসর্গ শতবর্ষ উদযাপন কমিটি, কলকাতা, তৃতীয় সংস্করণ, ডিসেম্বর ২০০৮, পৃষ্ঠা ৭১, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46050828

Most revolutionaries became a part of India’s struggle for independence because they were often incited by leaders like Aurobindo Ghosh, Swami Vivekanada, Barindra Kumar Ghosh and Bagha Jatin to fight for their motherland which had been put into bondage by the British. Several others were inspired by India’s past glories. But Hemchandra Kanungo had a very different ideology. He became a revolutionary because he saw it only natural for a person to live in a free country.

The secret societies running in countries like Italy and Russia which had played a crucial role in the freedom struggle, inspired Kanungo to do something similar in India. He sold his house in Calcutta and decided to travel to Europe in order to acquire technical know-how which can help him strengthen the position of secret societies in India. He was already a member of the Anushilan Samiti before he left for Europe.

Kanungo arrived in Marseilles in 1906 where he tried to contact revolutionaries or people who knew revolutionaries. After spending a few months there, he found someone who would be able to support his ambitions. He started studying chemistry in Paris where he and his friend, Pandurang Bapat, was introduced to Joseph Albert, famously known as Libertad in July 1907.

A female anarchist named Emma Goldman, helped the two, become a part of a party which was led by a Russian who chose to keep his identity a secret and was known as PhD. For most of 1907, both Kanungo and Bapat, studied several subjects and finally learnt about explosive chemistry and revolutionary organization.

He returned to India with detailed literature on the science and art of bomb-making which helped members of the Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar Group to establish bomb-making facilities in different parts of Bihar and Bengal.

One of the bombs was used by Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki to mistakenly kill two ladies in a carriage (they intended to kill Kingsford, magistrate of Muzaffarpur, who was on a similar looking carriage behind the ladies). The incident created a whir and several arrests were made in the wake of the assassination attempt. The bomb factories were shut down and Hemchandra Kanungo was arrested.

During his stay in Europe, Kanungo realized that the secret societies of Bengal like the Anushilan Samiti and the Jugantar Group was limited to the Hindus only because of the religiosity of its members and the symbols used in the society. He believed that the struggle for freedom would see more Muslims becoming a part of the secret societies if they had the chance. It is said that he had returned as an atheist from Europe. He died on April 8, 1950.

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