Build an army of revolutionaries

On March 22, 1894, Surya Kumar Sen was born in Chittagong, Bengal Presidency. He became an optimistic and self-sufficient young man as he grew older. He graduated from Behrampore College with a BA. One of his teachers introduced him to the principles of the Indian freedom movement while he was a student there. He immediately identified with revolutionary beliefs and joined the Anushilan Samiti, a revolutionary group.

Surya Sen joined Nandankanan National School as a teacher after completing her studies. Additionally, he deepened his involvement in India’s independence struggle during this period and joined the Indian National Congress, the country’s most prominent political organization. He was chosen to lead the Chittagong branch of the Indian National Congress in 1918.

on April 18, 1930, and most Europeans were at home. They sounded the alarm and killed the troops when they learned of the raid. Surya Sen raised the national flag, saluted the troops and declared a provisional revolutionary government as revolutionaries gathered outside the police armory.

He quickly rose to prominence as a teacher. He used to speak to his students about the importance of the independence struggle in addition to his regular teaching obligations. Together with like-minded individuals like Nirmal Sen and Ambika Chakraborty, he founded a revolutionary group.

He succeeded in bringing revolutionary ideas to many parts of the Chittagong district in the early 1920s. Considering the many difficulties they faced such as shortage of supplies and other resources, it is certain that a secret guerrilla warfare is currently needed.

He planned to attack the armory of the Police and Auxiliary Forces Armory at Chittagong in the Bengal Province of British India because he believed violence was necessary to turn the War of Independence on. To organize this operation, he collaborated with other revolutionaries like Ganesh Ghosh, Lokenath Bal, Naresh Roy, Sasanka Datta, Ardhendu Dastidar and others.

He suggested that the group assassinate members of the “European Club”, or military or government figures responsible for maintaining the British Raj in India, after seizing the two main armories in Chittagong and destroying the telegraph and telephone office. The elaborate plan also included cutting railways and communication lines to separate Chittagong from Calcutta. Sen meant by this strategy to demonstrate to others that it was possible to confront the military force of the British Empire.

On April 18, 1930, the plan was executed. The police armory was taken by a group of revolutionaries commanded by Ganesh Ghosh, while the auxiliary forces armory was taken by a second group of ten men under the leadership of Lokenath Bal. The raid, which was carried out under cover of the Republican Indian Army, Chittagong branch, involved a total of 65 people. Surya Sen, dressed in a pristine white khadi dhoti, long coat and tightly pressed Gandhi cap, saluted the soldiers, hoisted the national flag to the sound of Vande Mataram and Inquilab Zindabad, and declared a provincial revolutionary government as all the revolutionary groups gathered outside the police armoury. The revolutionaries could not locate any ammunition although they managed to cut telephone and telegraph wires and disrupt the movement of trains.

However, Good Friday was April 18, 1930, and most Europeans were at home. They sounded the alarm and killed the troops when they learned of the raid. Surya Sen raised the national flag, saluted the troops and declared a Provisional Revolutionary Government as revolutionaries gathered outside the police armoury.

The revolutionaries sought refuge in the hills of Jalalabad near Chittagong after the raid. They were besieged by thousands of soldiers on April 22, 1930, and a brutal firefight followed. 12 revolutionaries and about 80 soldiers were killed. The remaining revolutionaries were divided into small groups and dispersed to nearby villages by Surya Sen. Over the next few days, some of them were arrested or killed while others managed to flee to Calcutta. Sen himself kept a low profile and constantly changed locations. He held jobs as a farmer, milkman, priest, and other professions during this time. The other exiled revolutionaries, meanwhile, were able to patch up their disjointed group.

When Netra Sen, an insider of the group, betrayed Surya Sen and revealed his location to British authorities, the movement received a severe blow. On February 16, 1933, Surya Sen was arrested by the police. Netra Sen was murdered by one of the rebels when he became enraged.

After Sen’s imprisonment, Tarakeshwar Dastidar, another revolutionary, devised a plot to release him from Chittagong prison. But when the police found out about the scheme, they busted it, arresting everyone involved. The British executed Surya Sen and Tarekeshwar Dastidar on January 12, 1934. Before his death, he was subjected to horrific tortures. Death is at my door, it knocks. My thoughts fly away towards eternity. What will I leave behind you in such a delicious moment, in such a grave, in such a solemn moment? There is only one thing, and that is my dream – a golden dream – of a free India. Never forget April 18, 1930, the day of the Chittagong Eastern Rebellion. In his last letter to his friends before his execution, Sen urged them to “write in red characters in the heart of your hearts the names of the patriots who gave their lives on the altar of India’s freedom”. Many films about the life of this brave revolutionary have been made.

These include the Bengali film Chattagram Astragar Lunthan (1949), Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (2010)
and Chittagong’ (2012).

Thelma J. Longworth