Surya Sen was a great Indian freedom fighter and is known for leading the Chittagong Armoury Raid on 18th April, 1930.

Surya Sen was a great Indian freedom fighter and is known for leading the Chittagong Armoury Raid on 18th April, 1930.

Sury

Surya Sen was a great Indian freedom fighter and is known for leading the Chittagong Armoury Raid on 18th April, 1930.

After the death of Bagha Jatin in 1915 the revolutionary movement of Bengal stopped for nearly a decade. After that, with the appearance of Surya Sen (1893-1934), a new wake in the revolutionary movement was noticed. During the Civil Disobedience Movement organized by Gandhiji, Chittagong in East Bengal became a hot bed of revolutionary movement with the effort of Surya Sen.

Surya Sen, also known as Masterda, was a prominent Bengali freedom fighter, an Indian independence activist and the chief architect of the anti-British freedom movement, centered in Chittagong, Bengal (now in Bangladesh). He laid a nationwide noncooperation movement as a revolutionary. He was, later, hanged by the British rulers following his arrest in February, 1933. The Government of India released a commemoration stamp in his memory in 1977. Bangladesh too, has done the same in 1999.

Early life

Surya Sen’s father’s name was Ramaniranjan Sen, a resident of Noapara, Chittagong. He was a teacher by profession.

In 1916, Surya Sen was invited to join the revolutionary activities by one of his teachers while he was still a student of the intermediate class in the Chittagong College and he obliged by upholding the flag of the renowned revolutionary group, ‘Anushilan Shamity’. But when he went to Behrampore College for a B.A. Course, he came to know about the ‘Jugantar’ group and became inspired with their ideas.

On returning to Chittagong in 1918, he organized Jugantar and joined the Umatara School at Chandanpore. Hence, he came to be known as ‘Masterda’ (Elder Brother). By 1923, Surya Sen spread the revolutionary organization to different parts of the Chittagong district. Aware of the limited equipment and other resources he was convinced of the need for the secret guerilla war against the colonial government. One of his successful undertakings was a robbery at the treasury office at the Bengal-Assam Railway at Chittagong on December 23, 1933 in broad daylight.

Chittagong Armoury Raid and its aftermath

Surya Sen’s major success in the anti-British revolutionary violence was the Chittagong Armoury raid on April 18, 1930.

Our ‘Master Da’ will be hanged, I know, but his name will forever be synonymous with India’s immortal freedom cry. Everyone loves him. I too love him and adore him, for he is the greatest son of chittagong.

Subsequently, he marched to the Jalalabad Hills along with his fellow revolutionaries. After the ensuing battle with the British troops on April 22nd, 1930, he escaped. Surya Sen was constantly followed by the British police and had to hide at the house of Savitri Devi, a widow at Patia. A police and military force under Captain Cameron surrounded the house on June 13th, 1932. Cameron was shot dead while ascending the staircase and Surya Sen along with Pritalata Waddader and Kalpana Dutta escaped safely.

Surya Sen was constantly in hiding, and moved from one place to another. Sometimes he used to take a job as a workman, a farmer, a milkman, a priest, a house worker or even as a pious Muslim. This is how he used to avoid being captured. Either because of money, or out of jealousy or because of both, a man named Netra Sen informed the British that Surya Sen had taken shelter at his house. As a result, the police came and captured him in February, 1933. This is how India’s supreme hero was arrested. But before Netra Sen was able to get his reward of Rs.10,000/-, he was killed by revolutionaries.

Netra Sen’s wife was all for Surya Sen and she was horrified by her husband’s deed. She felt mortified by her husband’s betrayal of Surya Sen. One evening when she was serving food to her husband, a great admirer of Surya Sen came into the house.

He was carrying a big knife, which was called a ‘Daa’ and with one stroke of the ‘Daa’, chopped off the head of Netra Sen in the presence of his wife. Then, slowly and steadily he went away. While the police arrived to investigate, they asked Netra Sen’s wife if she had seen who the murderer was. She said, “I saw with my own eyes but my heart will not permit me to tell you his name. I am sorry. I feel miserable that I was the wife of such a treacherous man, such an unholy man as Netra Sen.

My husband betrayed the great son of Chittagong. My husband betrayed the great son of Mother India. My husband cast a slur on the face of India. Therefore, I cannot tell the name of the person who took his life. He has definitely done the right thing. You can do anything with me. You can punish me, you can even kill me, but I shall never tell the name of the person who killed my husband. Our ‘Master Da’ will be hanged, I know, but his name will forever be synonymous with India’s immortal freedom cry. Everyone loves him. I too love him and adore him, for he is the greatest son of Chittagong. Tarakeshwar Dastidar, the new president of Chittagong branch of the Jugantar party, made a preparation to rescue Surya Sen from the Chittagong Jail. But the plot was revealed and consequently frustrated.

Tarakeshwar and Kalpana along with others were arrested. Special tribunals tried Sur ya Sen, Tarakeshwar Dastidar and Kalpana Duta in 1933. Surya Sen and Tarakeshwar Dastidar were hanged by the British rulers on January 12th, 1934. Before the death sentence Surya Sen was brutally tortured. It was reported that the British executioners broke all his teeth with a hammer and plucked all nails and broke all limbs and joints. He was dragged to the rope unconscious. After his death, his dead body was not given any funeral. The prison authority, it was found later, put his dead body in a metallic cage and dumped it into the Bay of Bengal.

His last letter to his friends written on January 11th, 1934, stated, “Death is knocking at my door. My mind is flying away towards eternity ...At such a pleasant, at such a grave, at such a solemn moment, what shall I leave behind for you? Only one thing, that is my dream, a golden dream-the dream of Free India.... never forget the 18th of April, 1930, the day of the eastern Rebellion in Chittagong... write in red letters in the core of your hearts the names of the patriots who have sacrificed their lives at the altar of India’s freedom.”

Memorials

The Government of Bangladesh designated the Chittagong Central Jail’s gallows as a memorial to Sen. A student resident hall at the University of Dhaka has been named after him. There is also a station on the Kolkata Metro system in West Bengal, India named after him that is called "MasterDa Surya Sen Metro Station". There is a large park in Siliguri, India called "Surya Sen Park" in the middle of it is a bust of the revolutionary hero.

By Courtesy: Tapan Nath

Edition: 15 Apr, 2016 - 14 May, 2016

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