Surya Sen – The Chittagong Hero
(March 22 1894- January 12 1934)
Birth Place: Naopara, Chittagong
On January 12, 1934, British officials entered the cell of their captured revolutionary and brutally tortured him by breaking all his teeth, limbs and joints with hammer. The torture was so cruel and painful that the revolutionary couldn’t even scream. The revolutionary was hanged unconsciously and later his dead body was put in a metallic cage and was thrown into sea. What was such fear in minds of British that they had to brutally hang the revolutionary? This revolutionary was none other than Surya Sen, the valiant Bengali revolutionary who shook the British Empire by simultaneously attacking British cantonment, European club, Telegraph office, railway line and armory in Chittagong. Through this revolt, Surya Sen had created a strong awakening in minds of Indians to lift up weapons against the tyrant British supremacy.
The martyrdom of Bagha Jatin & Khudiram Bose had inspired several bengali youngsters to plunge themselves in the freedom struggle and Surya Sen was one of them. Surya Sen’s only dream was to make his nation free from the grip of British and his first initiative was to attack the British resources and make Chittagong Independent. A teacher by profession, Surya Sen was fondly known as Masterda (teacher brother) who inspired and motivated students by narrating the stories of famous revolutionaries like Khudiram Bose. He participated in all the freedom movements and activities of Indian National Congress and highly admired the principles of Mahatma Gandhi. But his dreams were short lived. The violent Chauri Chaura Incident not only hurt Gandhiji, but also compelled him to withdraw the non co-operation movement. With the coming times, Surya Sen realized that revolutionary action is only the way to resist the British force. Such was his fervour for freedom struggle that he even sacrificed his marital happiness for cause of independence. Very less is written about the personal life of Surya Sen. His wife Pushpa Kuntala couldn’t bear his separation and breathed her last in a very young age. It is been said that Surya Sen preserved the belongings of his late wife and remembered her often. It is very sad to know that despite making so much painful sacrifices, Surya Sen never got the due and familiarity he deserved for.
The initiative and action plan of Surya Sen was supported by his fellow members and colleagues- Ganesh Ghosh, Ambika Chakravarti, Anant Singh, Lokenath Bal, Nirmal Sen and prominent women revolutionaries like Kalpana Dutta and Pritilata Waddedar. With help of bunch of teenagers, Surya Sen devised a strategy to raid the British armoury, cantonment, telegraph office, railway line and European club on the same day – 18 April 1930 and free their homeland Chittagong from British Empire .Though the raid was successful, the revolutionaries later realized that there were weapons, but no ammunition. Collecting the minimum weapons, Surya Sen and his team confronted the British army and managed to hoist the Indian Flag in police armoury. After the raid, Surya Sen and his group marched to Jalalabad Hills where they again had to face the bullets fired by the British Army. Several teenage revolutionaries lost their lives in the encounter and Tegra, the younger brother of Lokenath Bal was one of them. Later a revolutionary among the group of Surya Sen betrayed him by giving clues and information about their activities to the British. Slowly all the members were captured or killed in the encounter planned by the British. Even Pritilata Waddedar sacrificed her life during the attack on Pahartali European Club.
Pictures from Amar Chitra Katha’s comics on Surya Sen
Capture and Death Sentence: Even though Surya Sen managed to escape from the eye of British, he was fatally captured on February 1933 in Gairala Village. The death sentence to Surya Sen completely shattered the dreams of his members who had cherished a dream to free motherland from clutches of foreign supremacy. Surya Sen was hanged along with another patriot Tarakeshwar Dastidar on January 12, 1934. These were the last words Surya Sen addressed to his friends through a letter –
“Death is knocking at my door. My mind is flying away towards infinity … this is the moment to myself to embrace death as the dearest of friends. In this happy, sacred and crucial moment, what am I leaving for you all? Only one thing, my dream, a golden dream, the dream of a Free India. Dear friends, march ahead; never retrace your step. Days of servitude are receding. Freedom’s illuminating ray is visible over there. Arise and never give way to despair. Success is sure to come.”
Though his efforts didn’t succeed, his dream to free India finally came true on 15th August 1947. It is very sad to know that the effort of the Chittagong martyrs hasn’t been told to young generation in detail.
Statue of Great revolutionary and martyr – Surya Sen
Literary Adaptations: The Chittagong armoury raid was been retold into a novel called – Do or Die : The Chittagong Uprising, written by Manini Chatterjee. Even India Book House published a graphical story book on life, struggle and martyrdom of Surya Sen.
Front cover of Amar Chitra Katha issue on Surya Sen
Recently a Hindi motion picture: Khelein Hum jee jaan se, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker was based on Chittagong uprising and how Surya Sen played a pivotal role in attacking the British resources with full might. Even Bedrata Pain’s movie – Chittagong was based on Chittagong armoury raid.
The 2010 periodic thriller by Ashutosh Gowariker was based on Chittagong Uprising
Even the movie ‘Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey’ was equally inspiring and retold the legend of Surya Sen whose efforts got dispersed in pages of history. Abhishek Bachchan portrayed the role of Surya Sen with perfection and showcased the patriotic emotions with finesse. Manoj Bajpayee’s performance as Surya Sen in 2012 movie ‘Chittagong’ made ‘Masterda’ was more believable and inspiring. Though Bollywood has come up with movies on Chittagong Uprising, a full fledged biopic on ‘Masterda’ Surya Sen is yet to be made.
Through this blog post, I have taken a small, humble effort to inform you about the martyrdom of a brave son of motherland who sacrificed everything for sake of our nation’s independence. I am looking forward to write more blog posts on revolutionaries like Khudiram Bose, Veena Das, Jatin Das, Sukhdev, Babu Ghenu and make their efforts informed to the world. Hope you support me in this initiative by reading these blog posts and convey your suggestions.