The last comrades of Chittagong Uprising

‘War never ends quietly’ – Quote

History has been biased towards the revolutionaries and their daring feats for freedom struggle. India has witnessed several uprisings and Chittagong Uprising was one of them. No one knows the heroism of Surya Sen, the mastermind behind this revolt nor does anyone care to know about the young boys who gave a tough fight to British soldiers in Jalalabad hills. Several young boys were killed in that skirmish. Their only dream was to see the nation free. Joining hands with Surya Sen, the young boys had dared to defy the colonial rule by carrying out the Chittagong Armoury raid. Except Kalpana Datta, Subodh Roy and Binod Bihari Chowdhury, no one survived. These 3 young comrades probably survived to tell the forgotten story of Chittagong Uprising to the coming generation.

A rare photograph of Surya Sen fondly known as 'Masterda'
A rare photograph of Surya Sen fondly known as ‘Masterda’

The only source of information about Chittagong Uprising was the Amar Chitra Katha comics – ‘Saga of Indian revolutionaries’ which was published by India Book House in 1980’s. It was this comic book that introduced me to Surya Sen. Later in 2010; Amar Chitra Katha comics came up with a fresh new comic book on Surya Sen. As I turned the pages of the book, I came to know more Masterda and his comrades – Pritilata Waddedar, Ganesh Ghosh, Ambika Chakravarti, Anant Singh, Lokenath Bal and Kalpana Datta.

Binod Bihari Chowdhury was the last comrade who lived up to 103 years. He passed away in 2013
Binod Bihari Chowdhury was the last comrade who lived up to 103 years. He passed away in 2013

Among the 3 survivors of Chittagong Uprising, veteran comrade Binod Bihari Chowdhury (100 years old) was the last sole comrade whose narrated details on lesser known facts of Chittagong revolt were source of information for the 2010 periodic movie – Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey which was based on Surya Sen and his comrades. Sadly Binod Bihari Chowdhury passed away in 2013. His demise brought an end to the legacy of brave hearts of 1930’s Chittagong. In an interview, he mentioned about his first meeting with Masterda when he was a teenager. The young Binod in his teens was waiting in dark night at a cemetery to meet Surya Sen. After a long wait of two hours Surya Sen arrived.

Initially Surya Sen was reluctant to enrol Binod in his revolutionary group but finally agreed after seeing the zeal of Binod to participate in freedom struggle. From that moment, Binod Bihari Chowdhury fought shoulder to shoulder along Surya Sen during the Chittagong armoury raid and the bloody encounter at Jalalabad hills. Binod and other teens fought valiantly in every action, witnessing the destruction of telegraph office, raiding of armouries and disruption of railway lines.

The house of Binod Bihari Choudhry is adorned with photographs of Surya Sen and Pritilata

After the armoury raid, Surya Sen and the teenagers went into hideout and took refuge in Jalalabad hills. Unfortunately the luck was not in side of Surya Sen and his comrades. In the gun battle between Surya Sen’s comrades and the police, there was heavy casualty on Surya Sen’s side. Lots of boys lost their life in this encounter. Tegra, the young brother of Lokenath Bal was also killed in this encounter. For the ruthless British Police, these innocent teenagers were nothing but terrorists. Even Binod Bihari Chowdhury was hit in the throat. The bullet hole in Binod’s throat was causing lot of blood loss. Binod even considered ending his life with a bullet as the wound was too painful to tolerate. But Binod survived that fatal wound and lived on to 100 years to tell the story of forgotten heroes of Chittagong Uprising. For Binod Bihari Chowdhury, it seemed like yesterday when he had joined the revolutionary group of Masterda and participated in the most memorable uprising for Chittagong. If you ever visit the house of Binod Bihari Chowdhury, you will find the abode adorned with photographs of Surya Sen and Pritilata Waddedar.

In the book ‘Do and Die: Chittagong uprising’, Author Manini Chatterjee has penned down the untold story of the heroes of Chittagong armoury raid which was a tribute to their dare devilry. Manini’s mother-in-law was the famed patriot Kalpana Datta who had seen Surya Sen and Pritilata Waddedar closely. Pritilata and Kalpana were only the girls in Surya Sen’s group. According to historical sources, Surya Sen had once mentioned about his late wife ‘Pushpa Kuntala’ to Kalpana Datta. Apart from having respect for Surya Sen, Kalpana Datta had a soft, emotional corner for him which she had once expressed to him. Though Surya Sen respected the feelings of Kalpana, he never reciprocated to her affections. Surya Sen had sacrificed his marital life for sake of nation and he couldn’t dare to accept the emotions of the young Kalpana. Kalpana was Pritilata’s close friend and they both shared their ideas and feelings to each other. Pritilata had also mentioned about her love for Nirmal Sen who was one of the comrades in Masterda’s team. Kalpana was the only member who had closely interacted with Surya Sen and Pritilata.

A rare photo of young Kalpana Datta
A rare photo of young Kalpana Datta

Kalpana Datta passed away in 1995 at age of 81. Some of the memories narrated by Kalpana became a source of inspiration for Manini to pen down the book – Do and die. Even Manini’s uncle Subodh Roy was one of the teens who had participated in Chittagong armoury raid.

Photo of Subodh Roy fondly called as Jhunku
Photo of Subodh Roy fondly called as Jhunku

Fondly called ‘Jhunku’, Subodh was only 14 years old when he had joined Surya Sen in Chittagong armory raid. He was the one who had closely seen Surya Sen. Born and raised in an aristocratic family in Chittagong, Subodh chose the struggle-some path of revolution. He had once sneaked in his father’s room and stolen a .303 gun which was used later while fighting the British police in Jalalabad Hills. Jhunku was later arrested and subjected to physical torture in jail. He was later sent to Andaman to undergo a hard life of imprisonment. Subodh Roy passed away in 2006.

The 2012 movie – Chittagong was based on Subodh roy’s role in Chittagong revolt

His story was inspiration for director Bedrata Pain to make a movie on Chittagong uprising. The 2012 movie – Chittagong was based on Subodh Roy.

Though these three heroes of Chittagong revolt are no longer anymore, they were the one who had closely witness the Chittagong armory raid, a biggest uprising in history of India. Through the stories of Kalpana Datta, Subodh Roy and Binod Bihari Chowdhury, I have taken an effort to go back to bygone era where a school master named Surya Sen along with his comrades and band of boys struck a terror in hearts of British on April 18, 1930.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Zoeb says:

    A brilliant and rousing tribute to the almost-forgotten heroes among the many firebrand revolutionaries of the freedom struggle…this well-researched write-up does make everyone feel inspired and touched…well done Prashant again…

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