A young revolutionary was jailed at Midnapore Central jail. He was awaiting his death penalty. When death comes knocking many of the toughest go weak, but this young man took that chance to write a letter, addressing his mother and in a way, his mother land too. He wrote,
“If someone tortures you in front of my eyes, wouldn’t I rush and beat those who are hurting you? is my rage to protect you is righteous at that instant? Or would I start pondering whether it’s worthwhile, whether it’s dangerous, whether I should call the police or just observe to give a witness account in court later, whether I should write a fiery article in the newspaper in case justice is denied?
“Yes, the latter may look like a smart judgment and calm and collected thinking, but would you not recoil the horrific torture with a sense of Shame towards me then? Would you not think ‘why didn’t I poison this piece of garbage while breastfeeding it at birth?’”
The letter of one thousand Bengali words had captured the rebellious spirit of revolutionaries fighting for Indian independence, which was turning into an volcano in Bengal as well as the country.
This young man was, an unsung hero from the fight for freedom, Pradyot Kumar Bhattacharya.
He was a young man who had just turned nineteen, two months before writing this letter. But on the morning of 12 January 1933, the young revolutionary, Pradyot Kumar Bhattacharya, was going to be hanged.
Born in November 1913 to Bhabataran Bhattacharya and Pankajini Devi of Daspur, Midnapore, in Bengal, Pradyot was a bright student who completed his Matriculation Examination in the First Division.
He was called ‘Kochi’ with love, Not many of his family or neighbours knew that the lovely teenager with the innocent face, had signed up for a revolutionary group.
The group officially came into existence in 1928 as the “Bengal Volunteers” (or BV) under General Officer Commanding Subhash Chandra Bose. Under Major Satya Gupta, it soon joined forces with Hemchandra Ghosh’s Mukti Sangha. The combined group spread its wings into armed revolution.
It was their Midnapore wing that Pradyot was a secret member of, mentored by the stalwarts Jyotish Jowardar, a popular leader of the early Martial wing, and Dinesh Gupta, who is broadly remembered for some of his daredevil revolutionary activities, after which he was hanged at age 20.
Due to the onset of the Salt Satyagraha and the other revolutionary outbreaks, Midnapore was under serious oppression in 1930.
Magistrate James was merciless. beatings of innocent students and satyagrahis alike, and rape allegations were on him, it was then Bimal Dasgupta and Jyotijiban Ghosh, two local youngsters of BV, shot him on 7 April 1931.
But the person who cam eto replace him unleashed new horrors all over Midnapore.
Robert Douglas, was as ruthless and cruel as James. He was involved in a barbaric attack on defenceless prisoners in Hijli Detention Camp, became an immediate concern of the Bengal Volunteers.
In the brutal shootout at the detention camp (where IIT Kharagpur campus stands now) on 16 September 1931, at least 25 were severely injured, freedom fighters Santosh Kumar Mitra and Tarakeshwar Sengupta were killed. Subhash Chandra Bose led their funeral procession and Rabindranath Tagore publicly declared this incident as beyond the level of all condemnation.
When a Mr Villiers of European Merchants’ Association openly supported the said atrocities, Bimal Dasgupta attempted to assassinate him in October 1931. Although Bimal did not succeed, Villiers quit his business and left for England.
So, the BV moved Douglas up on the priority list of its action squad, and two youths—Prabhanshu Shekhar Pal and Pradyot Kumar Bhattacharya—were nominated for the mission.
Douglas turned out to be a difficult target, he always knew of the threats on his life, and moved with maximum security.
But the revolutionaries were determined to bring him to justice.
At 5.45 p.m on 30 April 1932, when Douglas was presiding over a district board meeting, the two young guns forcibly entered the room and took some clean shots to his chest. After a few seconds of watching a dying district magistrate roll over the ground, the board members rushed out of the room, chasing the assassins.
Prabhanshu fired in the air, causing most of his pursuers to back off, and vanishing. However, Pradyot’s faulty revolver refused to shoot and scare the people on his trail. Without the advantage of a functioning weapon and losing valuable time for it, he was cornered and captured by them.
A slip was found from the pockets of a beaten and unconscious Pradyot, which stated, “This is a mild protest against the Hijli Massacre. May India be awakened by these deaths!”
Officers couldn’t break him, he was subjected to horrific tortures, some of his friends were picked up and beaten before his eyes, his elder brother was tortured into permanent insanity. But Pradyot did not give away any details of his fellow revolutionaries.
On the Douglas Murder case, the final charge sheet was framed against Pradyot alone. He was given death penalty.
He wrote many letters from Jail to his mother and friends. Contents of his invaluable letters were heavily censored by the Jail Authority. But his last letter to his mother remained intact, as it was passed in secret.
“Dearest Mother, Do not weep for me just because I’m on my way to embrace death. Tell all my brothers that my heart lives inside the incomplete work I left behind. Finishing the remaining work rather than mourning would soothe my departing soul more…”
Pradyot was bold enough and criticized, moderates mode of action towards British. He called them senile because they failed to take a firm stand against British but instead went on criticising revolutionaries as misguided, violence loving youth. Pradyot had a clear idea as to what was violence and what self defence meant. His letters reveals his displeasure towards the non violence method of approaching freedom struggle.
Pradyot was sad to say goodbye because he would not see day when his mother land would be free from clutches of British, in his lifetime. But his letters ends on a happy note—his last written words were, dear mother can your Pradyot ever die? Look around, the millions of faces, who are fighting for freedom are Pradyots smiling at you! In that way I am immortal, and mother, I will live on forever. Vande Mataram!”
Dr Sindhu Prashanth