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Modern History: The Chittagong Uprising
                                                                                                    April 19, 2017

Chittagong RAID

Chief architect of the uprising

Masterda Surjya Sen, the Chief architect of the uprising was a teacher by profession. His nickname Masterda means ‘teacher brother’.
Surjya Sen’s plan was to capture Chittagong’s two main armouries and take down the communications and railway lines.His plan also included assassinating the members of the European Club – military and government officials who were responsible for siding with the British to maintain the Raj.

Keypeople  involved in the Uprising.
Tarakeswar Dastidar, the new president of the Chittagong Branch Jugantar Party, who made an unsuccessful attempt to rescue Masterda from the Chittagong Jail was also hanged alongside his friend.
Anant Singh
He was one of the major participants in the looting of the Chittagong Armoury. He was in school when he impressed Surjya Sen with his courage, valour, wit, intellect and devotion toward his cause.
Nirmal Sen
One of Surjya’s closest friends, Nirmal was a passionate revolutionary who had already been sent to jail once prior to the Chittagong attack.
Pritilata Waddedar
In 1932, Surjya assigned the Bengali revolutionary to lead a team of 12 men for an attack on the Pahartali European Club, which bore the sign ‘Dogs and Indians not allowed’. The team was instructed to carry cyanide in case they were caught. The raid was successful but Pritilata, who was dressed as a man was trapped and committed suicide.
Kalpana Datta
In 1931 Surjya entrusted her with Pritilata Waddedar to attack the European Club in Chittagong. A week before the attack, she was arrested during the reconnaissance of the area. She went underground after release on bail. On February 17, 1933, the police encircled their hiding place and Surjya Sen was arrested, but Kalpana was able to escape.
Surjya Sen
He was a Bengali freedom fighter, activist and the chief architect of the anti-British freedom movement in Chittagong. By 1923 he spread the revolutionary organisation in different parts of Chittagong. Aware of the limited equipment and other resources of the freedom fighters, he was convinced of the need for secret Guerrilla warfare against the colonial government. One of his early successful undertakings was a broad day robbery at the treasury office of the Assam-Bengal Railway at Chittagong on December 23, 1923. He was arrested in February 1933 and was hanged on January 12, 1934.
Lokenath Bal
Sophisticated and suave, he was often mistaken for an Englishman and that is what he used to his advantage on the fateful night of April 18, as he infiltrated the British Cantonment posing as a British officer.
Ambika Chakroborty
The most senior and experienced of the group, Ambika was responsible for finance and procurement.
Ganesh Ghosh
This Bengali revolutionary and politician participated in the Chittagong armoury raid in 1930. After the trial, he was deported to the Cellular Jail in Port Blair in 1932. After independence, he became a leader of the Communist Party of India

Books written on the uprising
Do and Die: The Chittagong Uprising: 1930-34 by Manini Chatterjee

The Scenario
·        All Six original leaders of the Chittagong Uprising - Surjya Sen, Nirmal Chandra Sen, Lokenath Bal, Ambika Chakrabarti, Ananta Singh and Ganesh Ghos h, were participants in the Congress-led Civil Disobedience movement launched in 1919.
·         They were bitterly disappointed by Gandhi's decision to call off the movement in 1922 in the wake of the Chauri Chaura incident. It was as members of the District Cong ress Committee and other mass fronts of the Congress that they planned and trained for the armed attack on the Chittagong armoury, police headquarters and European club on April 18, 1930, an attack they hoped would yield them a sufficiently large quantity of arms and ammunition. They hoped it would be the prelude to a general uprising. They built up an 'army' amongst teenage recruits who were given physical training in physical training clubs, and secret training in arms under cover - a parallel activity which the district administration did not get wise to.

The scene explained by someone from their time

Surya Sen And Chittagong Uprising holding the pen in my hand to write on the Chittagong Uprising, my mind invariably goes back to a fraction of a second when I saw the leader in flesh and blood. I can't help narrating it.
There was a Provincial Conference at my native place Barisal in 1930. A few top revolutionaries were in a conclave in the corner of a room, separated by a cloth curtain. I was the 'gate-keeper' and asked the name of any new arrival and whispered inside.
There appeared a simple looking, frail-bodied person with a broad forehead. I asked his name. 'Surya Sen' was the simple word uttered. I communicated it inside. All rushed out to receive the architect of the Uprising in East India. My hats are off to him in all reverence. Now to the actual raid. Surya Sen and his 64 comrades got busy collecting arms. As a consequence of untiring efforts of six months they could collect only 14 rifles. Training in these arms was imparted to young men, including six leaders. Their inspiring catch-words were: "organisation audacity and death". They also took all precaution against any traitor getting into the group.
10 p.m. of April 18, 1930, was the zero hour. The date coincided with the Easter Rebellion of the Irish struggle for freedom, also from the British rule.
The hour to strike actually came. The A.F.I. Armoury was attacked by a Group under the leadership of Nirmal Sen and Loknath Baul, the Police Armoury by Ganesh Gosh and Anant Singh's group, the European Club under Naresh Ray's leadership, the Telephone and Telegraph Offices were destroyed five minutes earlier by a band of young men under Ambika Chakraborty; eight young men in two batches of four each were sent a day earlier to places near Dhoom and Langal Ghat stations to damage the railway track so that Chittagong would be cut off from the rest of the country and no reinforcement could easily reach. The wireless system in the ship at the Port were put out of order. After the execution of the Plan, all the participants assembled at the Police Lines and established the Headquarters of the Victorious Army of Revolution. Surrounded as it was on all sides by hills, the area was very suitable for sustained defensive action. Therefore, they would come down to the town, capture the Imperial Bank, the few shops that stocked arms and ammunition break open the jail and release the prisoners. They also appealed to the youngsters already trained in physical culture and disciplined by drill, to enroll themselves to the Hindustan Republican Army.
When the clock struck 9-55 p.m. the Telephone Office was attacked, the operator threatened at the point of pistol, the switch-beard hammered to pieces and the whole building was gutted, all in less than three minutes, 'non-violently' done, not a life was lost on either side. The Telegraph Office was similarly immobilized.
Next came the two most important targets, the two Armouries. Ganesh Gosh and Anant Singh led the attack on the Police Lines Armoury guarded by a single sentry, silently pacing up and down on patrol duty. The army uniform of the revolutionaries created a confusion in his mind and before he could realize the seriousness of the situation two bullets found their target and he fell to rise no more. The capture of the Guard Room took only a few seconds. It's 200 Sepoys ran helter-skelter for fear of life. The suddenness of the attack made the task easier. Within minutes the Armoury came under the control of the revolutionaries who collected arms and ammunition to their hearts content. Under order of the President of the Revolutionary Government, Surya Sen, clad in white Khadi, the Union Jack was burnt and the flag of Indian Independence was unfurled to the refrain of the bugle and amidst thundering cries of Bande Mataram and Inquilab Zindabad which rent the sky.
With almost a walk-over in the first round, with no casualties on their side, there was a natural feeling of relaxation among the Revolutionaries. They were shocked out of wit by the volley of Lewis Gun firing that came from the direction of Waterworks.
hough the revolutionaries knew that there was a small armoury at Double Mooring Jetty no precaution was taken to capture or neutralize it. The District Administration drew upon the source. Once attacked, the revolutionaries also started their counter-firing from their musketry, sixty four of them at a time. A few minutes of firing were sufficient to silence the enemy.

On the fourth day, 22nd April 1930, a train load of armed men arrived and surrounded Jalalabad Hill where the revolutionaries had taken shelter. There ensued one of the most unequal battles but it was historic in its heroism. The young boys of the Army of Revolution fought desperately with only Police Musketry in their hands while the well-trained battalion of the British Army was equipped with superior weapons. Loknath Baul led the action. His younger brother, the intrepid, indomitable and impetuous, Hari Gopal (Tegra), was the first victim of British bullet. A dauntless dozen laid down their lives and became immortal.
From here onwards it is all a story of getting the group split up from small to smaller units. At one time some of them sought refuge at Chandar Nagar also. As a French territory it was a safe place. But for a variety of reasons they had to leave that place and ultimately we came to the tragic story when Surya Sen himself was caught. He was carrying a reward of Rs. 10,000/- on his head. The irony is that (ultimately) when he had planned to leave the place of his hide-out of the 16th February 1933, suddenly it was surrounded by the police. The Supreme Commander of the Chittagong Saga was under chains. Along with the leader a few friends were also arrested but Kalpana Datta had escaped. She was caught three months later. In the trial that followed Surya Sen and Tarakeshwar Dastidar were awarded capital punishment. Kalpana got a lifer.
The timing of his execution and also the disposal of the dead body have been very different from the normal. Actually, a person is hanged early in the morning. Masterda was hanged at mid-night. The body is usually disposed of locally but his body was not buried in the soil of Chittagong but was carried in a destroyer to mid-sea to become food for the crocodiles. Was it not a case of extreme sadism of our 'civilised' rulers?
I can also claim to have seen Preetilata Waddedar, the first woman martyr of India, four times. She used to come to the Control Jail of Calcutta to meet a close comrade, under the shadow of gallows. I also used to go to the same place at the same time to meet Ramesh Chatterjee, my class friend, also awaiting kissing the hang-man's rope. A few months later, when Preeti became a martyr and her photo appeared in the Statesman, I was at Behrampur Detention Camp and shouted that I had seen the girl four times. What an experience. I saw the architect of the Chittagong Drama for a fraction of a second and also Preetilata, his heroic disciple.
'They flash upon my inward eye which is the bliss of solitude.'

What happened to Kalpana Dutta after Surya Sen’s death?

After her release in 1939, Kalpana graduated from Calcutta University in 1940 and became a part of the Communist Party of India. In 1946, she contested for the Bengal Legislative Assembly as a communist candidate from Chittagong but lost. Kalpana Dutta died in Calcutta on February 8, 1995
In 1943, Kalpana Dutta married Purab Chand Joshi, and had two sons :Suraj and Chand. Chand Joshi was a famous journalist who worked for Hindustan Times. He wrote a book called Bhindranwale: Myth and Reality (1985). Suraj Chand’s wife Manini (nee Chatterjee) wrote a book on the Chittagong Armory Raid: Do and Die, which is the base for Ashutosh Gowariker’s movie Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se.

Recent News
Among the armed revolutionaries was the 14-year-old Subodh Roy who like the others, was also imprisoned in Cellular Jail, Port Blair, and later released in 1940. He died on August 27, 2006.

In 1949, a Bengali movie Chattagram Astragar Lunthan was made on the Chittagong armoury raid. It was directed by Nirmal Chowdhury.

In 2010, a Hindi movie, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey was made on the Chittagong armoury raid. It was directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar, staring Abhishek Bachchan and supported by Deepika Padukone. It was a period thriller, based on the book Do and Die: The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34 by Manini Chatterjee.