Freedom Movement (1905-1947)

In the middle of 19th century, when patriotic movement started its pace in Medinipur, Rishi Rajnarayan Basu, revered Grand Old man of patriotism, started various reformation activities. As the Headmaster of Collegiate School(he joined this post in 1851), he influenced the young men like Gynendranath Basu, Satyendranath Basu, Pyarilal Ghosh and Hemchandra Kanungo and encouraged them in patriotism. There was a custom to set up an association or assembly to practice moderate politicsand such a trend started from the third decade of 19th century. This influence was also traced in Medinipur district. Under the leadership of Surendranath Banerjee, Indian Association was formed and its 29 branches were set up in Medinipur Sadar, Ghatal, Ramjibanpur, Tamluk, Contai, Mahisadal and other places. Medinipur district made its link with Indian Congress from the very beginning. In 1901, state level conference of Indian National Congress was held in Burdge Town at Medinipur town. Personalities of national status such as Suren Banerjee, Krishna Kumar Mitra and Janakinath Ghosal were among the assembled personalities. Kartick Mitra was the President of the Reception Committee and Khirodbehari Dutta acted as Secretary. Among these names one more name should be mentioned and he was Jogesh Chandra Roy, who joined the Congress Conference. A strong base of Nationalism and anti-Imperialism Movement was formed in Medinipur and it became more clear in the day of Banga Bhanga Andolan(Movement against Separation of Bengal). On 7th August 1905 a protest meeting was held in the Bailley Hall against this separation. Volunteer groups were formed, student stores were built for supplying indigenous items, picketing were arranged before the shops, where foreign goods were sold and meeting, road-rally, strike and rakshabandhan were also arranged in support of Bangabhanga Andolan. In this period, many ‘akhras’(gymnasium) were established in this district. Physical exercise, kusti and spinning in ‘charka’ were started. In several centres of Medinipur, educated and eminent personalities gave their patronages in favour of Swadeshi Movement. Among the zaminders, mention should be made of Jogesh Chandra Roy – zaminder of Jara and his two sons Kishorpati Roy and Satkaripati Roy; Raja Narendralal Khan of Narajole and his son Debendralal Khan, Digamber Nanda – zaminder of Mugberia, Girish Chandra Maity – zaminder of Kalagechhia and his son Jagadish Chandra Maity and Sasmals of Contai, Rakshits of Tamluk etc. Hemchandra Kanungo was one of the founders of secret assembly of Medinipur, who sold out his property and left for Paris to avail the know how of making bomb(August 1906). He retuned to his homeland and involved himself in making bomb for the Jugantar Party. The first bomb was made to kill Ramfield Fuller, who was the Lieutenant Governor of East Bengal, but his effort failed. Next time, they took attempt at killing of Andrew Fraser near Narayangarh Railway Station but it was also a failed attempt(6th December 1907). As a result of this incident, a case was started by government, which is famous as ‘Medinipur Bomar Mamla’. Hundreds of people were alleged in this case. And then Kingsford, the tyrannizing Magistrate of Muzaffarpur was targeted. As per Hemchandra’s recommendation the brave boy of Medinipur, named Kshudiram was sent to Muzaffarpur with Prafulla Chaki. But unfortunately Mrs. Kendey and Miss Kenedy were killed, instead of Kingsford(30th April 1930). Prafulla Chaki committed suicide and Kshudiram was sentenced to death by hanging (11th August 1908). With this incident, police officials started their investigation and arrested all members of their secret society. Then, the famous Alipur Conspiracy Case was started. During this time Narendranath Goswami, who became an approver, was killed by Satyen Basu and Kanailal Dutta (1st September 1908). Hemchandra Kanungo was arrested and sent to life time deportation. The First World War started on August 1914. Bagha Jatin, the renowned patriot, planned to gather ammunition from ‘Maverick’, a German ship. In this venture, Basanta Sarkar of Garbeta was given the duty of keeping the ammunitions in Chandbali. Rashbehari Basu, the great patriot, made his plan to organize terrorist activities throughout India. To build up steps in Medinipur, responsibilities was given to Basanta Sarkar, Tarapada Mukherjee, Bipin Hazra and Manu Bhattacharya etc. When non-violent non-cooperation approach was taken in the Conference of Congress at Kolkata, this was largely appreciated in Medinipur. To widen this non-violent approach, a body was formed in the state level Congress Committee. Birendranath Sasmal was elected as President firstly and Chittaranjan Das was elected President thereafter. Again Medinipur District Congress Committee was formed under his presidency and Kishorpati Roy was elected as the Secretary. Branch organizations were formed in four sub-divisions, 33 PSs and in 227 unions. Such a wide organization became very purposeful. Organizations, consciousness and movement of the mass showed success not only in the days of Non-cooperation but also in the days of disobedience and Quit India movement. In Medinipur district, action was taken to establish national vernacular schools. In this period Kalagechhia National Schools of Contai sub-division, Anantapur and Kankurda school of Tamluk sub-division were noteworthy; apart from this middle and Primary National Schools were established also in various places of this district. These schools were approved by National School Council of Jadavpur. Students and teachers of these schools tried to popularize ‘Charka’ and ‘Khaddar’. Kulapara and Durgachak of Nandigram PS, Jukhia of Bhagwanpur PS, Kadua of Ramnagar, Bishnupur of Sabong PS and Amarshi of Patashpur were the main pioneers of Khadi. ‘Shanti Committees’ (peace committee) were formed in every block to strengthen Hindu-Muslim unity. To explain the characteristics of this patriotic movement and to elucidate the relevance of students’ participation in it, a club was established named ‘Milan Mandir (1924) at Midnapore Town School, which was supported and patronized by Parimal Kumar Roy, Prafulla Tripathy, Pulinbihari Maity, Birendranath Maji, Santosh Kumar Mishra and Haripada Bhowmick. One more association was formed by the effort of these persons, Medinipur Yuva Sangha (February 1927). Raja Debendralal Khan was the President of this Yuva Sangha. In this phase, Dinesh Chandra Gupta (famous martyr) came to Medinipur and tried to expand his activities as he was a student of Midnapore College. After his staying in Medinipur, young groups tried to make contact with Bengal Volunteer, which was the cultural organization of Dinesh Gupta. In the way of time, BV Group became a powerful organization of Medinipur. Three District Magistrates were killed by this group. Almost in every part of Medinipur, preparation against Civil Disobedience was started. From 6th April in coastal area of Contai and in some places of Tamluk sub-division, programme was taken for salt production without any break. Important places were Pichhabani of Contai and Norghat of Tamluk. Volunteers from various places of Bengal gathered here to protest against this law. 56 centres opened in Contai for producing salt in unlawful way. In Tamluk sub-division, nine centres started for his purpose within May 1930. In Medinipur district, this movement built a strong base. Shiulipur of Bhagawanpur PS, Ghoramara of Mayna PS and Baroduari of Nandigram PS were directed by women. In this salt movement, a great number of women were prisoned and mention must be made of Matangini Hazra, Prababati Maity, Laxmimani Hazra, Charushila Jana, Surama Hota, Kiranbala Maity, Mayalata Das, Naribala Das, Jamunabala Devi, Subodhbata Kuiti, Indumati Bhattacharyya, Prabhabati Singha, Chikanbala Jana, Suhani Devi, Satyabati Devi, Nityalala Gol, Chinmayee Das, Nityabala Jana, Laksmirani Chatterjee and others of Tamluk sub-division. In Contai Sub-division Sindhubala Maity, Sukhadamayee Roychowdhury, Kusumkumari Mandal, Gita Bhowmick, Bhagawati Sasmal, Rajbala Sasmal, Sukhadamano Das, Prabhati Banerjee, Muktakeshi Tamli and others. In Medinipur sub-division, Charushila Goswami, Bindubala Sasmal, Nanibala Maity, Nibarani Das, Sateswari Bose, Sobhana Basu, Manorama Das, Sarajubala Das, Charushila Palit, Savitri De and others. To stop the devastating influence of this movement Govt. declared ban on those organizations who were acting in favour of disobedience (May 1930). Not only that, James Paddy, the District Magistrate, thought of dividing Medinipur in two. On 7th April 1931, Bimal Dasgupta and Jyotijivan Ghosh, killed District Magistrate, Mr. James Paddy. After this event, both of them fled to Kolkata. On 29th October 1931 Bimal Dasgupta again came to exposure, as he attempted to kill Villiers, President of European Merchants’ Association at Kolkata. He was punished with rigorous imprisonment for ten years. He could not be accused of killing Paddy for lack of evidence. On 30th April 1930, Mr. Doglas the second District Magistrate of Medinipur was killed with bullet by two young patriots, Pradyot Bhattacharyya and Pravanshu Pal in the Zilla Board Office. On 12th January 1933 Pradyot was punished by hanging in Medinipur Central Jail and Pravanshu remained anonymous or untraced. Two boys of Medinipur, Anath Bandhu Panja and Mrigen Dutta shot down Mr. Burdge, the District Magistrate, within the safe Police Line Campus. These two brave boys were gunned down by the bodyguards of Mr. Burdge. Just after this incident, a case was started against Kamakhya Ghosh, Nandadulal Singha, Sukurmar Sen, Sanatan Roy, Nirmaljiban Ghosh, Ramkrishna Roy and Brajakishor, Ramkrishna and Nirmaljiban were punished by death sentence and other accused were given lifetime imprisonment. August Movement was started with school boycott, arranging meeting or gathering for communicating the object and to form volunteer groups. As for example, in Tamluk sub-division, Bidyut Bahini was formed with selected volunteers. A bulletin was published named ‘Biplabi’ which started on 24th September 1942. In a confidential meeting it was decided that on 29th September offices, courts, police stations and other official sites will be attacked as a whole. ‘Samar Parishads’ (Combat group) were formed in various sub-divisions of Medinipur. On 28th September 1942 in the night, thousands of volunteers cut off the connectors of the main road. Telegraph and telephone lines were disconnected and transport system was disrupted. When Tamluk police stations were attacked, the Old Grand Lady Matangini Hazra of 73 years was shot dead with ten other protesters. In Mahisadal 13 protesters were killed and in Nandigram, they were five in number. ‘Tamralipta Jatiya Sarkar’ was formed in Tamluk and Contai Sub-divisions. Satish Chandra Samanta was the ‘Sarbadhinayak’(Chief), Ajay Kumar Mukhopadhyay was the Finance Secretary and Sushil Kumar Dhara was Home Secretary. This ‘Jatiya Sarkar’ stayed for a long time, from 17th December 1942 to 1st September 1944. They surrendered on 1st September 1944 after receiving an order from Mahatma Gandhi. In the end of 1938, Communist activities started after the formation of leftist study circle and Students’ Federation. From 1939 to 1941, branches were set up in Medinipur town, Kharagpur, Mahisadal, Nandigram, Lakhya, Mohammadpur and Kalagechia of Tamluk Sub-division, Anandapur in Keshpur PS and in Kalora of Daspur PS. In 1938, activities of Kishan Sabha started in this district. Bhupal Panda, Saroj Roy, Mohini Mondal and Deben Das contributed their roles in this phase. In Tamluk and Ghatal sub-divisions, Tebhaga Movement took their militant faces. It was in Nandigram, Mahisadal, Sutahata, Panskura PS that agitation took place between the members of Krishak Sabha in one side and zotdar(land owner) and police on the other side. On 27th February 1947, 10th Session of Pradeshik Krishak Sabha was held in Panchkhuri. This session was presided by Krishnabinod Roy. But Tebhaga Movement was waning after the arrest of their leaders and their concealment. According to a report of Bangiya Pradeshik Krishan Sabha, among the 3119 prisoners of Tebhaga 200 members were from Medinipur district. Finally, on 15th August, 1947, Medinipur celebrated with the rest of the country with the dawn of a new era.