Bagha Jatin

Bagha Jatin (Odia: ବାଘା ଯତୀନ Bāghā Jatin, Bengali: বাঘা যতীন Bāghā Jōtin, lit: Tiger Jatin) , born Jatindranath Mukherjee (Odia: ଯତୀନ୍ଦ୍ରନାଥ ମୁଖପାଧ୍ୟାୟ, Bengali: যতীন্দ্রনাথ মুখোপাধ্যায় Jotindrônāth Mukhōpaddhāē) (7 December 1879 – 10 September 1915) was an Bengali revolutionary philosopher against British rule.

He was the principal leader of the Yugantar party that was the central association of revolutionaries in Bengal. Having personally met the German Crown-Prince in Calcutta shortly before World War I, he obtained the promise of arms and ammunition from Germany; as such, he was responsible for the planned German Plot during World War I.[1]

Another of his original contributions was the indoctrination of the Indian soldiers in various regiments in favour of an insurrection.[2]

In 1925, Gandhi told Tegart that Jatin Mukherjee, generally referred to as “Bagha Jatin”, was “a divine personality”. Little did he know that Tegart had once told his colleagues that if Jatin were an Englishman, then the English people would have built his statue next to Nelson’s at Trafalgar Square. In his note to J.E. Francis of the India Office in 1926, he described Bengali revolutionaries as “the most selfless political workers in India”.[3]

Repressive measures in series were introduced to quench the rising sedition since the agitations against the Partition of Bengal in 1905. Protesting against these repressions and organising the defence of the militants under trial in the Alipore Case, Jatin issued a series of dazzling actions of daring and desperate self-sacrifice in Calcutta and in the districts “to revive the confidence of the people in the movement. These brought him into the limelight of revolutionary leadership although hardly anybody outside the innermost circle ever suspected his connection with those acts. Secrecy was absolute in those days – particularly with Jatin.”[23]

Almost contemporaneous with the anarchist gang of Bonnot well known in France, Jatin invented and introduced in India bank robbery on automobile taxi-cabs, « a new feature in revolutionary crime. » [24] Several outrages were committed : for instance, in 1908, on 2 June and 29 November; an attempt to assassinate the Lt Governor of Bengal on 7 November 1908; in 1909, on 27 February, 23 April, 16 August, 24 September and 28 October; two assassinations – of the Prosecutor Ashutosh Biswas (on 10 February 1909) and the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Samsul Alam (on 24 January 1910): both these officers had been determined to get all the accused condemned. Arrested, outwitted by the Police, Biren Datta-Gupta, the latter’s assassin, disclosed Jatin’s name as his leader.

On 25 January 1910, “with the gloom of his assassination hanging over everyone”, the Viceroy Minto declared openly : “A spirit hitherto unknown to India has come into existence (…), a spirit of anarchy and lawlessness which seeks to subvert not only British rule but the Governments of Indian chiefs…”[25] On 27 January 1910, Jatin was arrested in connection with this murder, but was released, to be immediately re-arrested along with forty-six others in connection with the Howrah-Sibpur conspiracy case, popularly known as the Howrah Gang Case. The major charge against Jatin Mukherjee and his party during the trial (1910–1911) was “conspiracy to wage war against the King-Emperor” and “tampering with the loyalty of the Indian soldiers” (mainly with the 10th Jats Regiment) posted in Fort William, and soldiers in Upper Indian Cantonments.[26] While held in Howrah jail, awaiting trial, Jatin made contact with a few fellow prisoners, prominent revolutionaries belonging to various groups operating in different parts of Bengal, who were all accused in this case. He was also informed by his emissaries abroad that very soon Germany was to declare war against England. Jatin counted heavily on this war to organise an armed uprising along with Indian soldiers in various regiments.[27]

The case failed because of lack of proper evidence thanks to Jatin’s policy of a loose decentralised organisation federating scores of regional units, as observed by F.C. Daly more than once: “The gang is a heterogeneous one, with several advisers and petty chiefs… From information we have on record we may divide the gang into four parts: (1) Gurus, (2) Influential supporters, (3) Leaders, (4) Members.”[28] J.C. Nixon’s report is more explicit : “Although a separate name and a separate individuality have been given to these various parties in this account of them, and although such a distinction was probably observed amongst the minor members, it is very clear that the bigger figures were in close communication with one another and were frequently accepted members of two or more of these samitis. It may be taken that at some time these various parties were engaged in anarchical crime independently, although in their revolutionary aims and usually in their origins they were all very closely related.”[29] Several observers pinpointed Jatin so accurately that the newly appointed Viceroy Lord Hardinge wrote more explicitly to Earl Crewe (H.M.’s Secretary of State for India): “As regards prosecution, I (…) deprecate the net being thrown so wide; as for example in the Howrah Gang Case, where 47 persons are being prosecuted, of whom only one is, I believe, the real criminal. If a concentrated effort had been made to convict this one criminal, I think it would have had a better effect than the prosecution of 46 misguided youths.”[30] On 28 May 1911, Hardinge recognised : “The 10th Jats case was part and parcel of the Howrah Gang Case; and with the failure in the latter, the Government of Bengal realised the futility of proceeding with the former… In fact, nothing could be worse, in my opinion, than the condition of Bengal and Eastern Bengal. There is practically no Government in either province…”


Retrieved from wikipedia on August 30, 2011




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