On 11 August 1908, a brave Indian boy who was just 18 years old, sacrificed his last breath for the independence of the nation and emerged as pioneer for the future revolutionary uprisings against the dictatorial and blood thirsty British government. On 13th June, he was sentenced death penalty by judge Corndoff. With no fear, the young Indian boy burst into happiness and chanted Bharat Mata ki jai (Long live India). Astonished and surprised by the happiness and proud palpable in the face of young Indian boy, Judge asked – Why are you laughing ? You are sentenced to death penalty. Don’t you understand young boy ? The boy with sheer determination said, I am proud son of my motherland and blessed to sacrifice my life for the sake of my countrymen. The brave son of soil was none other than- The Great Khudiram Bose. The exceptional and remarkable bravery shown by him at the tender age of 18 earned him the sobriquet of Khudiram- The fearless boy.
Khudiram Bose was born on 11 August, 1889 in a Bengali family. He was born at Habipur in Bengal. His two brothers died immediately after birth while he survived. He survived presumably to carry further the cause of India’s Independence. The love for the nation and determination for its independence from the very childhood shows that his fate was pre-determined by the almighty- to live, survive and die for nation.
Khudiram’s childhood was not bed of roses as he lost his parents at a very young age. His mother died when he was six years old and father died one year later. He was then brought up by his elder sister, Aparupa Roy.
In 1902-1903, Sir Aurobindo Ghosh and Sister Nivedita visited Medinipur and held series of public lectures on nationalism and India’s independence movement. It was during these lectures when Khudiram learned about ill-fate of Indians under British government and feeling of nationalism griped his heart, mind and brain. Soon, he joined Anushilan Samiti and came into touch with Barindra Kumar Gosh of Calcutta. He became an active volunteer at the age of fifteen and sustained with only one life purpose- to uproot British from India. Soon, he was arrested for distributing pamphlet against British rule in India. In the very tender age of sixteen, Khudiram actively participated in the missions that targeted corrupt and cruel British officers and also planted bomb against the cruel servants of crown.
Muzaffarpur Bomb Blast
In 1908, Anushilan Samiti assigned Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki the task to assassinate District Magistrate of Calcutta Presidency Kingsford. Kingsford was hated and not liked by revolutionaries and such organisations because of the harsh and cruel punishment and long years sentences passed by him to the young revolutionaries even for minor allegations posed by British government. When Kingsford was transferred to Muzaffarpur, revolutionaries hatched conspiracy to kill him. Khudiram Bose and his partner Praffula Chaki reached Muzaffarpur. They began observing his daily routine and kept a close eye on his activities for couple of days. They recorded his lifestyle and hatched a plan accordingly to kill him.
On 30 April 1908, they smashed a bomb in the carriage outside the European club. Kingsford was expected to be in the carriage. Unfortunately, the carriage carried the daughter and wife of Barrister Pingle Kennedy, a pleader at Muzaffapur Bar. The event took place in evening and the news of bomb blast spread like fire. There was a massive hue and cry among British officers. The blast threatened and challenged the very roots of British crown in India. Extra force was deployed and search operations were launched in the haunt of Khudiram and Praffula. A booty of 1000 was also announced as a award for the individual who will help British officer to find the two accused.
According to Folkfare, “Khudiram walked entire night and reached Waini railway station (now know as as Khudiram Bose Puss Railway Station) after a hefty journey of 25 miles. Exhausted, tired and thirsty Khudiram went to a tea stall in the want of water but there he confronted two armed police constable Fateh Singh and Shev Prasad Singh. They saw him with suspicious eyes because of his dusty feet and torn clothes. Their suspicion became more strong after brief questions and thus detained him. He jostled and scuffled to escape but met no success. Meanwhile, Praffula Chaki who also underwent a long journey was suspected because of his exhausted and deteriorating conditions. He shot dead himself when he was left with single bullet.
On 1 May, Khudiram Bose was brought from station to Muzaffarpur town. The entire town gathered to look the brave teenage boy surrounded by a large number of British policemen. He was took to the house of district Magistrate Mr. Woodman.
The English daily, The Statesman, wrote on the following day, May 2, 1908
The Railway station was crowded to see a mere boy of 18 or 19 years old, who looked quite determined. He came out of a first-class compartment and walked all the way to the phaeton, kept for him outside, like a cheerful boy who knows no anxiety…..on taking his seat the boy lustily cried ‘Vandemataram’.
He was arrested but his will and determination remained still and free. During introspection, he took the responsibility of blast on his shoulder without taking the name of his partner Praffula and other associates. The fearless Khudiram was not aware of Praffula’s sacrifice. It was after his statement was recorded, Praffula’s body was brought for identification.
Court Trial and adamant Bose.
The historical trial begun on 21 May 1908. Besides judge Corndoff, two Indians Nathuni Prasad and Janak Prasad were appointed as jury. Mr. Mannuk and Vinodabhai Majumdar prosecutor from British government while Kalidas Basu, Upinder Nath Sen took up Khudiram case. Kulkamal Sen, Nagendar lal and Satish Chandar Chakrovarty late joined in defence of Khudiram without any fee in the service of nation. After hefty and aggressive arguments and counter arguments on 13th June, judge pronounced him death sentence. The spontaneous response was smile on his face.
Legally, Khudiram Bose had 7 days to appeal in high court for mercy but the brave son of Bharat bluntly refused to seek any mercy plea and happily accepted capital punishment. 11 August was chosen to hang the teenager boy and protest in his support erupted throughout the nation in general and in streets of Calcutta in particular. Each and every house of Calcutta was gripped with sorrow and sadness. On 11 August, a crowd of thousands gathered in the regions around the jail. With numb eyes and heavy heart people assembled to pay last tribute to their hero Khudiram- The young martyr who died with smile on his face.
The Amrit Bazar Patrika carried the story of the hanging the next day, under the headline
“Khudiram’s End: Died cheerful and smiling”
“Khudiram’s execution took place at 6 a.m. this morning. He walked to the gallows firmly and cheerfully and even smiled when the cap was drawn over his head.”
An established British newspaper, The Empire, wrote:
“Khudiram Bose was executed this morning…It is alleged that he mounted the scaffold with his body erect. He was cheerful and smiling.”
Unfortunately, one of the earliest and youngest Indian martyr Khudiram and his courageous tale remained missing from Indian textbooks. When I learned about his extra-ordinary love for country and countrymen that too at the tender age of 18, goosebumps were visible at my skin. I inquired from friends, scholars and learned personalities around me about him, very few were familiar with his life story. Saddened and Shocked to know that in a society where heroes like Khudiram should be revered as ideal and forerunner but contrary to that our generation is unlearned about their sacrifice.
Amullaya is a 1st year student in Delhi University's Zakir Hussain College. He hails from Jammu and Kashmir. His great grandfather was martyred on 11th November 1947 by the Kabaili Forces and rebels from Maharaja Hari Singh Army. A patriot, Avid reader and a budding writer, he has a firm grip on the issues related to Jammu and Kashmir.