While the nation fondly remembers the sacrifices made by the likes of Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad and many others but there are still some revolutionaries who have sunk into obscurity for various reasons that also included partition. One such story is of great nationalist Surya Sen who inspired a whole generation of Bengal to jump into the freedom movement.
Sen’s heroics have also been told twice by Indian Film industry. The first was Ashutosh Gowariker’s Khele Hum Jee Jaan Se that was panned by both audience and critics and the second was Chittagong starring Manoj Bajpaee that also bombed at box office despite critical acclaim.
Born on March 22 1894 at Naopora in Chittagong, Sen was attracted towards revolutionary ideals from an early age . He joined Anushilan Samiti, a radical outfit that sought to end the British rule through violent means, during his college days in Berhampur. Later he returned to Chittagong in 1918 and worked as a teacher at a school. Sen was also associated with Indian National Congress and had also participated in Non-Coperation movement. Affectionately called Master Da by his admirers, Sen filled in the gap created by the death of Bagha Jatin ( another great revolutionary from Bengal) and gave direction to the freedom movement in Bengal.
Much before Subhash Chandra Bose founded ‘Azad Hind Fauz’, Sen formed Indian Republican Army in Chittagong in 1930, a group of around 54 disciplined armed rebels committed to end age-long repression of Britishers.
Chittagong Armoury raid
Sen was the mastermind of Chitaagong Armoury raid that caught the Britishers off guard. The original idea was to get hold of the two main armouries (Police and auxillary) in Chittagong and then destruct the Telegraph and telephone office. It was to be followed by the assassination of European guards. It would have isolated Chittagong from the rest of British India
On the night of April 18, 1930, Sen along with a group of armed revolutionaries made an audacious attack on the armoury at Chittagong in Bangladesh. After the raid, the revolutionaries assembled outside police armoury and Sen took a military salute. He hoisted the national flag and proclaimed a Provisional Revolutionary Government. Later the revolutionaries moved towards the Jalalabad hills where they were engaged in a fierce gunbattle with British troops. As many as 12 revolutionaries died while Sen and others managed to flee.
Sen was a thorn in the eye of Britishers who were were unable to trace him down. Like Chandra Shekhar Azad, Sen was a master in changing garbs. Sometimes he took up a job as a workman, a farmer, a priest, a house worker or even as a pious Muslim.
Had it not been the betrayal of one of his own, Sen could not have been captured by the Britishers. Sen was dodging the British eye at the place of one of his former accomplices, Netra Sen. However, Netra was lured by the heavy reward on Sen’s head. He informed the police and Surya was arrested in February 1933. However, it did not take long for another revolutionary to avenge this treachery, Netra was found dead at his house a few days later. For almost one year Masterda was kept in jail where he was brutally tortured by Britishers .Surya Sen embraced martyrdom on 12th of January 1934 at Chittagong Central Jail.
In his last letter to his friends, Sen wrote “Death is knocking at my door. My mind is flying away towards eternity …At such a pleasant,at such a grave,at such a solemn moment,what shall I leave behind you? Only one thing,that is my dream,a golden dream-the dream of Free India…. Never forget the 18th of April,1930, the day of the eastern Rebellion in Chittagong… Write in red letters in the core of your hearts the names of the patriots who have sacrificed their lives at the altar of India’s freedom..”