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Mitra, Krishna Kumar


Mitra, Krishna Kumar (1852-1936) one of the leaders of the brahma samaj and the swadeshi movement, was born in 1852 in the village of Baghil in mymensingh in a conservative Hindu kayastha family. His father, Guruprasad Mitra, was a landholder and patriot who organised an armed struggle in his village against oppressive English indigo planters. In 1881, Krishna Kumar married Lilabati Devi, fourth daughter of rajnarayan basu, according to Brahma rites.

Krishna Kumar's education began at Mymensingh's Hardinge Vernacular School. Then he entered the Zila School from where he passed the entrance examination in 1870. In 1876 he obtained the BA from the General Assembly's Institution. For some time he also studied law.

Krishna Kumar was deeply influenced by his father, a local Brahma leader, and his schoolteacher girishchandra ghosh. He was inducted into the Brahma faith in 1869. The next year he came in contact with Aghornath Gupta and was deeply influenced by his ideals. His close association with Brahma leaders made the Brahma faith his prime concern in life. He joined the Indian Association in 1876 and was made its joint secretary. In 1879 he came to Kolkata to teach at the AM Basu School and College, subsequently becoming professor of history and superintendent. He resigned from the college in 1908 when the government threatened to cancel its accreditation if he continued to be associated with the swadeshi movement.

During his college days in Kolkata, Krishna Kumar had made friends with ananda mohan bose, Herambachandra Moitra, Kalishankar Shukul and Shrinath Chanda; their influence prompted him to join the swadeshi movement. He was a close associate of surendranath banerjee and together they travelled across northern India to publicise their political ideas. In 1890 he joined the indigo cultivators' agitation. He was associated with the Indian National Congress since its birth in 1885 but in 1921 opposed Mahatma Gandhi's non-cooperation movement.

In 1883 Krishna Kumar launched a nationalist Bengali weekly, Savjibani, in cooperation with Kalishankar and others. As editor, he endeavoured to raise the latent nationalistic consciousness of the people. In his article 'Tea or Coolie's Blood', he exposed the repression of tea workers by owners of the tea gardens of Assam. His protests forced the government to provide legal protection to tea garden workers. As a journalist he will be remembered for his bold advocacy of the freedom of the press.

Krishna Kumar was opposed to the partition of Bengal (1905-1911) and used his journal to arouse public opinion against the partition. He openly advocated boycott of foreign goods and refused to accept advertisements for these goods in Sanjibani. At the provincial Congress session at Barisal in 1906, he condemned harassment by the police and police atrocities. When aurobindo ghosh was arrested in 1908 in the Maniktala bomb case, it was at the initiative of Krishna Kumar that chitta ranjan das was made defense counsel. On 10 December 1908 Krishna Kumar was detained by the British government and sent to Agra jail for his involvement in the swadeshi movement.

Krishna Kumar was a dedicated social reformer who fought against idolatry, the caste system and social prejudices. He also opposed the repression of women and formed the Nari Raksa Samity to work for their rights and protection. He advocated temperance, and strongly criticised the government plan to set up public drinking houses.

Puritanical Brahma, liberal social thinker, staunch nationalist, Krishna Kumar was an enthusiastic reformer and dedicated journalist. Apart from his writings in Sanjibani, he also wrote a number of books, among them Mahammad-Charita, Buddhadev-Charita and Bauddhadharmer Sangksipta Bibaran. [Sambaru Chandra Mohanta]