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Revolutionary Terrorism


Revolutionary Terrorism marked a phase in Bengal politics characterised by political violence by a youthful section of the Hindu bhadralok class mainly during the first three decades of the twentieth century. The emergence of revolutionary terrorism coincided with the partition of bengal (1905) and moderate and extremist rift in the indian national congress in the 1920s.

Ideologically, the participants in the politics of violence were directly influenced by the radical thoughts of bankimchandra chattopadhyay, swami vivekandanda and aurovinda ghosh. It was in their philosophies and thoughts that the revolutionary ideas and vocabularies were rooted. Their thoughts led the youth to seek strength from the distant past in order to oust the colonial rulers from India by force. The participating youths were devoted to the cult of shakti and its associated cult of Dharmarajya Samsthapan. They took oath to kill the demons (occupying rulers) and renew the cosmic realm of Hindu civilization based on classical Brahmanical purity.

The revolutionaries were organized into two major groups:' jugantar party and dhaka anushilan samiti. Their activities were conducted with utmost secrecy. Special codes were adopted to maintain the secrecy of their operations. Those who were initiated as revolutionaries were under vow not to divulge their plans and programmes to any non-revolutionary, not even to parents. Consequently, many parents never knew at all that their school or college going children were, in fact, active members of one or other revolutionary groups.

The revolutionary terrorism had two distinct phases. In the first phase, from 1905 to 1918, the activists were more committed to the restoration of the imagined world of Dharmarajya of the Gita. During this period, no less than 210 incidents occurred in which 70 police and targeted persons and twenty-four revolutionaries were killed. During the same period 205 persons were convicted under the Indian Penal Code and Arms and Explosive Substances Acts. A large number of the convicts were transported to the Andaman, then a penal settlement of British India off the Bay of Bengal. The First World War situation made the government particularly worried about the revolutionaries. In an effort to contain their activities 1262 suspected activists were detained between 1915 and 1918. Most of them were said to have been either cadres of the Anushilan or the Jugantar.

As a result of the strong counter measures and vigilance, the revolutionary activities came to a virtual halt by 1919. Only one incident took place in 1919 and none in 1920 and 1921. Satisfied by the improved political condition and persuaded by the idea of placating the Indian public opinion in favour of constitutional reforms, the government released, under a royal pardon, all political detainees held under the Defence of India Act. The amnesty included the revolutionaries transported to the Andaman as well.

Released from detention, many of the revolutionaries abandoned the path of violence and joined the Congress nationalist movement. Some of their leaders got even responsible positions in the Congress hierarchy. Many had joined the newly launched Communist Party of India. Many of them had joined the National Volunteer Corps of subhas chandra bose. But in spite of large-scale desertions, the most committed revolutionaries began to get reorganized under the new leadership of the Jugantar Party. Jugantar and Anushilan groups were united under the joint leadership of Narendra Mohan Sen of the Anushilan and Jadugopal Mukherjee of the Jugantar party.

The Anushilan-Jugantar merger, however, failed to revive the old spirit of the revolutionary movement. Frustrated utterly by the performance of the senior leaders, the younger revolutionaries made a federation of all groups to launch a new offensive. The federation was led by Niranjan Sen Gupta of the Barisal Anushilan, Satish Chandra Pakrashi of Dhaka Anushilan, Jatin Das of the South Calcutta Anushilan and Surya Sen and Ganesh Ghosh of the Chittagong Jugantar Party. This new confederacy, labeled officially as 'neo-violence party', adopted in 1929 a programme of hitting government establishments all at a time.

Thus was started the second phase of revolutionary terrorism. Series of attacks were made on government establishments and persons from 1929 to 1933 including the most sensational chittagong armoury raid led by surya sen in 1930. Attack was launched even on the governor of Bengal, Sir Stanley Jackson, in February 1932. In 1934 came another gun attack on Governor Sir John Anderson and that was, in fact, the last major revolutionary adventure.

The new political development under the operation of the Act of 1935, the British decision to quit India and the rise of Muslim separatism had completely shattered the political edifice on which the revolutionary ideas were built. The Revolutionary Terrorism thus came to an end by 1936. [Sirajul Islam]