Thursday, 16 February 2017

Basanta Biswas who tried to assasinate Lord Charles Hardinge - British India

Indian freedom fighter Basanta Biswas, en.wikipedia.org
During the freedom struggle against the British in the 1800s and 1900s, a lot of young people were forced to take to violence by way of killing the British officials in India to get the attention of the higher-ups in London Mention may be made of Bhagat Singh of Punjab, Vanchi Nathan of South Tamil Nadu and Basanta Biswas of Bengal. They lost their precious lives in their prime of youth so that India could be freed from the treacherous British rule. Their names are etched in the annals of Indian History as martyrs.

Basanta Kumar Biswas born on 6 February 1895 at Poragacha in Nadia district of West Bengal, came from a family of freedom fighter. His parents were  Matilal and Kunjabala Biswas. Digamabar Biswas, played an active role in the Indigo revolt (or Nilbidroha) and later with freedom fighter Manmathnath Biswas. In the nearby village Madhavpur along with his cousin Manmathnath Biswas, Basanta had his early schooling at M. I. School that was established by a social reformer and freedom fighter Gagan Chadra Biswas. While at  Muragacha school in 1906, he came under the influence of  Khirodh Chandra Ganguly, the principal of that school. At a young age, because of his exposure to the teachings of the school principal, he understood how important it was for a man to live with dignity and freedom without irons on his legs. Freedom is fundamental to every man's life. Keenly interested in making his share of contribution to the freedom struggle, he got a chance to work with  Rash Behari Bose and took training in handling arms and bombs. Besides, he gained the appreciation and encouragement of Rash Behari Bose. It is quite true that Biswas was initiated into revolutionary movement by Jugantar leaders Amarendra Nath Chattopadhyaya, in addition to, Rash Behari Bose. 

Driven by patriotic zeal, Samanta was keen to do something 
worth his name that would attract the attention of the British administrators back in England as he was told that the killing of the British officials was a way to get the attention of the crown. This notion was further confirmed by one of the accused at a trial in 1914. He explained, “to awaken the masses, who are wrapped in sleep and under a foreign yoke.” (London Times, June 24, 1914).
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Vicwroy of India. Lord Charles Harding. Encyclopedia Britannica
Winifred Selina Sturt Hardinge (1868-1914). Alamy
 
Lord Charles Hardinge KG, GCB (20 June 1858 – 2 August 1944) was a British diplomat and statesman who served as Viceroy of India from 1910–16.  Disguised as a woman, on 23 December 1912 Biswas, was assigned to target some other British official. He, in a hurry, lobbed a bomb that fell on a carriageway.  Lord Charles Hardinge, who was in the Howdah with his wife on an elephant during a procession at Chandni Chawak, Delhi, was lucky, he survived;  his Mahut was killed. Lord Hardinge escaped with lacerations caused by shrapnel and lady Hardinge was unscathed.
Throwing of Bomb at Hardinge, www.executedtoday.com
The Government scooped the areas in around Delhi for a few months and but found no clue as to who hurled the bomb at the Viceroy. Biswas and his associates, in the meantime, were at large. With a fat bounty on his head,  Biswas was at last arrested on 26 February 1914 in Poragachha, Nadia. The trial, known as the Delhi-Lahore Conspiracy Case became a sensational one. It began on 23 May 1914 in Delhi and ended on 5 October 1914. Verdict: Basanta was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment and the other conspirators Amir Charid, Abadh Behari, and Balmokand were sentenced to death in the same trial. 

 Biswas' death sentence was a cooked-up one. An unfortunate fact about this sensational case was an appeal was made at Lahore High Court with the sole purpose of imposing at any cost the death penalty on Biswas. To make the criminal case stronger in favor of the Crown, authorities dug the records kept at Ambala Central Jail and tampered with the birth record of Biswas, showing that Biswas was two years older than he really was to impute legal responsibility for his offence. Based on this tampered record, the Crown won its appeal and Biswas was sentenced to death by hanging; a great victory for the Crown's prosecution. Many media reports commented that it was nothing but a  travesty of truth.

Aged twenty, Basanta Kumar Biswas was hanged on 11 May 1915 at Ambala Central Jail in Punjab and thus became one of the youngest people to be executed during the Indian revolutionary struggles in the 20th century. There is a photo of Basanta Kumar at the Museum of the Indian Parliament and there are two statues of Biswas in aTokyo park, Japan and another statue in front of Rabindra Bhawan, Krishnanagar, Nadia. Ujjal Biswas, an Indian politician belongs to the family of Basanta Biswas. 

Yet another fact that needs our attention is
Lord Charles Harding, in reality, worked hard to improve the relationship between the Crown and Indian nationalists. He raised his voice against the South African Apartheid government and had great admiration for Gandhiji. He was sympathetic to the Indian cause.
 Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basanta_Kumar_Biswas