Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Why did judge Douglas Kingsford become a target of murder by the revolutionaries in Bengal - Colonial India

Kundiram Bose. connectedtoindia.com
Patriot Khudiram Bose. Towards Freedom
Douglas Kingsford, former Chief Presidency Magistrate of Calcutta was a colonial British judicial officer. During his time Bengal was the hot bed of revolutionaries and freedom fighters, and freedom movements  were more visible in Bengal than other regions, the reason being the presence of a large number of British officials in Calcutta which was then  the capital of British India. Further, it was Bengal that was  first seized by the East India company  in an unethical  manner  under the direction of Robert Clive. The murder of the recalcitrant Nawab of Bengal  Siraj-ud-daulah was carried out at the instigation of Clive and his co-worker  James Watts.The British had been  in Bengal  since the later part of 1700s, exploiting the land, people and natural resources. Obviously, there had been an under current of hatred and abomination among the Bengalis for the British who, through wheeling and dealing, controlled a major part of India in the later period after their first and decisive victory in Bengal. Britain received vast revenue from the Indian subcontinent  which, to a large extend, improved their economy at the cost of reducing Indians to penury.  

As for Magistrate Douglas Kingsford, in his court in Calcutta he had to deal with lots of freedom fighters and revolutionaries. His judgements on Indian nationalists were not based on merit but on hate and partiality. Soon he gained notoriety for his unjust, biased and harsh judgements. When dealing with  freedom fighters and young political workers, he had no mercy for them. Nor did he care for their political aspirations to see ''Free India'' from the British control. As for the revolutionaries brought before the court, he would spell venom by giving them horrible punishment.  His inhuman, unjustified and vindictive verdicts  against the ''Swadeshi and anti-Partition activists" earned him a bad name, The People across, Bengal considered him ruthless and cruel. He did not mind  the carping remarks against him, for him he was doing his duty for the British crown and liked those natives who were for the British rule to continue in India. The local newspapers like Yugantar, Vandemataram, etc  run by natives carried lots of news  about the oppressive British rule and their high-handedness. They came down heavily on Judge Kingsford  who  never gave room for benefits of doubts when dealing with Indians.

When there was a large gathering of people before the court where Kingsford  was the presiding judge in a  sensational case against Aurobindo Ghosh, editor of Vandemataram and its publisher Bipin Chandra Pal, a young 15 year boy revolted against the police who ill-treated  the Indians there.  Judge Kingsford, without any remorse or any consideration for the age of the boy,  ordered Sushil 15 lashes. Undaunted, the courageous boy shouted  'Vande mataram' after every lash. This news appeared in the front page of every newspaper of Bengal. Upon reading the harsh treatment meted out to a  young boy, the revolutionaries could not contain their resentment and anger.  This act of violence against a minor deeply embedded in their mind and the revolutionaries  of Jugantar  group chose their target. To retaliate this unsavory incident inflicting corporal punishment on a young kid,  they decided to kill inhuman judge Kingsford.

The British govt. picked up the scent  and felt that Kingsford's life might be in danger and decided to protect the judge. He was transferred  to the town of Muzaffarpur, now in Bihar. The officials thought revolutionaries' rage would come down on account of Kinsford's transfer from Calcutta. When the revolutionaries came to know about the transfer, they decided to send efficient persons to murder the judge at his new location. 

Prafulla Kumar Chaki and  Khudiram young patriots  were chosen by the revolutionaries based in Calcutta  to get the job done.
The two young revolutionaries landed in Muzaffarapur in the third week of April 1908 with some weapons and adopted the code names 'Haren Sarkar' and 'Dinesh Roy' respectively. They decided to get used to the place before the final move.  Staying in a Dharmashala (free, charitable inn) of a Bihari zamindar, they carefully watched the daily  activities of judge Kingsford.

They noted down the the colour of the horse-cart of Kingsford that was  taking him to the court and back home and found out that   Kingsford usually did not go anywhere else other than the court. Finally,  they came to know that the judge used to leave the club for his home at 8.30 pm in the evening after playing bridge. The night time seemed to be ideal for them to escape in the  darkness of night after their mission.  To avoid bloodshed and killing of other people, hey decided to throw bomb at him  in a secluded place and not in the court. They made up their mind to do this job when the judge  was on his way from the European Club to his home or vice versa.

According to some historians on  the evening of 30 April 1908  Khudiram and Prafulla reached the European Station Club with the bomb and lay ambushed under the shade of a tree in front of the club gate. They went inside the club after the arrival of Kingsford. Both the youngsters did not realize that they had chosen the wrong place for ambushing. It is said that  Khudiram and Prafulla had  waited in front of Kingsford's house, not the European Station Club, where Kingsford and his wife were playing bridge with Mr and Mrs Kennedy.
 In the evening a security guard saw youngsters  and  told them to leave the place. They never took action against them as he thought the boys were young and  harmless. Yet another advantage was the CID officer who tailed them  in many placeds left Muffafarpur far before their arrival in this town.

Khudiram and Prafulla did throw a bomb at a carriage, but sadly, they chose the wrong target and the  carriage  was carrying Mrs Kennedy, the wife of Pringle Kennedy, a leading pleader of the Muzaffarpur Bar, and her daughter. Both women ldied in the attack, within hours of each other.  As for Kingsford, it was God's edit that this cruel man was not the victim of the bomb attack. 

Soon Khudiram was apprehended by the police and, after trial he was put death. As for Prafulla, he escaped from the scene and wandered around and, at last, shot himself to death before being caught by the police.  
 Tit-bits:
 Jugantar (English meaning New Era or more literally Transition of an Epoch) was one of the two main secret revolutionary trends operating in Bengal for Indian independence. This association, like Anushilan Samiti began functioning in the guise of suburban fitness club.  The British officials  arrested  several Jugantar members and either  hanged, or deported  them for life to the Cellular Jail set by the Raj in Andaman. Thanks to the amnesty after World War I, most of them were releasedand many of them joined Subash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army (INA) in the 1930s.
 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jugantar)

 https://www.thebetterindia.com/154131/khudiram-bose-independence-day-freedom-fighter-news/
 http://www.londoni.co/index.php/83-history-of-bangladesh/biography/khudiram-basu/502-khudiram-basu-tasked-by-yugantar-jugantar-party-to-kill-douglas-kingsford-former-chief-presidency-magistrate-of-calcutta-biography-of-muslim-and-bengali