Biography of some famous Freedom Fighters
Trailokyanath Pradhan :
A small replica of Gandhiji :
A village on the coast of the Bay of Bengal found a small replica of a greatman born on the coast of the Arabian sea, on the other side of the country. The life of the both seemed to have been forged in the same mint, made of the same metal, might be of different sizes, of different denominations. Trailokyanath whose watch-words in life were simplicity, sacrifice, service and dedication, no doubt, took a leaf out of Gandhiji’s book.
Birth and parentage :
On the 8th day of Jaistha, 1304 (22nd May, 1902), Trailokyanath was born in a large middle-class peasant family of a small village, Teghari, in Kalandi Anchal of Ramnagar P.S.. He was the youngest of the five sons of Ganganarayan Pradhan and Saradamoyee Devi. Trailokyanath lost his mother at the age of seven and was brought up by his widow-aunt who had no child of her own.
Although Trailokyanath was a meritorious student, was placed in the 1st Division in every final examination he sat for, got scholarship at every stage, his student-life was chequered and halted because the call of country was undeniable to him. After passing the Middle English Examination, he got admission to Kanthi High School. But in 1920 he left school to join the freedom movement. Two years after he appeared at the matriculation Examination and passed in the 1st Division, obtaining highest marks in the district and getting a scholorship. Then in 1926 he passed the B. A. Examination with distinction from Presidency College. Thirst for higher education urged him to get admission to Calcutta University but the higher call of the country forced him out of the University and led him into the vortex of the freedom movement. Later, in the midst of political activities, he passed the law examination in 1934.
Political activities before independence :
It was 1930. Gandhiji called upon people to defy the Salt Law of the British. Pitchhabani, near Ramnagar, became the ‘Dandi’ of Bengal. On 6th April, the law was first violated by producing salt. Trailokyanath enlisted as a volunteer and his turn came on 14th April. As usual, he was arrested and sentenced to imprisonment for one year and a half with an extra period of three months in case of non-payment of the fine of three hundred rupees. However, after the Gandhi - Irwin pact had been signed on 4th March, 1931, the prisoners were released.
Trailokyanath had joined the Congress in 1921 and was a faithful follower of Birendranath Sasmal, the ‘uncrowned king of Medinipur’, till the latter’s death. In all the movements in Medinipur led by the Congress or Birendranath –the Civil Disobedience Movement (1922), the movement against the partition of Medinipur district (1931), the No-Tax Movement (1932), the Quit India movement (1942) – he played the role apportioned to him by the leadership.
He was a Congress volunteer through and through – a non-violent soldier of freedom-war. His uniform, from the initiation to his death, comprised ‘Dhuti’ and ‘Punjabi’ made of home-spun ‘Khaddar’; the weapons he fought with were his indomitable will-force and infinite powere of endurance ; and the only blows he was ready to deliver the the enemy were Non-coperation , Boycott and Disobedience. The local people witnessed one instance of the effect of this peaceful weapon. At Ramnagar Police Station there was a police officer named Nirode Datta. He was trigger-happy, reveled in torturing people and was also guilty of raping. Trailokyanath organized a peaceful mass-movement against him. The government was forced not only to transfer the officer but also to demote him.
A storic and a worshipper of work :
Adversity is the test of stamina and character. True character comes out when one faces personal danger and distress. The cyclonic flood of 1942 was a test to Trailokyanath’s self-control and power of endurance. Out of the twenty six members of his family, twenty one including his only son, Lalu, a three to four year old boy, his wife were swept away by the flood water. Only his daughter, Kamala, who would Later become the first woman graduate of the area, and three others survived the flood. Trailokyanath himself was spread because that fateful night he was at Dubda on some purpose. Returning home, he saw the tragedy, but he neither bent down nor broke down. From the book, ‘Swadhinata Sangramei Medinipur’ by Dr. Rasbihari Pal and Prof. Haripada Maity, one sentence may be quoted here to describe the super-human reaction of Trailokyanath (The translation is ours) : “One cannot help being astonished to think how, like one who, being inspired by the principles of the ‘ Geeta’, remains indifferent to both weal and woe, Mr. Trailokyanath, the worshipper of work, bearing in his chest the bereavement caused by the death of his near and dear ones, devoted himself to rescuing the distressed”. After taking many marooned people to safe places, he went to Kolkata, risking his life, and circulated the news of the disastrous flood that the Government was eager to keep under the wrap. In response to Trailokyanath’s appeal, the charilable organizations started relief work, and the Government, after Shyamaprasad Mukherjee had raised a strom over its apathy, followed suit, dragging its feet.
A bearer of the torch of education :
Before and after independence, at different levels of public service, Trailokyanath occupied many posts and everywhere he did his duty sincerely and efficiently. But his choicest field was education. ‘Education for all’ was motto. He laid special emphasis on primary education and the education for girls. During his long career as a member, Vice-Chairman and Chairman of Medinipur District Board of Education (Primary), he toured throughout the length and breadth of the district and founded innuonerable Primary Schools. He was also instrumental in establishing a good many high Schools, for both boys and girls, a Politechnic College, and was connected with many educational institutions at and around Kanthi. Besides, he was a member on the Managing Committee of the Prabhat Kumar College of kanthi till his death, and for some time a member of the Senate of Calcutta University. Thus he had an enormous contribution to the field of education.
An organizer of the first water :
The charming personality, amiable nature and impeccable character of Trailokyanath made him an organizer of the first water. He was outstanding among those who led the co-operative movement in the area to a roaring success. He was closely connected with the establishment of cooperative transport societies, H.C.T.S. and R.C.T.S., Contai Co-operative Bank and Balagaria Central Co-operative bank. Thanks to him, the transport societies owning several hundred buses were the largest in Asia. In addition to these, the credit of establishing some health-centers and doing a lot of construction-work goes to him. One of the distinguishing features about him was that, though many moneyed people would have loosened their purse-strings at the slightest signal from the three-time – M.L.A., he preferred to depend on small charities offered by common people.
True to the spirit of democracy :
To Trailokyanath, democracy was just the way of living. An election, to him, was not a battle to win, but a part of the game, or rather the process of collective life. Three times he won the election for an Assembly seat, three times he lost it. Apart from these, he contested many other elections some of which he won, some he lost. He always took victory and loss in his stride. With gaping mouth an eye-witness, just after counting votes in an Assembly election, saw him embrace the person to whom he had lost it and burst out in laughter. After a defeat, he used to say, “The winner will work in the capital, and I, being defeated, will work with other workers in the village – what’s the difference ? On one occasion, on the day of an election, he entered a rival camp on his way, saw a young man and told him, “Good. Do what you belive. Make your sky of faith wider”.
Great thinker :
Great men think today what people will think tomorrow. In those days, the expression ‘rain-harvesting was quite unknown. But when most of the people were anxious about draning out the rain-water as the only means of solving the recurrent flood problem of the area, Trailokyanath was against wasting rain-water in this way and urged his comrades to think out other solutions to the problem, conserving the rain-water. No bias, no prejudice blurred his vision. He tried to see things or truth in totality. One may wonder to think that he was in favour introducing Arabic at school level and teach it side by side with Sanskrit.
Trailokyanth died one Friday, at 3 a.m., on 22nd December, 1978. Those who knew him intimately deplore that his death symbolizes the end of some values. But, in fact, Time is a great destroyer and preserver. The values that Gandhiji and Trailokyanath stood for are only resting in the womb of. Time to germinate and sprout in time.
Balailal Das Mahapatra.
Lalpur and Balailal.
In Ramanagar P.S., Lalpur is a small village about 15 km. from the famous tourist spot of West Bengal, Digha, a few km. from Teghari, the native village of Trailokyanath Pradhan. Here was born Balailal Das Mahapatra, two years after Trailokyanath had appeared. Both Balailal and Trailokyanath belonged to the same race of people who live, not for themselves, but for others, for their country, and both of them were great in their own ways.
Birth and boyhood :
That was a Tuesday, 30th September, 1904 ( 13th Aswin, 1311). Balailal was born. Biharilal Das Mahapatra was his father. Both the mothers of balailal and Trailokyanath bore the name of the great Mother, Sarada Devi, and were called Saradamoyee. The boy, Balailal, was sensitive enough to imbibe the patriotic sprit, with which the air of Medinipur was charged at the time, and as he came into contact with the local revolutionaries and even some great leaders, the course of his life was destined.
On completion of the elementary education, balailal got admission to the High School at Balighai, near Egra. When he was a student of class six, the Boycott Movement started under the leadership of Birendra Nath Sasmal and Balailal joinet it. On 7th march, 1921, Kanthi National School was established as a part of the Non-Co-operation Movement, and balailal was admitted to it. Here in 1925, when he was a student of class ix, he received the 1st prize from the hand of Gandhiji, who was then on a visit to Kanthi and visited the National School. After successful completion of school education, Balailal went to Bihar and got admitted to the national College, Bihar Bidyapith, run by Dr. Rajendraprasad. Here, in 1929, he underwent a military traning given by a military officer sent by Subhash Chandra Bose.
Pre-independence political activities :
Balailal had his initiation as a political activist in his school life. But the field of his activity lay beyond the borders of the district and even of Bengal. In 1924, still a student of Kanthi National School, he participated in the Satyagraha Movement at Tarakeswar in hoogly, under Desbandu Chittaranjan Das, and in consequence was sentenced to imprisonment for three months. In 1930, during the salt Satyagraha at Pitchhabani, he was in Bihar and as a volunteer took part in the publicity campaign at Patna, Mujaffarpur, Dwarbhanga, Bhagalpur and Ara. From there he went to Kumilla, now in Bangladesh, and organized a Volunteers’ Squad at the Abhoy Asharam. In 1932, he organized and led a No-Tax (Refusal to pay tax ) movement at Sonamukhi in Bankura district and next year he had to serve a prison term of six months for that role. Then his service was called for in kolkata. There, in 1939, he organized a strike of workers, at Barabazar, for seven days, demanding a full and a half days’ off week. He worked among workers, was the compositor of then mouth-piece in hindi, ‘Shramik –Mitra’ ( Labourers’ Friend ). For writing an article against the British, he earned three months’ imprisonment. Thereafter, being expelled from Kolkata, he came back to Ramnagar and took part in the local movement.In the ‘Quit India’ movement of 1942, he haqd to play a major role in Kanthi Sub-division. When the ‘Swaraj Panchayet’ was established at Kanthi, on April 15, in 1943, he was the Home Minister of it. He was also the Commander –in-Chief of the ‘Mukti Fouz’ ( Freedom Force) under the War council of Kanthi.
Upto the time of independence, he had been so absorbed in political activities in different places and roles that he had neither the time nor the mind to think of his personal life, to think of a peaceful conjugal life. Six years after indepedence, in 1953, at the age of 49, he was persuaded by his comrades, specially Pramathanath Bandopadhyay, to marry malayarani, a bride of Pramathanath’s choice. Balailal was elected to the west Bengal Legislative Assembly from Ramnagar Constituency four times, in 1952, 1967 and 1977. He was given the offer to join the cabinet of ministers but he did not accept it, for, perhaps, he preferred to work as a volunteer.
Some remarkable features of Balailal :
Balailal was an attractive, colourful character. The tall, healthy, handsome, fair-complexioned man had a multi-dimensional personality. He was a strict disciplinarian, outwardly grave and stern, but this was only a covering to hide the undercurrent of the milk of human kindness. He was a dauntless revolutionary, a poet – sometimes seeming to beas fire-breathing as Nazrul, a musician, an artist, a good orator –all in one.
A liberal in thought and action :
Balailal was more a pragmatist than a dogmatist. He thought that there could be many ways to the goal of the Country’s freedom, its welfare and people’s wellbeing. One is only to consider which of these ways is most suitable for the people at a given time and in a given situation. He joined the Congress, took part in non-violent movement, but when Subhas Chandra Bose formed Forward Bloc in 1939, he did not take time to woo his ideas. Along with Pramathanath Bandopadhyay, Sudhir Chandra Das,, Natendranath Das and others, he formed the Forward Bloc of Kanthi.
In 1943, Jaiprakas Narayan, with whom Balailal had a contact all the time, sent a messenger to him with a message that ‘Netaji’ with his army, by air or sea, might land at Digha and march towards the mainland. After consultation with the War Council of Kanthi, it was Balailal who organized a huge Fouz ( Force) in order to receive Netaji, ensure his safe-landing and help help him in his mission. At belboni, near Digha, in the midst of the Casew-forest, behind the sand-ridge, a traning –camp was organized and thousands of volunteers were trained. On 25th September, 1945, at the camp-fire celebration, twenty thousand volunteers took part. The next day, the police and the military jointly attacked the camp and set fire to it. Eight volunteers were killed and more than sixty were wounded. After independence, Balailal again changed track and joined the Socialist Party when he thought it could lead people to the desired goal.
A Man of the people :
After the Belboni incident, the British Government declared a reward of Rs. 10,000/- for anybody who could help to get Balailal arrested. No one came forward with any information regarding his whereabouts though many people were aware of it. Once being ill, he took shelter in the house of one Prafulla Kumar Das of Tentulia. After recovery, he was to take normal diet that day. Somehow getting wind of Balailal’s presence there, the police raided the house. But before their arrival, the the watchful people smuggled him out of the house to a safe place. The police ransacked the house, interrogated and tortured many people but got no information. However, he was arrested later and kept in confinement for months.
An idealist :
Balailal was an idealist. He was wedded to idealism and poverty. The beckoning of money, power and comfortable life meant nothing to him. The four-time M.L.A. lived in a small unfinished house at Kanthi. His wife, Malayarani , had to accept the job of a primary teacher just to keep the wolf from the door. His son and daughters had to struggle hard to earn an honest livelihood.
A good orator :
Sincerity and conviction are two qualities that often go to make a good orator and Balailal possessed both. Together with these, he had a grave yet mellowed voice that remained intact even in his old age. In 1993, on the occasion of the Golden jubilee of the August Revolution, he was felicitated, along with some other, revolutionaries, on the ‘Sisir Mancha’ of Kolkata. There Balilal was the last speaker. He started his speech saying, “I am fortunate to have been born on the blood-soaked soil of medinipur.” According to one who was present in the auditorium it took three minutes for the sound of clapping to cease. The real charm lay not so much on the words but his sincerity and conviction that rang with the utterance of them.
A poet and misician :
Balailal was a poet and a musician. From his early life, he started writing poems and songs. He composed more than three hundred songs. The anthology of songs ( Book-1), published so far, contains about two hundred songs. He wrote patriotic songs, devotional songs, odes to great men and even modern songs. The thems of his songs and poems are based on the society, country, culture, the evils of fundamentalism, religious harmony, farmers’ revolt- on a wide range of subjects. Mahapatra thought that songs and poems were a very effective medium to convey the message to one’s heart, to stir up the soul, wake up people and inspire them to act. During the last phase of his life, songs were the only means for him to pass time. Even then he wrote poems on current matters, national and international; he tried to express the zeitzeist through his poems
Let the brief account of the life-long Crusader against bondage and exploitation in all forms be concluded with a song composed by him in 1942 as a marching song.
“ Hear, the freedom-trumpot is blowing,
Come, O, Come ;
Mother’s freedom to win, time is running,
Come, O , Come ;
Hey, cowards, why fleeing ?
Your blood Mother is seeking,
Come, O, Come ;
From your chest, you’re to pour out blood warm,
Come, O, Come.”