Freedom Movements at Contai
[Continued from page 1]
August Movement (1942).
On 03.09.1939,England declared war on Germany and the Second World War broke out in full swing.Many,including Subhas Chandra Bose,were in favour of taking advatage of the situation and exercising utmost pressure on the British for Freedom.But Gandhiji and Nehru did not share this view.Nehru thought,”Launching a Civil Disobedience Campaign at a time when British is engaged in life and death struggle would be an act,derogatory to India’s honour”.Gandhiji too was of an identical view.He said,”We do not seek our indepedence out of Britan’s ruin.”
Individual Disobedience & Kanthi (Contai).
However, Gandhiji prescribed individual civil disobedience and the Working Committee of Congress,at its Wardha sitting,approved of Gandhiji’s prescription.According to this plan,Vinoba Bhave inaugurated Individual Satyagraha’on 17.10.’1940.In a meeting of the Kanthi (Contai) Sub-divisional Congress,held at Kanthi (Contai) on 25.10.1940 and presided over by Bhima Charan Patra,Nikunja Bihari Maity proposed appropriate response to Gandhiji’s call.Accordingly on 09.12.1940 Nikunja behari maity, people’s representative from Kanthi (Contai ) North Assembly seat,himself courted arrest by practicing Individual Satyagraha and an imprisonment for six months,In Bhagwanpur Police Station,three leaders Bhima Charan Patra,Pitabas Das and Mrs.Dhira Das practiced individual Satyagraha.Mr. Patra was arrested and sent to jail for six months,while the other two satyagrahees were not arrested.
Flood and Role of Administration.
The river Kaliaghai,popurlarly known as Keleyghai,that originates from Badinigram in Sankrail Police Station of Jharagram Sub-division and flows down marking the border between Patashpur and Sabang police stations to assume a new name ‘Haldi’ after being wedded to Kangsabati, would be in spate every year and inundate a large area of Kanthi (Contai ) Sub-division.For two consecutive years,1940 and 1941,Keleyghai in its season overflowed its banks submerging a wide tract of land. Hundred of people lost their hearth and home,crops and livestock and had to live a wretched life.During this crisis,the Government,far from reciprocating the humanitarian gesture of the Congress that had withheld any major offensive,was mostly guided by a vindictive attitude doubling the misery of people.
The political organizations came to the rescue of the flood-affected people.Relief-Committees were formed and the work of relief and rehabilitation was done.Naturally political activities were kept in abeyance for some time.However,the constructive work, campaigning for the symbolic activities of simple living based on cottage industry,as prescribed by Gandhiji went on.Besides,different days of national importance were observed with appropriate solemnity,creating a mass awareness and a spirit of oneness.
Conditions Leading to ‘Quit –India’ Movement.
Gradually India was being drawn into the vortex of the World War.Now Gandhiji realized that the immediate end of the British rule was necessary “not only in the interest of India but also for the safety of the world and for the ending of Nazism,Facism,Militarism and other forms of imperialism and the aggression of one country over another”.
At this time,Sir Srrafford Cripps who came to India on 23rd March,1942,with a mission came out with his proposals of a sort of fractured freedom for India,indirectly supporting the demands of Muslim League for Pakistan and giving the sovereign states in India the right to remain separate.Naturally,Congress found little in them for satisfaction.
Gandhiji called the offer of Cripps, ‘a post- dated cheque on a crashing bank’.On 8th August,1942,in Bombay Conference,Congress passed the ‘Quit – India’proposal without any condition or rider.Gandhiji said,’We shall do or die.We shall either free India or die in the attempt”.
Medinipur & Kanthi (Contai).
Gandhiji’s call made ripples throughout the length and breadth of the country,caused stirs in Medinipur and inspired the people of Kanthi Sub-division to stand up almost to a man swearing to do or die.By observing ‘Hartalas’,meetings,group-discussions and processions,the leaders ensured mass participation in the ensuing movement.The P.S. Commitees and Branch – Committees were reorganized; eight thousand volunteers were enlisted ; in each of the 83 Unions at least one campaign –camp was set up .Kanthi (Contai ) was prepared to fight an unprecedented fight of non-violence.
In the meetings,processions and camps,people tured out in such a large number that the police rarely dared to make arrest or take steps.Two instances are cited here to give an idea.-
On 14.09.1942. a procession,ten thousand – strong, from six police stations of Kanthi (Contai), entered the town by eight entrance points.The doors and windows of the Govt. offices and courts were closed.The police did not dare to block the way.The authority was scared.
On 20.09.1942, a large police posse led by the Sub-divisional Police Officer and the Magistrate,Samar Sen,themselves raided a Volunteers’ camp at Gopinathpur in Bhagwanpur police station.The police arrested forty volunteers,but,as they were being taken to Kanthi (Contai),such a huge crowd encompassed them at Dhantala from all sides that the policemen grew panicky and tried to open a passage by beating people right and left injuring a volunteer from Sathpur village,Byomkesh Kamila,who succumbed to his injury a week after.Unable to shake off the ring of people,though non-violent,the police first set free twenty nine volunteers,and then five more,and managed to make good their way to Kanthi with six captives,though their motor – launch and boat were destroyed by the aggrieved people.The six arrested volunteers who were,by a judgment on 13.11 ’42, sent to prison for a term of one year each were –
i) Mrityunjoy Maity (Poet and Litterateur of Kunjapara)
ii) Gopal Chandra Bag (Dhanda)
iii) Surendranath Pradhan (Talda)
iv) Sudhir Chandra Parya (Jaranagar,Khejuri)
Instances of Police Firing.
In addition to innumerable cases of arrest, lathi –charge, ransacking houses in the name of searching etc., a few incidents of opening fire took place making a good number of martyrs. They are recorded here –
Mahishagote (22/09/1942) – On 20/09/1942, a police party from Kanthi arrested some Congress Workers at Pitchhaboni, but, in the teeth of loud protest made by a large number of people, they had to beat retreat releasing the arrested persons. After the police had left, the people, in apprehension of reappearance of the police with a revenge – motive, dug up a deep and wide ditch across Kanthi - Ramnagar – Digha Road at Mahishagote (Sarisaberia) 4 miles south off Kanthi town, in order to prevent the police – vehicle from entering the area. Two days later, on 22nd Sept. 1942, a police force led by the police officer and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate came there and forced the local people to repair the ditch without any payment. As people protested against working gratis, the police offered payment for the job. In the meantime, as a shower caused a break in the job and people retired to a nearby shelter, another posse of armed police from Kanthi arrived .Now, as the Magistrate was talking to the people on resuming the job, a noisy dispute arose. The Magistrate ordered lathi – charge, and when situation worsened, he ordered firing. As a result six persons attained martyrdom – two died on the spot, two on their way to the hospital, one after reaching there and one some days later.
Jaminikanta Kamila (Tajpur, Kanthi)
Sarbeswar Pramanik (Dakshin Sitala, Ramnagar)
Ramaprasad Jana (Ghoul, Ramnagar)
Ananta Kumar Patra ( Patapukhuria, Kanthi)
Ananta Kumar Das( Beltalia, Kanthi)
Kunjabihari Sheet (Adambarh, Kanthi)
Inhuman Treatment of the Police
That the colonial police can hardly afford to have the humanitarian aspect became evident in their treatment with the wounded. In all, twenty four people were wounded in the firing. Three of them had not the power to stand on their legs. The police dragged them over the uneven fields, getting hold of their ankles and got them onto the truck like sacks of potato. When a teenager, struck by a wounded man’s cry for water, brought him some water, a policeman jabbed him with his gun. Of the wounded, four were -
i) Sudhakar Panda (Ghoul)
ii) Bankim Chandra Pradhan (Teghori)
iii) Haripada Sasmal (Kalindi)
iv) Basanta Kumar Das (Chandanpur)
Two of those killed at Mahishagote firing, Sarbeswar Pramanik and Ramaprasad Jana, belonged to Ramnagar Police Station. On 27/09/1942, those two local martyrs were being commemorated before the Belboni Camp under the leadership of Balailal Das Mahapatra, the commander – in –chief of the war council.
While the meeting was continuing,a police party appeared there.With the appearance of the police,the whole atmosphere of the area was charged with tension.Conch – shells were blown from house to house,village to village.People from villages ran pell-mell towards the camp in apprehension of some impending danger.As they closed in,the police too got wary and tried to disperse them by using their staffs.The people,having been harassed and tortured by the police in numerous ways,grew desperate,and braving the staff –rain,started pushing and jostling with the policemen.The police, scared and out of their wits,started firing at random.Ten persons were killed. They were-
i) Bhajahari Rout ( Belboni)
ii) Banshidhar Kar ( Kadua)
iii) Rajanikanta Ghosh (Sonakonia)
iv) Hemanta Kumar Das ( Kadua)
v) Chaitanya Kumar Bera (Madhabpur)
vi) Bhimacharan Dasmahapatra (Lalpur)
vii) Sibaprasad Bhunia ( Kalapunja)
viii) Chandra Mohon (Belboni)
ix) Chandra Mohon Jana (Ghoul)
x) Baishnab Charan Mahapatra (Lalpur)
In addition to these martyrs, some were seriously wounded. They were –
i) Upendranath Giri
ii) Bisnupada Pattanayak
iii) Amarendra Nath Maity
iv) Radhamohon Maity
Above all were from Dandabrlboni.
v) Kshirode Chandra Giri (Sonamuyee)
vi) Jiban Krishna Karan (Kalapunja)
vii) Sarbeswar Jana (Uttar Mukundapur)
Not only that, after the carnage, the police went on a rampage, beating people, at random, setting fire to houses and arresting volunteers of the neighbouring villages.
Another incident of firing by the police occurred at Alamgiri, a village in Egra Police Station. On 13th October 1942 a police posse was going to Panchrole, but, as the bamboo bridge over a canel, the only entrance to the village, was destroyed, it was returning to the Police Station. On their way back, the policeman entered the Alamgiri village, robbed a few houses setting fire to them after robbing. People of the village, from all corners ran twards the policeman urtering “Bandemataram”. The police, while trying to sneak out of the village by a narrow path, faced a few farmers, who, infact, were running away from the field for life. The police fired at them and they died on the spot. They were –
(i)Parasuram Kamila, (ii)Murarimohan Bera, (iii)Bhagiroth Raul.
The Final Stage of ‘Quit India’ Movement.
Semi –Violent Steps takan.
In spite of all the repressive measures, both constitutional and unconstitutional, adopted by the administrations, the mass – movement in Medinipur advanced steadily and in a disciplined way from one stage to another.So to decide how to give it the final touch and deal the British in the district a mortal blow, the leaders of Medinipur held a secret meeting in the kolkata – house of a distinguished Congress leader of Medinipur, Manmatha Nath Das. The meeting attended by the district leaders like Satish Chandra Samanta, Ajoy Kumar Mukhopadhyay,Biraj Mohon Das, Ram Sundar Singh,Sailaja Sen, Aditya Kumar Bankura,Mahendra Nath Mahato and Bhimacharan Patra fixed upon 29th September, the day to launch a Co-ordinated attack upon the Administrative Centres.
Tamluk and Kanthi (Contai).
Though the plan was taken for the whole district, though attempts were made everwhere in the district to execute it, it was nowhere so successful as in the case of twin sisters, Tamluk and Kanthi. In these two Sub-divisions, the movement was total and historic, and, in spite of being violent in nature to some extent, extracted appreciation from none other than the apostle of non – violence, Gandhi.
Reasons of Success in Kanthi.
While tracing the causes of success of this movement in Kanthi, Samar Sen, the Sub-divisional Magistrate of Kanthi at that time,pointed to the people mostly belonging to a particular caste.But this was an oversimplication of the matter,and the real reasons were either lost sight of or carefully avoided.That the success of successive struggles –from the Malangi Revolt and Salt Law Violation to the No-Tax movement.- set a tradition and laid a sound foundation for a greater mass – movement cannot be denied by any one.The unity of people that made Mr. Sen raise his eyebrows was the result of the spade – work done by the leaders who, in spite of being many, in spite of nourishing private openions, did not fail to work together with a common goal.They knew that unity does not depend so much on caste or religion as on living together, working together and fighting together for a common cause.
Elaborate preparations were taken to put the plan,adopted by the district leaders, into Different Committees at different levels were formed.
The executive committee at the Sub-divisional level was formed in the following way-
President- Nikunjabihari Maity
Vice-President – 1.Bhimacharan Patra.
Secretary- Rasbihari Pal
Asst.Secretary- Kangal Chandra Giri
Trasurer- Iswar Chandra Mal
Accountant-Rakhal Chandra Maity
Two or three representatives were deputed to every P.S. Committee.
For Kanthi P.S. Committee
i)Basanta Kumar Das
iii)Kangal Chandra Giri.
For Bhagawanpur P.S.Committee.
i)Nikunja Behari Maity
For Khejuri P.S. Committee.
i)Gobina prasad Hait
For Ramnagar P.S.Committee.
i)Srinath Chandra Maity
i)Ashutosh Roy Chowdhury
War Councils were formed to carry out the final offensive.
For Khejuri P.S.
(a)Commander -in-Chief –Amrita Lal Das
(b)Members:-Pulin Behari Sen,Gobinda Prasad Hait, Radhika Kanta Samanta, Birendra Nath Mal, Upendranath Jana, Koustav Kanti Karan, Yogendranath Ghorai, Santosh Kumar Jana and Gopinath Bera.
(a)Commander-in-Chief-Kalipada Roy Mahapatra
(b)Members:-Sashisekhar Mandal,Sashibhusan Pal,Sasanka Sekhar Maity,Asutose Roy Chowdhury,Shyamacharan Bera,Prasanna Kumar Tripathi, Nabadwip Chandra Pattanayak,Gobinda Prasad Bag, Bhusan Chandra Sasmal and Radhanath Das Adhikari.
President – Dhirendranath Das
Secretary – Priyanath Panda
Other Members:-Hrisshikesh Gayen,Murarimohon Sasmal, Barendra Kumar
Commander-in-Chief – Basanta Kumar Das
Other Members:- Hemanta Kumar Mahapatra,Amulya Kumar Das,Jiban Krishna Chakrabarty, Nabin Chandra Mahapatra (Birnabin),Girijakanta Mahapatra,Hrishikesh Chakrabarty,Yogendranath Sou, Nagendranath Mondal,Paresh Chandra Das, Mangobinda Mondal, Indubhusan Kungar, Haridas Bhunis,Gobinda Prasad Sou.
People Volunteers and Training.
Meetings, Processions and group – discussions were arranged in good number in all police stations, in order to make people abreast of the situation, to motivate and mobilize them.And people responded positively,turning out in hundreds and thousands.Eight thousand volunteers, who were ready to lay down their their lives for their motherland, were enlisted in the Sub-division. In each of the eighty two Unions of the Sub-division, at least one camp was set for the traning of the volunteers.Police would rarely dare to arrest volunteers or people from the meetings,processions or camp, for it would be impossible to make arrest without firing,without causing grave casualty.
Participation of students and teachers lent a further grace and added a new dimention to the movement.Even the military personnel taking arrested students from one jail to another would not fail to show respect to them.The students of Kanthi P.K.College (Contai) and different schools of the Sub-division played their part admirably by observing strikes, bringing out processions, picketing, courting arrest and imprisonment. Some of the remarkable names of student –activists are Birendra Nath Maity, Subodh Gopal Guchhayet, Banabehari Pal, Prabir Jana,Mrityunjoy Maity, Sudhir Chandra Parya and Rabindranath Maity. Of the teachers relinquishing job for serving the cause of the motherland, mention should be made of Birendranath Mal, a teacher of Haludbari H.E. School in Khejuri,and Krishna Kumar Chak.
Chowikidars & Daffadar.
Chowkiders and daffadars were the auxiliary police personnel of the two lowermost rungs.As they lived in villages, among the common people, they rendered a very useful service in collecting information, in case of identifying village people.As a vital part of preparation for the final stage of the Quit-India movement, these chowkidars and Daffadars were made inactive, either by persuation or by force.The Personnel who had to be brought round by force were kept under strict vigilance so that they could, in no way, communicate with the higher authority.As a result, the police were,in fact, kept in the dark as to much of the activities in the village, the movement and whereabouts of the of the leaders in the rural areas in the rural areas. So when the ‘Non – Violent Soldiers’ of the Quit –India movement fell upon the police stations or any other Government office or building like an avalanche, the police in most cases were caught napping.
Actions in Khejuri (28th September).
In khejuri Police Station,the Zero-hour was chosen to be the midnight make the way for 29th September.The Police Station and the Khasmahal Office [Land & Land Revenue Office] located at two different ends of the police – station-area –the first at the south end,at Janka, and the second at the west end, at Heria. Pulin Bihari Sen and Upendra Nath Jana were in charge of the whole operation at both ends. Under their supreme command, Bibhuti Bhusan Dinda with his assistants, Umacharan Mondal, Digambar Das and Yogendranath Patra was to taske charge of burning down the Police Station and its adjacent offices, while the charge burning down the Khasmahal Office at Heria was laid on shouldrs of Purnendu Sekhar Bhowmik and his men.
Three to four thousand volunteers from different places with a few tins of kerosene oil and materials to make big torches like bamboo, jute – fibre, rope etc.assembled at Ajanbari market without making a noise or .With First Aid things and some medicine, Dr. Sibapada Banerjee, Dr. Mahendra Nath Ghosh and the Compounder Manindra Nath Jana were ready to attend on persons in case of casualty.As night progressed, more volunteers came and the total rose to six to seven thousand.
A group of experienced and skilled workers was lurking in a house adjacent to the Police Station in order to collect the latest report.In the mean time, Fifty chosen workers advanced strealthely to Jafarchauk and by a narrow lane reached the southern point of the Police Station.Another group led by Saroje Kumar Pike, advancing silently as close to the western plank as possible, was waiting in ambush.Now the count -down began.
The gong went eleven times.The police guard lay down on the bench for a cat-nap.A Constable was reading aloud from the Ramayana.The group under the leadership of Saroje Kumar Pike from western side ran into the Police Station.Two workers,Bholanath Kamila and Rakhal Chandra Bar pounced upon the two constables, overpowered them and snatched their guns. Purnendu Mishra and others waiting at the southern point ran into the compound and made captive of all other police personnel.The O.C. was absent.The second officer, bankimbabu, was made captive quite unawards.The Jamader whose quarter at a little distance tried to run away by jumping into a pond but the watchful volunteers caught him.The operation was completein a matter of minutes, without blood-shed.
Sarojebabu blue his whistle.Immediately a thousand volunteers, waiting at the market under the leadership of Pulin Sen, ran to the Police Station. The captives were huddled together and kept under watch, the arms were collected, piled up and guarded. Now it was the time for a bonfire, kerosene oil was sprinkled all over the houses and they were set on fire.
Now attention of the victorious and jubilant people and their leaders turned to Sub-registry office, not far off. The Sub-registrar was captured. The Registry Office was razeld to the ground. The Sub-Postoffices at Janka, Khejuri, haludbari and Kalagetchia, the Sanitary Inspector’s office and Govt. Bungalows at Boga, Kamarda and Birbandar shared the same fate.
Henriya (Heria) Khasmal Goes up in Flames.
The man in charge of destroying Henriya Khasmalhal was Purnendu Sekhar Bhowmik and his deputies were Rabinranath Giri,Jiban Krishna Giri, Sachin Samanta, Subhas Chandra Samanta, Rabinra Nath Bera, Narayan Chandra Parya and some others. The charge of snatching the gun from the guard on duty was apportioned to a young volunteer of Begunabari, Jagadish Chandra Parua.
The gero –hour was fixed at 11 p.m., synchronizing with the time of the P.S. attack. But the volunteers, numbering about a thousand and arriving newly in the evening under the leadership of Sridam Samanta and Gnanakanta Bera, were too enthusiastic to bide time, and the scheduled hour had to be refixed at 7 p.m..According to the plan, Jagadish Parua with his bamboo staff sprang upon the armed guard, knocked him to the ground and unarmed him.Other personnel too were captured. The Khasmahal officer, Naziruddin Ahmed was made captive. The brick building was brought down brick by brick with the help of digging tools and axes, and the inflammable articles records, registers or articles of furniture were set on fire. The officials, made captive, were sent to Kanthi, three days after, safe and sound.
Other Acts of Destruction.
Two bridges, one Gorahar and another at Palabonid, were destroyed after Khasmahal destruction. In an attempt to snap off the communication between Khejuri and Kanthi the ferry –boats at Rasulpur and elsewhere were also destroyed. Only the ferry boats at Sarpai and Chingundania were reserved under the care of some watchmen for the sake of their own communication with the Sub-division. The loan office [Wrin –Salishi Board] with all papers and records were completely gutted, and three Union Boards and five Panchayet union offices within Khejuri P.S. went the same way.
Pataspur P.S. Destroyed.
On the night of 29th September, as people around had gone to bed, punctually in accordance with the plan chalked out earlier, four groups of well- trained and well-disciplined armus of volunteers started marching silently towards their target, the Police Station. The leaders of the four groups were as follows:-
Northern Group – Bhadreswar Kar and Sarbeswar Santra
Southern Group – Abanindranath Das Mahapatra
Eastern Group - Bhimacharan Patra
Western Group - Ramanath Jana
As all the four groups drew very close to the target from four different directions, the Commander –in –Chief, Kalipada Roy Mahapatra, gave the green signal and the volunteers fell upon the policemen, who, being caught quite unwares, failed to put up any resistance worth mentioning and surrendered. The officer who escaped that night was captured later, but the four constables at the station were made captives and their rifles were sized. The fire made by volunteers devoured the wooden furniture and records in the P.S..The thatched houses were set on fire and the brick-built ones were reduced to debris.
Destruction of other Offices or Institutions.
Seven post offices, situated at different places in the police station with their postage stamps, postal documents and valuable things were burnt to ashes. The volunteers also destroyed the Sub-Registry Office of Pataspur with all the documents kept there. The same thing happened to the Loan-Board Office, six Union Boards and eight Panchayet Union Offices. The Excise offices at Pataspur and Manglamaro, the Govt. Bungalows at Argoyal, Aamgtchia, Gokulpur and Gopalpur also lost their existence.Thus the volunteers did away with all the offices and institutions in Pataspur Police Station area tht stood and worked for the British Government in India, However, quite unlike the British ways,the volunteers were never unduly cruel to the Govt. personnel.
Bhagawanpur P.S.Soaked in Blood
According to the decision of the Bhagawanpur War Council, the P.S. operation was to take place in broad daylight, at 3.30 p.m.. It was decided that four processions starting from four ends of the P.S. area and taking en route all volunteers of the villages through which they would pass were to congregate near the Police Station at 3.30 and then they would attack the P.S. under the leadership of the Commender-in-Chief, Dhirendranath Das.It was also decided that, as police atrocity was quite usual to apprehend, women be strictly forbidden from taking part in the procession. The leaders to lead the four processions were-
i) Nagendranath Bera and Aswini kumar Maity (Northern Procession)
ii) Hrishikesh Gayen and Murari Mohon Sasmal (Southern Procession)
iii) Pitabas Das and Bhupendranath Maity (Eastern Procession)
iv) Priyanath Panda and Barendranath Das (Western Procession)
29th September. The much awating day dawns. The processions, according to the schedule, start. The tri-colour national flags held fast in their hands fluttered expectantly. All the way, the volunteers, processionists sang patriotic songs, shouted slogans in the name of their leaders and iterating their resolution. Needless to say, the villagers greeted them warmly everywhere.
Target in Sight.
It was still some time to the Zero hour. The eastern procession was within a hearing distance. Their slogans were being heard. The southern procession was in sight but the northern procession was still out of sight. However the western procession with a part of the main procession from the south was very near to the target. The leaders tried to hold the volunteers back till the arrival of all.But the volunteers were burning with enthusiasm.
Enemy in Position.
On the other hand, as the operation was no secret, the police got ample time to get ready for the encounter. They were intent on keeping the pillar of administration, the P.S., erect. The gate of the P.S., the only entrance to the well-fenced police station, was being kept by policemen taking position and aiming their guns.
The Valley of Death.
So the volunteers from the western and the southern pocession marched into the Valley of Death. The police kept firing. Seven persons died – thirteen instantly and four some time after and more than a hundred were wounded.In the meantime the evening came down and the volunteers were busy taking the wounded to the waiting doctors for treatment and recovering the dead bodies for fitting funeral.
Success or Failure ?
To an ordinary person, the attempt of the volunteers may appear to have ended in smoke, for not a single piece of brick of the P.S. building was displaced. But in truth, the venture was more than what we call a success. Volunteers showed how to beard death in its den. Their instances were enough to shake off all the imaginary shackles of fear in all forms. And when people become free from fear, can Freedom be far behind ?
Martyrs and Could – be Martyrs.
Dead but Alive.
Names of the immortal martyrs.
i)Bhibhuti Bhusan Das – Village –Bartan –son of a Congress worker
ii)Barendranath Das – A student of I.A. class – shot while pouring water into the gapping mouth of a dying volunteer –dying in the P.S. lock-up without any treatment.
iii)Krishnamohon Chakrabarty –village Basudevpur,Police Station –Egra –Education Matric, V.M. Head Pandit of Bhimeswari Junior High School- being shot feel into a pond-breathed his last there.
iv)Srinath Chandra Pradhan –Village –Kulberia –the brother of Kamdeb Pradhan who died in Masuria police firing in 1932-an ordinary villager –pretending no distinction.
v)Shyamacharan Maity-Village –Bahadurpur-Father-Dwarikanath.
vi)Haripada Maity –village-Gurhgram-Father-Iswar Chandra.
vii)Yudhistir Jana – village Simulia – Father – Indranarayan.
viii)Taraknath Jana – village –Bneudia –Father Udaychand.
ix)Gnanada Charan Maity – village –Totanala – Father – Raghunath.
x)Jagannath Patra –village-Nunhasta-Father-Koilas
xi)Rajani Kanta Maity –village Khajurardi – Father –Rampada
xii)Raghunath Mondal –village- Betuliachauk –Father –Janardan
xiii)Paresh Chandra Jana –Village-Garahbard-Father-Shyamacharan
xiv)Dhirendra Nath Dalapali –Village – Kasba –Father-Nilkantha (Died in police lock –up after eighteen days)
xv)Bharat Chandra Singh –village-Nelua Gopalchauk- Father- Madhusudan
xvi)Bhusan Chandra Samanta –village – Benauda – Father-Bhikhan Chandra
xvii)Bhupati Charan Das – village – Shyamsundarpur-P.S.Sabang –Father –Kalachand
xviii)Kedarnath Maity –Bahadurpur-Father-Sitanath-Shot in the day of action and died on 03.04.1943 from the wound.
A few of those who were wounded on the day and who were very near being martyres were-
Coming out of the Jaws of Death.
i)Manibhusan Pradhan ( Bhupatinagar)
ii)Bankim Chandra Dalui (Manikjorh)
iii)Hardu Charan Majhi ( Dumurdanri)
iv)Barendra Nath Das ( Radhapur)
v)Baneswar Maity ( Baraberia)
vi)Dr. Manmatha Maity ( Abasberia)
vii)Nimai Charan Das ( Abasberia)
viii)Jatindra Nath Das ( bamunia)
ix)Sarbeswar Maity ( Dumurdanri)
x)Jibankrishna Ghorui (Padmatamali)
xi)Bhaskar Chandra Majhi (Bhupatinagar)
xii)Purna Chandra Das ( Janadanri)
xiii)Kshirode Chandra Sahu ( Garhabard)
xiv)Gunadhar Hazra (Kakra)
Some Minior Action of Destruction.
Put the limbs out of Operation.
Funerals and treatment of the wounded took two days.Then the remaining actions in the list of the revolutionaries were taken up for performance. On 1st October, the post offices at Totanala, Bhimeswari, Kajlagarh,Mugberia, Baraberia (All in Bhagwanpur P.S. ) were destroyed. One Telegraph Office, the Circle Officer’s Office, Sub-Registry Office and the Jute Office [ All at Kajlagarh ] went the same way. The Govt.Bungalows at Uttarbard, Dalbard, Udbadal and Poushi had to kiss the dust. Sanitary Inspector’s Office, Union Board Office and a few ferry boats were also destroyed. Moreover, communication link was cut off by digging ditches at two places on the road of the District Board and by destroying a concrete bridge.
Egra High School,a thorn in the flesh.
Like those of other police stations, the leaders of Egra P.S. adopted all the usual preparatory measures, escalating the movement step by step, keeping their eyes on the 29th September. Before that date, one of the remarkable incidents was that of closing Egra high School. With the help of the students and volunteers, the schools at Basudevpur, Balighai, Panchrol and some other schools had already been closed. But although some students of Egra High School like Nirmal Kumar Mahapatra and Jatindranath Jana took active part in the August Movement, no action had been taken to close it as it was very close to the Police Station. But Egra Jhatulal High School, running uninterrupted under the very nose of the leaders, was a thorn in their flesh. They determined to shut it down on 21st September. Volunteers from different Unions assembled on the ground adjacent to the School on 21.09.1942. The leaders like Hemanta Kumar Mahapatra, Nabin Kumar Mahapatra, Bankim Chandra Das, Sailaja Charan Chakrabarty and Basanta Kumar Das spoke to the volunteers and then entering the School en masse got into the Headmaster’s room and forced him to put on the Gandhi–Cap. Under duress, the Headmaster came to the meeting place and promised to close the School. Then the leaders ravaged the school, destroying the papers and books.
After the incident, the Sub-divisional Magistrate came to the spot, tortured the students and same local Shop-keepers and residents.Among those who had to bear the brunt were Krishna Prasad Maity, Nirmal Mahapatra, the P.S. Congress Secretary Bankim Chandra Das and another leader Sailaja Charan Chakrabarty. Mr. Das and Mr. Chakrabarty had to serve imprisonment for one year each.
Communication Cut off.
Egra P.S., being stationed just beside the Kanthi-Belda Road by which military convoyes and administrative authorities used to pass frequently, was a tough target and could not be attacked without incurring heavy casualty. Therefore, the leaders chose other subversive acts to carry out in the first place. In the dead hours of the night of 28th September, the leaders got together with about a thousand of volunteers at Mirjapur, divided themselves into three groups and were out on delinking the communications of Egra with the outside world. One group, led by Basanta Kumar Das and assisted by Hemanta Kumar Patra, Kshitish Chandra Mahapatra, Girija Mahapatra, Bankim Chandra Pradhan, Jiban Krishna Chakrabarty, Radhakanta Maity, Rebati Mohon Das, Radhagobinda Sou, Kandarpa Mishra, Bhupendranath Dey and Narendra Nath Maity, uprooted all the telegraph posts between Egra and Jerhthan bundled up the wire and threw them all into ponds. The jobs of cutting off the telegraph wire between Bhabanichauk and Tajpur, felling big trees beside the road and blocking it with them, digging up ditches on the road from Dobandhi to Mohanpur, destroying the culverts in between the two places and also the bridge near Tajpur were executed by the second group of volunteers led by Bankim Chandra Das and Narendranath Maity with the assistance of Amulya Kumar Das, Sailaje Charan Chakrabarty, Gobinda Prasad Sou, Nalinikanta Rout, Mangobinda Mondal, Gopinath Manna, Indubhusan Kungar, Haridas Bhunia and the volunteers.
Destroy the Limbs of the Government.
The attention of the leaders now turned to all other institutions and properties of the Government. To destroy Egra Post Office, posed the same problem as did the Police Station. So it was left to exist, but some other post offices including the one at Boita in Mohonpur P.S. were reduced to ashes or debris.
The destruction of Balighai Post Office needed careful planning because of its location by the main road. On a market-day, the volunteers appeared in the market-place, as if on marketing, and then, under the leadership of Narendranath Maity, made a short work of burning all the papers and documents to ashes, without burning the house which was a tenanted one and without touching any money or coin because of the high moral of the volunteers.
The Ferry Vessels at Satmile.
Two large vessels were used to ferry passengers and goods across the Orissa Coast Canal on the way from Kanthi to Belda. As it was a vital link between Kanthi and Kharagpur and Medinipur towns, its importance was only too apparent. At the same time, the task of destroying them was somewhat risky because not only the chance-arrieval of a military convoy or a police-patrol car was quite a probability but the boatman on guard in one of the vessels might raise a hue and cry. An army of about five hundred volunteers under the joint –command of Joygobinda Patra and Debendranath Das cut off the ropes tying the vessels to their mooring, rowed them as far as Paltaberiya and destroyed them. The patriotic sentiment ran so strong at the time that the boatman too was deeply influenced and not only remained an idle spectator all through the operation but did not disclose any name in spite of dire threatening.
Other Offices Set on Fire.
The Union board and Loan Settlement Board [ Wrin Salisi Board], the Tole office, Govt. Bungalows, the Excise office and godown with all the papers,records, contents or goods were set on fire.
The movement in Ramnagar Police Station went on unflagged, from the Salt-Law-Violation right up to the Quit-India, braving the inhuman torture practiced by the police. Here people’s participation was spontaneous and almost total and the leaders and sympathisers were too many to record their names with justice to all. After the incidents of Mahisagote on 22.09.1942 and of Belboni on 27.09.1942, the police unleashed a reign of terror by making indiscriminate arrest,torturing people,robbing the houses and setting them on fire, Consequently, there was no special programme for Ramnagar Police Station on 29th September. However, many volunteers under the leadership of the student –leader Radhagobinda Bisal joined with Egra-revolutionaries to take part in their destructive campaign.
Kanthi, the administrative centre of the Sub-division and also the centre of the movements, played a big role in guiding the course of the movements, setting examples and acting as a source of inspiration. But as most of the leaders had been behind the bars and as the possibility of a gigantic loss of life made any destructive campaign appear untenable, 29th September at Kanthi passed uneventful, though the police-torture upon Kanthi-people was by no means less severe.
The Report of Mr. Sen.
The Effect of the Campaign.
The report given by the contemporary Sub-divisional Magistrate of Kanthi, Mr.Samar Sen, to the Government, as quoted by Mr.Prasanta Pramanik in his book of reminiscence ‘Romonthan’, corroborates the accounts given earlier, if they need corroboration of the government. “By the end of September (1942) climex had been reached. Roads were being repeatedly cut, telegraph communication completely shattered and ferry boats, Dak bungalows, dispensaries, kerosene boats, two Police Stations and many other Government and semi – public institutions had been burnt. Police parties and Government Officers had been kidnapped and administration had practically broken down except in the Police Station Headquarters of Contai, Egra and Ramnagar. At Bhagawanpur, they were just able to hold the thana against repeated attack by the mob killing about 30 persons. This was the situation we faced on the 29th September.
The report betrays the hopeless, near collapsing condition of the administration in Kanthi Sub-division giving full credit to the leaders of the movement and the people in general.
Govt. Measures to Curb Movement.
The Government took sternest measures to put a curb on the movement. After the destructive campaign of 29th September, Kanthi Sub-division was virtually brought under military rule. The 36 mile long Kanthi-Belda Road which was the only way of connection between Kanthi and Medinipur town was brought under military control. The army patrolled the road day and night. In conformity to the Defence of India Act xxxv, the Sub-divisional Magistrate ordered that no one expect M.B.doctors keep out of doors from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., that more than four persons be not allowed to get together, that conch-shells be not blown except on religious occasions.
A Denial Policy was put to effect. According to that policy, boats were seized or destroyed, bicycles too were seized and dumped in the Police Station, from 30th September all the buses of Kanthi bus Syndicate and Kalinagar and Ramnagar bus Associations were withdrawn, the mail-bus plying between Kanthi and belda was not allowed to take ordinary passengers, and strict sensorship was enforced on all letters in the post offices that were still in operation.
Military Camps & Exercises.
From 1st October, twelve military camps were set in different places of the sub-division. There were twelve hundred soldiers at first, but later their number increased. There actions, gesture and behaviour, which were barbaric, were clearly meant to create panic in people. Aeroplanes flying over the area everyday to keep watch also meant to serve the same purpose.
The Kanthi Sub-divisional Magistrate, Mr. Samar Sen, in his report to the government, refers to steps taken by the administration in order to crush the movement. Without mincing matters, he admits that while some of these measures were constitutional some were unconstitutional. Leagal measures included –
i) Clamping 144 Cr. P.C.
ii) Imposing mass fines
iii) Conducting night –raids
iv) Maintaining patrolling by the police and the military
v) Imposing Curfew on the movement of people. and so on
The unconstitutional measures included –
i) Burning down the houses of those who harboured the revolutionaries
ii) Beating up the supporters of them
iii) Detaining the supporters for close interrogation
iv) Robbing houses in some cases
v) Beating up innocent people and detaining them to collect information.
However, no repressive measures can produce a lasting effect. The tighter become the ties, the stronger becomes the resolution to untie them. The subsequent incidents confirm the truth of these sayings.
Cyclone of 16th October, 1942.
In the meantime the almost annual scourge of Kanthi burst forth in all its fury, bringing forth, on one hand, the best in some men, on the other, the worst in some, and causing a temporary suspension of the movement.
Cyclone & its tou.
16th October, 1942. It was the 2nd day of the four –day Durgapuja Festivel. The sky, overcast with black clouds from the morning, looked ominous. As the day advanced, the rain become torrential and the wind assumed the form of Cyclone. By the noon, storm and downpour started playing havoc. The sea-dyke broke and 20 feet high waves invaded the inland. Next morning, it was water, water every where. The cyclone hit the whole district of Medinipur, but Kanthi, because of its location,was the wrost sufferer. According to the statement given by the Revenue Minister, Pramathanath Banerjee, in answer to a question raised Sibnath Banerjee (M.L.C.), out of 14,443 people killed in the whole district, Kanthi alone suffered the loss of 10,942 people. However, the local administration reported of a much higher casualty. According to this report, thirteen Thousand people were drowned, three-fourths of the livestock perished and one lakh houses were destroyed.
The Salt of the Earth.
Trailakyanath Pradhan of Ramanagar, who lost twenty seven members of his family including his only son in the flood, unburdened himself of the thought of personal loss in no time and was after doing whatever he could for the suffering people. With great hardship walking a long way and wading, he through water managed to go to Kolkata, contacted Shyamaprasad Mukherjee (Minister of Bengal), Pramathanath Banerjee (Revenue Minister) and Habibullah (The Nawab of Dacca), apprised them to the pathetic condition in Kanthi and appealed for relief. Kangal Chandra Giri and Narendranath Maity had to go to Kolkata via Baleswar, in absence of any road or boat, contacted Ananda Prasad Chowdhry of Kumilla, ‘Abhoy Ashram’, who then came to Kanthi, collected information and made it public in Kolkata. As a result of their effort, many non-government organizations like Hindu Mahasabha, Marwarri Relief Society, Bengal Relief Committee, Nababidhan Relief Committee, Punjab Relief Committee, Ramkrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Sangha came to the area and carried on the relief work.
Govt. Apathy, Antipathy or Administrative Failure ?
The Minister Shyamaprasad Mukherjee and some historians leveled some serious charges against the administration. They were that in spite of receiving the weather report in advance from Kolkata the local administration gave no warning to people, that curfew was not relaxed even at the fateful night of 16th –17th September, that a few boats being used by people in rescue-service were confiscated, that the District Magistrate expressed unwillingness to carry on relief – work as a punitive measure for the hostility of people to the government, that a ban was imposed on newspapers regarding the publication of people’s misery, that even when relief-work started, nocturnals raids following it raised grave allegation etc.
In an attempt to refute the charges, the authority pointed to the critical political situation of the time and, along with some other things, tried to put the blame on the local people whatever might be the substance of their argument, ir cannot be denied that the local authority was more concerned about restoring the political situation in favour of the British Government taking full advantage of the hopeless and helpless condition of people than coming forward to the rescue and relief of people regardless of their identities. Servants, overjealous to gratify the cause of their masters, often do things that put their masters to shame.
Unabated Police Atrocity.
In order to give an idea of the atrocity practiced by the police, some statistics in respect of police – action in Kanthi Sub-division during the period from August to December , offered in ‘Swadhinata Sangramei Medinipur’ by Dr. Rasbihari Pal & Prof. Haripada Maity, are given here –
1. Killed (a) In Police Firing –41
(b) Succumbing to torture –9
2. Wounded in firing –175
3. Rape or rape attempt –228
4. Setting fire to houses –965
5. Amount of loss caused by burning houses –Rs. 5,41,434.00
6. Arrest – 12641 Persons
7. Convicted –672 Persons
8. (a) House – robbery – 2,059 houses
(b) Amount robbed – Rs. 3,55,246.00
9. Injured by staff – blow – 6,685 Persons
10. Mass – fine extracted – Rs. 30,000.00
11. Persons forced to do the duty of Special Constables – 434
12. Hindu women kidnapped – 10
Instance Showing Callousness of Authority and Unfazed Sprit of People.
The incident took place at Marisda. A ditch had been dug on Kanthi – Kalinagar Road at Marisda. On 30th September, both the D.M. and the S.D>O. came there and forced the local people and students to repair the road. While the repairing – job was going on, the evening set in, and the police set the near –by Primary –School on fire for lighting the place. A school-houses was torched to make light ! However, no sooner did the policemen leave the place, the ditch was reopened.
Next day the police came again, set fire to twenty five houses, beat up some men including an old man named Brajamohon Manna and made route-march up to Bhaintgarh where in order to disperse the encircling people opened fire killing two persons on the spot. On their way back to Kanthi, the police arrested fifteen persons including some businessmen of nachinda. Undaunted, the people burnt down the post-office at nachinda and another in the neighbouring area.
The process went on. The police and military caused sufferings and loss to people in different ways in their effort to bring people down to their knees, while the people endured their loss and suffering valiantly and carried on operations to make the government immobile and inoperative. That people were the virtual winners was confirmed by a letter of A.K.Fajlul Haque (Prime Minister), Government of Bengal. In his letter, Mr. Haque reffered to the movement, particularly in Tamluk and Kanthi- “ ---- but there is no denying the fact that their object was to paralyse the civil administration and they succeeded in doing so at least in some areas”.