Read this article to learn about ideologies and programmes of the Indian revolutionaries in India and abroad!
The first decade of the 20th century saw the rise of revolutionary terrorism in Indian politics with active participation from extremists within the Congress.
The revolutionaries wanted quicker results and discounted the value of persuasion. The revolutionary terrorists aimed at overthrowing British rule from India.
They were inspired by the Irish terrorists and Russian Nihilists and followed their method of assassinating corrupt and unpopular officials. They also engaged in dacoities to raise funds for the purchase of arms, etc. popularly known as Swadeshi dacoities. The revolutionary terrorists were operating in Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra, and parts of South India and even in foreign countries. Many secret societies of the terrorist youths also came into existence.
In Bengal, the beginning of revolutionary activities is traced to the Bhadralok class. Secret societies like the Anushilan Samiti came to be established by Pramotha Mitra at Calcutta and by Pulin Das at Dacca. There were other societies as Swadeshi Bandana and Sadhana Samaj.
Yugantar, a weekly was started by B.Ghose and Bhupindra Nath Datta in 1908. The Bengal revolutionaries namely Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki threw a bomb on the carriage of Kingsford, the unpopular judge of Muzzafarpur in 1908.
In Maharashtra, the first political murder of a European was committed at Poona by the Chapekar brothers, Damodarand Balkrishna. In 1904, V.D. Savarkar organized the Mitra Mala that later merged into the secret society Abhinav Bharat formed on the lines of Mazzini’s Young Italy.
In Punjab, the revolutionary movement rose under Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh. A bomb was thrown at an English official by Rash Behari Bose and Sachindranath Sanyal.
The Ghadar Movement:
The Ghadar Movement was founded in the United States by Sohan Singh Bhakna and recognized by Hardayal. Some of its prominent leaders were Rehmat Ali Shah, Bhai Paramanand, Mohammed Barkatullah, Ram Chandra and soon. It aimed at bringing an armed revolution in India and brought out a weekly called Ghadar.
Under the leadership of Lala Hardayal, the Ghadar party operated from Germany and set up an Indian Independence Committee at Berlin. The Committee planned to mobilize Indian settlers abroad to make all efforts, send volunteers to India to incite rebellion among the troops, to send explosives to Indian revolutionaries and even organize an invasion of British India to liberate the country.
In reaction to the revolutionary activities the government unleashed repressive measures against the revolutionaries. Many legislations were passed to curb the activities of the revolutionaries.
The Surat Split of 1907:
At the 23rd session of the Congress at Surat, the moderates and extremists came into conflict. The split was caused due to the differences of opinion on the resolution of Swadeshi and boycott passed by the Calcutta Session of the Congress in 1906 under Dadabhai Nauroji. The Home Rule League
In India two Home Rule Leagues were formed in 1916, one by Tilak at Poona in July 1916 and the other by Annie Besant in September 1916 based on the Irish Home Rule League. Tilak’s league was to work in Maharashtra while Besant’s league was to work on all India basis.
Both the leagues were to work in unison and aimed at the achievement of self-government for India. The league’s objective was to educate the people and provide the Congress demand for self-government more strongly. The Home Rule League functioned independently from the Congress. They aimed to pressurize the British public for granting self-government to India. The activities of the league consisted of holding public meetings, organizing discussions, distribution of pamphlets, posters, etc.
The Lucknow Session, 1916:
The Lucknow Session of the Congress held in 1916 under the presidentship of AC. Mazumdar is known for two things. Firstly it marked the reunion of the moderates and the extremists after the Surat split of 1907. Tilak and Annie Besant dominated the proceedings of this session. The Lucknow session is also memorable because the congress and the Muslim League came together and signed the Lucknow Pact in 1916. This pact accepted a united scheme of constitutional reform.
Revolutionary terrorism was a byproduct of the process of the growth of militant nationalism in India. It acquired a more activist form as a fall out of the Swadeshi and boycott movement. The first revolutionary groups were organised in 1902 in Midnapore under Jnanendranath Basu and the Anushiian Samiti founded by Promotha Mitter and Barindra Kumar Ghosh in Calcutta.
The methods adopted by the revolutionaries were propagation of revolutionary ideas through the organisation of secret societies in India and abroad, publication of pamphlets, books & journals, organisation of military conspiracies, assassination of oppressive and unpopular officials, etc. In 1908, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose threw a bomb at a carriage supposed to be carrying Judge Kingsford in Muzaffarnagar.
Two ladies, instead got killed. Khudiram Bose was the first revolutionary to be hanged. In 1908, Barrah Dacoity was organised by Dacca Anushiian under Pulin Das. Rasbehari Bose and Sachin Sanyal staged a spectacular bomb attack on Vicerory Hardinge in 1912.
In Maharashtra, the Chapekar brothers, Damodar and Balkrishna murdered the plague cosmmissioner of Poona, Rand and one Lt. Ayerst in 1897. Savarkar and his brother organised Mitra Mela, a secret society in 1899, which merged with Abhinav Bharat in 1904. Madan Lai Dhingra in 1909 assassinated Curzon Wyllie.
During the First World War, the Berlin Committee for Indian Independece was established in 1915 by Virendranath Chattopadhyay, Hardayal and others. Bhaga Jatin organised revolutionary activity in Bengal and died in an encounter at Balasore. Revolutionary terrorism was again revived after the sudden withdrawal of non-cooperation movement.
The revolutionaries were influenced by Russian Revolution (1917), Journals such as Atmasakti, Sarathi, Bijoli, novels and books such as Bandi Jivan by Sachin Sanyal and PatherDabi by Sarat Chandra Chatterjee. In 1924, Hindustan Republican Army (HRA) was founded at Kanpur by Sachin Sanyal, Jogesh Chandra Chaterjee with an aim to organise an armed revolution to overthrow the colonial government. The most important action of HRA was the Kakori robbery in which official railway cash was looted (9 August 1925).
The participants Bismil, Ashfaqullah, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri were hanged. In 1928, Hindustan Socialist Republican Association was organised in Delhi under the leadership of Chandra Sekhar Azad. In December 1928 Bhagat Singh, Azad and Rajguru shot dead Saunders, the police official responsible for the lathi charge on Lala Lajpat Rai in Lahore.
In 1929, Batukeshwar Dutt and Bhagat Singh were asked to throw a bomb in the Central Assembly against the passage of the Public Safety Bill and Trade Disputes Bill. Azad was killed in a police encounter in Allahabad in February 1931. Bhagat, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged on March 23, 1931. In Bengal the famous Chittagong Armouy raid (April 1930) was carried under the leadership of Surya Sen.
Causes for their failures:
1. The revolutionaries mainly came from the urban middle class intellegentsia out of touch with the peasants and workers.
2. They lacked a common plan and central leadership.
3. The British government on its part followed a ruthless and repressive policy towards them.