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The Revolutionary movement for Indian independence is often a less-highlighted aspect of the Indian independence movement -- the underground revolutionary factions. The groups believing in armed revolution against the ruling British fall into this category. The revolutionary groups were concentrated in Maharastramarker, Bengalmarker, Orissamarker, Biharmarker, Uttar Pradeshmarker and Punjab. More groups were scattered around Indiamarker.

The underlying philosophy of the revolutionary groups arose largely against the Partition of Bengal , which cemented a Pan-Indian patriotic feeling, increasing in intensity, culminating in the Civil Disobedience of Gandhi. The revolutionaries more often than not considered Gandhi a hero, despite their ways being poles apart.


Apart from a few stray incidents, the armed rebellion against the British rulers was not organized before the beginning of the 20th century. The revolutionary philosophies and movement made its presence felt during the 1905 Partition of Bengal. Arguably, the initial steps to organize the revolutionaries were taken by Aurobindo Ghosh, his brother Barin Ghosh, Bhupendranath Datta and Raja Subodh Mallik when they formed the Jugantar party in April 1906 . Jugantar was created as an inner circle of the Anushilan Samiti, which was already present in Bengalmarker mainly as a fitness club.


Anushilan Samiti

Established by Pramath Nath Mitra in Kolkatamarker in 1902, Anushilan Samity became one of the most organized revolutionary associations , especially in the Eastern Bengalmarker where the Dhakamarker Anushilan Samiti had several branches and carried out major activities . Jugantar was initially formed by an inner circle of the Kolkata Anushilan Samiti, like the Palmach of Haganah. In the 1920s, the Kolkata faction supported Gandhi in the Non-Cooperation Movement and many of the leaders held high posts in Congress.


Barin Ghosh was the main extremist leader. Along with 21 revolutionaries including Bagha Jatin, he started to collect arms and explosives and manufactured bombs. The headquarters of Jugantar was located at 93/a Baubazar Street, Kolkatamarker.

Some senior members of the group were sent abroad for political and military training. One of them, Hemchandra Qanungo obtained his training in Paris. After returning to Kolkatamarker he set up a combined religious school and bomb factory at a garden house in Maniktala suburb of Calcuttamarker. However, the attempted murder of district Judge Kingsford of Muzaffarpurmarker by Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki (30 April 1908) initiated a police investigation that led to the arrest of many of the revolutionaries.
Jatindranath Mukherjee (Bagha Jatin) in 1910
Bagha Jatin was one of the top leaders in Jugantar. He was arrested, along with several other leaders, in connection with the Howrah conspiracy case. They were tried for treason, the charge being that they had incited various regiments of the army against the ruler.

Jugantar, along with other revolutionary groups, and aided by Indians abroad, planned an armed revolt against the British rulers during the First World War. This plan largely depended on the clandestine landing of Germanmarker arms and ammunitions in the Indian coast. This plan came to be known as the Indo-German Plot. However, the planned revolt did not materialize.

After the First World War Jugantar supported Gandhi in the Non-Cooperation Movement and many of their leaders were in the Congress. Still, the group continued its revolutionary activities, a notable event being the Chittagong armoury raid.

Bengal Volunteers

Bengal Volunteers was a group formed by Subhash Chandra Bose during the Kolkatamarker session of Indian National Congress in 1928 to help the organisation of the session. However, afterwards the group turned into a revolutionary group with notable revolutionaries like Benoy-Badal-Dinesh being its members.


Hindustan Socialist Republican Association

Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) was established in October 1924 in Kanpurmarker by revolutionaries like Ramprasad Bismil, Jogesh Chatterjee, Chandrashekhar Azad, Yogendra Shukla and Sachindranath Sanyal. The aim of the party was to organize armed revolution to end the colonial rule and establish in a Federal Republic of the United States of India. The Kakori train robbery was a notable act of mutiny by this group. The Kakori case led to the hanging of Ashfaqullah Khan, Ramprasad Bismil, Roshan Singh, Rajendra Lahiri. The Kakori case was a major setback for the group. However, the group was soon reorganized under the leadership of Chandrashekhar Azad and with members like Bhagat Singh, Bhagwati Charan Vohra and Sukhdev on 9 and 10 September 1928- and the group was now christened Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).

In Lahoremarker on 17 December 1928, Bhagat Singh, Azad and Rajguru assassinated Saunders, a police official involved in deadly lathi-charge on Lala Lajpat Rai. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb inside the Central Legislative Assembly. The Assembly Bomb Case trial followed. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged in March 1931.

South India

The uprising against the British was evidenced at Halagali (Mudhol taluk of Bagalkot district). The prince of Mudhol, Ghorpade had accepted British overlordship. But the Bedas (hunters), a marshal community, were seething with dissatisfaction under the new dispensation. The British proclaimed the Disarming Act of 1857 whereby men possessing fire arms had to register them and secure a license before November 10, 1857. Babaji Nimbalkar, a soldier thrown out of job from Satara Court, had advised these people not to loose their hereditary right to own arms.

One of the leaders of the Bedas, Jadgia was invited by the administrator at Mudhol and was persuaded to secure a license on November 11, though Jadgia had not asked for it. The administrator’s expectation that others would follow Jadgia was belied. So he sent his agents to Halagali on November 15, 20 and again on 21. But the entreaties of the agents did not succeed, and the agents sent on November 21 were attacked by Jadgia and Baalya, another leader and they were forced to return. Another agent sent on November 25 was not allowed to enter the village.

Meanwhile, the Bedas and other armed men from the neighbouring villages of Mantur, Boodni and Alagundi assembled at Halagali. The administrator reported the matter to Major Malcolm, the Commander at the nearby army headquarters, who sent Col. Seton Karr to Halagali on November 29.

The insurgents, numbering 500 did not allow the British to enter Halagali. There was a fight during the night. On November 30, Major Malcolm came with 29th Regiment from Bagalkot. They set fire to the village and many insurgents, including Babaji Nimbalkar died. The British, who had a bigger army and better arms arrested 290 insurgents; and of these 29 were tried and 11 were hanged at Mudhol on December 11, and six others, including Jadagia and Baalya were hanged at Halagali on December 14, 1857. No prince or jagirdar was involved in this uprising, but it was the common soldiers.Violent revolutionary activities never took firm root in South India. The only violent act attributed to the revolutionaries was the assassination of Collector of Tirunelveli (Tinnevelly).On June 17, 1911, the Collector of Tirunelveli, Robert Ashe was killed by R. Vanchi Aiyer, who subsequently committed suicide. This was the only instance of a political assassination by a revolutionary in South India.

Outside India

India House

The India House was an informal Indian nationalist organisation that existed in Londonmarker between 1905 and 1910. Initially begun by Shyamji Krishna Varma as a residence in Highgate, in NorthLondon, for Indian students to promote nationalist views and work, the house became a centre for intellectual political activities, and rapidly developed to be an organisation that became a meeting ground for radical nationalists among Indian students in Britainmarker at the time, and of the most prominent centres for revolutionary Indian nationalism outside India. The Indian Sociologist published by the house was a noted platform for anti-colonial work and was banned in India as "seditious literature".

The India house was the beginnings of a number of noted Indian revolutionaries and nationalists, most famously V.D. Savarkar, as well as others of the like of V.N. Chatterjee, Lala Har Dayal, V.V.S. Iyer, M. P. T. Acharya who were, over the next decades, key members of revolutionary conspiracies in India as well as the founding fathers of Indian Communism. The house came to be the focus of Scotland Yardmarker's work against Indian sedetionists, as well as the focus of work for the nascent Indian Political Intelligence Office. India house ceased to be potent organisation after it's liquidation in the wake of the assassination of William Hutt Curzon Wyllie by a member of the India House by the name of Madan Lal Dhingra. This event marked the beginnings of London Police's crackdown on the activities of the house and a number of its activists and patrons, including Shyamji Krishna Varma and Bhikaji Cama moved to Europe from where they carried on works in support of Indian nationalism. Some Indian students, including Har Dayal, moved to the United Statesmarker. The network that the House founded was key in the nationalist revolutionary conspiracy in India during World War I.

Ghadar Party

Ghadar party was a predominantly Sikh organization that started operating abroad in 1913 "with the view to do-away with the British rule in India".. The party collaborated with revolutionaries inside India and helped them get arms and ammunition. Lala Hardayal was a prominent leader of the party. The Komagata Maru incident in 1914 inspired several thousand Indians residing in the USA to sell their businesses and rush home in order to participate in the anti-British activities in Indiamarker. The party had active members in Indiamarker, Mexicomarker, Japanmarker, Chinamarker, Singaporemarker, Thailandmarker, Philippinesmarker, Malaya, Indo-China and Eastern and Southern Africa. During World War I, it was amongst the chief pariticipants of the Hindu German Conspiracy.

Berlin Committee

The "Berlin committee for Indian independence" was established in 1915 by Virendra Nath Chattopadhya, including Bhupendra Nath Dutt & Lala Hardayal under "Zimmerman plan" with the full backing of German foreign office.

Their goal was mainly to achieve the following four objectives:

1: Mobilize Indian revolutionaries abroad.2: Incite rebellion among Indian troops stationed abroad.3: Send volunteers and arms to India.4: Even to Organized an armed invasion of British India to liberate the country.


Pre World War I

Alipore bomb conspiracy case

Several leaders of the Jugantar party including Aurobindo Ghosh were arrested in connection with bomb-making activities in Kolkatamarker. Several of the activists were deported to the Andaman Cellular Jailmarker.

Howrah gang case

Most of the eminent Jugantar leaders including Bagha Jatin alias Jatindra Nath Mukherjee who were not arrested earlier, were arrested in 1910, in connection with the murder of Shamsul Alam. Thanks to Bagha Jatin's new policy of a decentralised federated action, most of the accused were released in 1911.

Delhi-Lahore conspiracy case

The Delhi Conspiracy case, also known as the Delhi-Lahore Conspiracy,hatched in 1912, planned to assassinate the then Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge, on the occasion of transferring the capital of British India from Calcuttamarker to New Delhimarker. Involving revolutionary underground in Bengalmarker and headed by Rashbehari Bose, the conspiracy culminated on the attempted assassination on 23 December 1912 when a home-made bomb was thrown into the Viceroys's Howdah when the ceremonial procession moved through the Chandni Chowk suburb of Delhimarker. The Viceroy escaped with his injuries, along with Lady Hardinge, although the Mahout was killed.

In the aftermath of the event, efforts were made to destroy the Bengali and Punabi revolutionary underground, which came under intense pressure for sometime. Rash Behari successfully evaded capture for nearly three years, becoming actively involved in the Ghadar conspiracy before it was uncovered, and fleeing to Japanmarker in 1916.

The investigations in the aftermath of the assassination attempt led to the Delhi Conspiracy trial. Although Basant Kumar Biswas was convicted of having thrown the bomb and executed, along with Amir Chand and Avadh Behari for their roles in the conspiracy, the true identity of the person who threw the bomb is not known to this day.

World War I

Indo-German Conspiracy

The Indo-German Conspiracy, also referred to as the Hindu-German Conspiracy or the Ghadar conspiracy (or Ghadr conspiracy), was formulated during World War I between Indian Nationalists in Indiamarker, United Statesmarker and Germanymarker, the Irish Republicans, and the German Foreign office to initiate a Pan-Indian rebellion against The Raj with German support between 1914 and 1917, during World War I. The most famous amongst a number of plots planned to foment unrest and trigger a Pan-Indian mutiny in February 1915, in the British Indian Army from Punjab to Singaporemarker, to overthrow The Raj in the Indian subcontinent. This conspiracy was ultimately thwarted at the last moment as British intelligence successfully infiltrated the Ghadarite movement and arrested key figures. The failed Singapore mutiny remains a famous part of this plot while mutinies in other smaller units and garrisons within Indiamarker were also crushed.

World War I began with an unprecedented outpouring of loyalty and goodwill towards the United Kingdom from within the mainstream political leadership, contrary to initial British fears of an Indian revolt. India contributed massively to the British war effort by providing men and resources. About 1.3 million Indian soldiers and labourers served in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, while both the Indian government and the princes sent large supplies of food, money, and ammunition. However, Bengalmarker and Punjab remained hotbeds of anti colonial activities. Terrorism in Bengal, increasingly closely linked with the unrests in Punjab, was significant enough to nearly paralyse the regional administration. With outlines of German links with the Indian revolutionary movement already in place as early as 1912, the main conspiracy was formulated between the Ghadar Party in United States, the Berlin Committee in Germany, Indian revolutionary underground in India, Sinn Féin and the German Foreign Officemarker through the consulate in San Franciscomarker at the beginning of World War I. A number of failed attempts were made at mutiny, among them the February mutiny plan and the Singapore mutiny. This movement was suppressed by means of a massive international counter-intelligence operation and draconian political acts (including the Defence of India act 1915) that lasted nearly ten years. Other notable events that formed a part of the conspiracy include the Annie Larsen arms plot, the Mission to Kabul that also attempted to rally Afghanistan against British India. The Mutiny of the Connaught Rangers in India, as well as by some accounts, the Black Tom explosionmarker in 1916 are also considered minor events linked to the conspiracy.

The Indo-Irish-German alliance and the conspiracy were the target of a worldwide intelligence effort by the British intelligence agencies which was ultimately successful in preventing further attempts and plans, and in the aftermath of the Annie Larsen affair, successfully directed the American intelligence agencies to arrest key figures at the time she entered World War I in 1917. The conspiracy led to the Lahore conspiracy case in India and the Hindu German Conspiracy Trial in the USAmarker, of which the latter at the time was one of the longest and most expensive trials in that country.Largely subdued and suppressed by the end of the war, the movement posed a significant threat to British India during World War I and its aftermath, and was a major factor guiding The Raj's India policy.

Tehrek e Reshmi Rumal

During the war, the Pan-Islamist movement also attempted to overthrow the Raj, and came to form a close liaison with the Indo-German Conspiracy. Out of the Deobandi movement arose the Tehrek-e-Reshmi Rumal. The Deobandimarker leaders attempted to begin a pan-Islamic insurrection in British India during World War I by seeking support from Ottoman Turkey, Imperial Germanymarker, Afghanistanmarker. The plot was uncovered by Punjab CID with the capture of letters from Ubaidullah Sindhi, one of the Deobandi leaders then in Afghanistanmarker, to Mahmud al Hasan another leaders then in Persia. The letters were written in Silk cloth, hence the name of the Silk Letter Conspiracy.

Between the wars

Chittagong armory raid

Surya Sen led the attempt to raid the armoury of police and auxiliary forces in Chittagongmarker on 18 April 1930. Some attackers were soon killed or arrested in a gun-fight with the police.Pritilata Waddedar led the attack on Europran club in Chittagong in 1932. Surya Sen was arrested in 1933 and was hanged on 8 January 1934.

Central Assembly Bomb Case (1929)

Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt bombed in the assembly and threw leaflets stating their revolutionary philosophy. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged and several other faced the verdict of imprisonment. Batukeshwar Dutt outlived all his comrades and died in July 1965 in Delhi. All of them cremated in ferozpur (Punjab,India).

Baikuntha Shukla, the great nationalist was hanged for murdering Phanindrananth Ghosh who had become a government approver which led to hanging of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. He was a nephew of Yogendra Shukla. Baikunth Shukla was also initiated into the freedom struggle at a young age taking active part in the 'Salt Satyagraha' of 1930. He was associated with revolutionary organisations like the Hindustan Seva Dal and Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. The execution of the great Indian revolutionaries Bhagat Singh,Rajguru and Sukhdev in 1931 as a result of their trial in the 'Lahore conspiracy case' was an event that shook the entire country. Phanindra Nath Ghosh, hitherto a key member of the Revolutionary Party had treacherously betrayed the cause by turning an approver, giving evidence, which led to the execution. Baikunth was commissioned to plan the execution of Ghosh as an act of ideological vendetta which he carried out successfully on 9 November 1932. He was arrested and tried for the killing. Baikunth was convicted and hanged in Gayamarker Central Jail on May 14, 1934. He was only 28 years old.

On 27 February, 1931, Chandrasekar Azad was killed in a gunfight with the police.

It is unclear of the eventual fate of the Association, but the common understanding is that it disbanded with the death of Chandrashekar Azad and the hanging of its popular activists: Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.

Dalhousie Square Bomb Case

A bomb was thrown on the Calcutta Police Commissioner, Charles Tegart on 25 August,1930.

Kakori train robbery

Chandrasekhar Azad, Ramprasad Bismil, Jogesh Chatterjee, Ashfaqullah Khan, Banwari lal and their accomplices participated in the robbery of treasury money that was being transported by train. The looting took place between Kakori station and Alamnagar, within of Lucknowmarker on 9 August,1925. Police started an intense man-hunt and arrested a large number of rebels and tried them in the Kakori case. Ashfaqullah Khan, Ramprasad Bismil, Roshan Singh, Rajendra Lahiri were hanged, four others were sent to the Cellular Jailmarker in Port Blairmarker, Andaman for life and seventeen others were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.

World War II

The scenario changed with the years. The British were thinking to quit India and religious politics came into play. The basic political background of revolutionary ideas seemed to evolve in a new direction. The organized revolutionary movements can be said to have nearly ceased by 1936, apart from some stray sparks, like the killing of Sir Michael O'Dwyer, generally held responsible for the Amritsar Massacre, on 13 March 1940, by Udham Singh in London.

During the Quit India movement of 1942, several other activities took place in different parts of Indiamarker. However, those were discrete occurrences and hardly any large scale planned terrorism took place that could shake the British administration. Meanwhile, Subhas Chandra Bose was organising an Indian National Army outside India and leading the army towards India, while at the same time the Congress was negotiating with the British. Finally India was free on 15 August 1947, virtually by non-violence against the British but, unfortunately, with lots of bloodshed, rioting and violence among the fellow countrymen (and near-future neighbours) during the partition, which was quite shocking to the past revolutionaries and also to Gandhi.

Many revolutionaries participated in mainstream politics and joined political parties like the Congress and, especially, the communist parties and took part in the parliamentary democracy that was India. On the other hand, many past revolutionaries, being released from captivity, led the lives of common men.

Non-cooperation movement

It was started by Mahatma Ghandhi with the help of the congress leaders. It was started Calcutta in 1920 the movement had two types of objectives - constructive & destructive. in the first place Mahatma Ghandhi started constructive program by popularising Khadhi or hand woven cloth to attain self-reliance. Secondly, the destructive aspect of the movement include boycott of British goods,legislatures,law courts,banks,offices,and educational institutions; and renunciation of titles and honour given by the British.

It struggled up to 1922 after that it was stopped by Gandhi because of a bad incidence in which some people who took part in the movement set a police station on fire in which many police officers were killed. Gandhi ji was of opinion no violence should be there in the movement. he became angry so, he stopped the movement.

Notable revolutionaries

See also


  1. Banglapedia article by Mohammad Shah
  2. Banglapedia article by Chitta Ranjan Misra and Mohammad Shah
  3. The major charge... during the trial (1910–1911) was "conspiracy to wage war against the King-Emperor" and "tampering with the loyalty of the Indian soldiers" (mainly with the 10th Jats Regiment) (cf: Sedition Committee Report, 1918)
  4. Rowlatt Report
  5. First Spark of Revolution by A.C. Guha, pp. 424-434.
  6. Gateway of India article
  7. Study of Sikhism and Punjabi migration by Bruce La Brack, University of bcbPacifica, Stockton, California
  8. Pan-Islam in British Indian Politics: A Study of the Khilafat Movement, 1918-1924.(Social, Economic and Political Studies of the Middle East and Asia). M. Naeem Qureshi. pp. 79, 80, 81, 82.
  9. Sufi Saints and State Power: The Pirs of Sind, 1843-1947. Sarah F. D. Ansari, p. 82

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