About Khudiram Bose - The 18 year old revolutionary

    Know about his early childhood, revolutionary activities and sacrifice for India’s freedom.  

When the judge asked Khudiram if he regretted his anti-crown activities, the 18 year old boy replied “NO” in a loud and clear voice. 


That boy, the “First Indian to use any dangerous product of modern science against the British,” remained cheerful and smiling during all proceedings and accepted death with a smile. He was Khudiram Bose (KB), the second youngest revolutionary in India. 

British rule in India was never liked by the majority. Maharashtra, Punjab and Bengal became a hotbed for revolutionary activities which inspired the common man against the British. Revolutionary activities in Bengal became fiercer after the establishment of Anushilan Samiti. It produced numerous revolutionaries who shook the roots of British rule by their daring acts and executions of British officials.

Khudiram Bose, was born on 3 December 1889, in Habibpur, a small village in Medinipur. He was son of Trilokyanath and Lakshmipriyadevi. His father Trilokyanath was a Tehsildar or Revenue officer in Narajol Raj Estate. He had three sisters and was closer to his elder sister Aparupa Devi. Khudiram lost his parents at the age of six. His elder sister Aparupa, who loved him like her son, brought him with her in Hathgachhia village. He was admitted to a school at Tamluk in 1901 and later to Midnapore Collegiate School in 1903. Khudiram was of a calm nature and loved by everyone.


During that time, Cholera epidemic wrecked havoc in Midnapore. No one is willing to help. Then Khudiram selflessly nursed patients. He and sister’s son Lalit, who was about the same age, were admitted in a new school with the hope that they would concentrate on studies. In the school, he came into contact with three teachers - Upendra Nath Chandra (Headmaster), Ramchandra Sen (Drillmaster), and Gyanendra Basu (elder brother of Satyendra Nath Basu). Rajnarayan Basu was headmaster of this school in the past. In this school Khudiram studied up to class VIII i.e. till August 1905. KB was influenced by Satyendra Nath Basu.

KB was already under the influence of revolutionary ideas but the turning point came during the Partition of Bengal. Partition was announced in July 1905. All of Bengal united and anti British agitations started. The Swadeshi Movement started in October 1905 and soon became popular. KB joined Anushilan Samiti. They were trained in using stick, knife and sword.

KB became the foremost and uncompromising Swadwshi supporter who was determined to uproot foreign goods. Due to his efforts foreign goods disappeared from the local market. On some occasions shopkeepers were forced to get rid of foreign goods. He became famous for his zeal to boycott foreign goods.  


Once KB got to know that a shopkeeper, despite repeated requests and warnings, smuggled foreign clothes. Khudiram went to the place where these goods were stocked, with a match and bottle of kerosene put the entire stock on fire. He joined Satyen Basu’s handloom factory which was the meeting point of all revolutionaries. Satyen Da also opened Chhatra Bhandar which sold only Swadwshi goods. This worked as a center of meeting for young revolutionaries.


Police admitted that, as a result of the establishment of Chhatra Bhandar, there were many cases of arson, riots and assault in Midnapore. Another meeting centre of revolutionaries was the Kali Temple where youngsters took oath to serve the motherland by putting Tilak of blood of sacrificed goat on their forehead. Khudiram was in the forefront of all such activities. He was soon arrested and kept in jail for few days in 1906.


KB came to Calcutta as he was closely watched by Midnapore police. His brother in law, Amrit Lai, was facing problems due to Khudiram’s activities. Here KB came in contact with Aurobindo, Barin Ghosh, Kanai Lai Datta, Upendra Bandopadhyay, Ullaskar Datta and other revolutionaries. The anti-partition movement lost its momentum by now and the revolutionaries were getting desperate to do something. 

Bomb attack on the British  

Meanwhile, the Government machinery was ruthlessly inflicting severe punishment on them. The government suppression began in 1906. In those days, the most hated man among the revolutionaries was Kingsford who found pleasure in giving severest punishment to revolutionaries. Kingsford, as Chief Presidency Magistrate of Calcutta, from August 1904 to March 1908, had inflicted merciless punishment on all patriots. To teach Kingsford a lesson the revolutionary organization decided to kill him.


In early 1908, Barindra Kumar Ghosh, a prominent leader of the Jugantar group, decided to send Prafulla Chaki to Muzaffarpur where Kingsford had been transferred. This was a difficult job and when Khudiram Bose came to know about this plan, he showed his eagerness to be a part of this execution. Barindra Kumar Ghosh was not convinced but was persuaded by Hemchandra Das Kanungo, a revolutionary leader of Midnapore who knew Khudiram well. So KB accompanied Prafulla Chaki.


Both were given bombs, revolvers and pistols from Manicktalla Bagan’s stock of arms. Khudiram was told to reach Hemchandra Kanungo’s residence at Maniktala. Thus, Prafulla Chaki and KB moved out of Calcutta to commit “the first distinctly political murder in Bengal.” Both of them were given secret code names. Durgadas Sen was the name for KB and Dinesh Chandra was the name for Prafulla. 


Prafulla and Khudiram reached Muzaffarpur in the third week of April 1908 and stayed in a local Dharmashala. They were helped by some local people. According to one source, when they ran short of funds, an influential employee of a local zamindar helped them. This sympathiser also helped them in getting accommodation in a Dharmashala. They waited, for a week, for a suitable opportunity.


Kingsford usually did not go anywhere else other than the court. Ultimately, they came to know that Kingsford left the club for home at 8.30 pm.  The time seemed suitable as this would give them opportunity of leaving the place of action in the darkness of night. While Prafulla and Khudiram were waiting in ambush Kingsford and his wife were playing bridge with Mrs and Mr Kennedy till 8.30 pm. Kennedys and Kingsfords left the place in similar looking carriages.


As one of these two cars approached, Khudiram and Prafulla sprang out from the shadow of one of the tall trees. According to a source, Khudiram and Prafulla had in their possession three revolvers and one bomb. When the car reached to them, Khudiram ran towards the carriage and threw the bomb with full force at the carriage.


Unfortunately, Kingsford was not in the carriage on which Khudiram threw the bomb. The bomb killed the daughter and wife of a local Barrister Pringle Cannedy. This act of Khudiram, a boy of 18 years of age, made him a hero in the annals of Indian revolutionary movement.


This daring act might have failed to meet its immediate objective of killing the enemy i.e. Kingsford but it served a greater purpose. It made an emphatic statement that the Britishers were the enemy of this nation and the youth of this country were ready to make any effort to punish those who would dare come in their way.


Khudiram and Prafulla disappeared in the dark. Soon, they realised that if they escape together people could get suspicious. So, they decided to go in different directions. Prafulla Chaki moved towards Samastipur and KB decided to follow the railway line towards Calcutta. KB hoped that he would catch any train bound to Calcutta. With this hope he walked barefoot a distance of 20 miles to reach Waini station.  


In the morning of 1st May, at around 8 amg, he reached a market near the station very hungry, thirsty and exhausted. Here he proceeded towards a tube-well to have some water. Then the police descended on him. They asked him many questions and Khudiram realised the gravity of situation. He tried to escape but the thin built exhausted young man of 18 years could not free himself from the policemen. He tried to take out the revolver from his pocket to fire but failed to do so as he was very tightly held. He was searched and two revolvers and some cartridges were found in his pockets. Kingsford got so frightened by these developments that he took long leave and left his place to hide himself and his family in far away Mussorie. Thereafter, nothing significant was heard about him in the administrative circles.


After 3 weeks of his arrest, British government put KB on trial. It started on May 25. All through the court trial till his execution in August KB was a great symbol of revolutionary courage. Various details of his behaviour and utterances clearly testify that he cared little for his life.  


In this hearing he was not apologetic at all and took the full responsibility for throwing the bomb. He added that he was unhappy that a person like Kingsford was still alive. His lawyer Kalidas Basu, a reputed lawyer of Muzaffarpur, was a very noble soul. He wanted to save the life of the young boy. He took no professional fee from his client. He advised KB not to take the responsibility for bomb throwing but KB did not listen to him. During all court proceedings, he displayed courage and refused to bow down to the crown.


When the judge asked that are you regretful for all your acts, to which he replied “I HAVE NO REGRETS.” KB was to be hanged on 11 August, 1908 at 6 in the morning. 


KB was a hero for thousands of Indians. In Calcutta, his execution was mourned by thousands. On August 11 students of schools and colleges attended classes barefooted. Most of the students of Presidency and General Assembly College (later Scottish Church College) came to their colleges in mourning dress. Hindu School’s students also came barefooted. Many young men took vegetarian food on that day. 

Thus, “from being a calm , silent and most loved boy to the First Indian to use any dangerous product of modern science against British,” KB inspired millions of Indians against British rule.


Sadly, not many Indians know about Khudiram Bose.  


Whenever discussions about revolutionaries arise, focus on what they achieved and how they mass mobilized the general population against the crown. However, mainstream media and academia discuss either their ideological leaning or term them as terrorists. But in the minds of common Indians, these revolutionaries have a separate place of respect. That is where the memories, impact and influence of all revolutionaries Khudiram included truly lie.


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