Modern History Simplified: Revolutionary Activities in the 1920s in India

  1. The sudden withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement left many groups and individuals disillusioned. They began to question the basic strategy of nationalist leadership and its emphasis on non-violence.
  2. Since these younger nationalists were not attracted to the parliamentary work of the Swarajists or to the patient, undramatic, constructive work of the No-changers, they were drawn to the idea that violent methods alone would free India. Thus, revolutionary activity was revived.
  3. Other influences include
    1. Upsurge of working class trade unionism after the War; the revolutionaries wanted to harness the revolutionary potential of the new emergent class for nationalist revolution
    2. Russian Revolution (1917) and the success of the young Soviet state in consolidating itself.
    3. Journals publishing memoirs and articles extolling the self-sacrifice of revolutionaries, such as Atmasakti, Sarathi and Bijoli.
    4. Novels and books such as Bandi Jiwan by Sachin Sanyal and Pather Dabi by Sharatchandra Chatterjee
  4. In Punjab-United Provinces-Bihar
    1. This region was dominated by the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) 
    2. The HRA was founded in October 1924 in Kanpur by Ramprasad Bismil, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee and Sachin Sanyal.
    3. Its  aim was to organise an armed revolution to overthrow the colonial government and establish in its place the Federal Republic of United States of India whose basic principle would be adult franchise.
    4. The Kakori robbery in 1925 resulted in major leaders of the movement getting arrested or deported. 
    5. Under the leadership of Chandra Shekhar Azad, the name of HRA was changed to Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). HSRA decided to work under a collective leadership and adopted socialism as its official goal.
    6. The participants included Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Bhagwaticharan Vohra from Punjab and Bejoy Kumar Sinha, Shiv Verma and Jaidev Kapur from the United Provinces.
    7. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt were asked to throw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly on April 8, 1929 to protest against the passage of the Public Safety Bill and Trade Disputes Bill aimed at curtailing civil liberties of citizens and mainly the workers. 
    8. The objective was to get arrested and to use the trial court as a forum for propaganda so that people would become familiar with their movement and ideology. They wanted to let the people know about its changed objectives and the need for a revolution by the masses.
  5. In Bengal
    1. Many revolutionary groups cooperated with C.R. Das in his Swarajist work.
    2. After C.R.Das’s death (1925), the Bengal Congress broke up into two factions
      • Anushilan group led by J.M. Sengupta 
      • Yugantar group led by Subhash Chandra  Bose
    3. Chittagong Armoury Raid (April 1930) led by Surya Sen
      • Surya Sen said ”Humanism is a special virtue of a revolutionary.”
      • The raid was conducted under the banner of Indian Republican Army – Chittagong Branch.
      • Surya Sen was arrested in 1933. 
      • There was a large-scale participation of young women especially under Surya Sen.
      • Prominent women revolutionaries in Bengal during this phase included Pritilata Waddedar, who died conducting a raid. Also there was Kalpana Dutt who was arrested and tried along with Surya Sen and given a life sentence. In addition there was Santi Ghosh and Suniti Chandheri, school girls of Comilla, who shot dead the district magistrate and finally Bina Das who fired point blank at the governor while receiving her degree at the convocation.

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