Children of midnight Jatindra Nath Das: Those 63 days!

MAJOR KULBIR SINGH. Dated: 1/20/2018 11:25:00 AM


‘In November 1925, while studying for a B.A. at Vidyasagar College in Calcutta, Das was arrested for his political activities and was imprisoned at the Mymensingh Central Jail. While interned there, he went on a hunger strike to protest the ill-treatment meted out to the political prisoners. After fasting for twenty days, the Jail Superintendent apologised and he gave up the fast. He was contacted by revolutionaries in other parts of India and agreed to participate in bomb-making for Bhagat Singh and comrades. Sachindra Nath Sanyal taught him how to make bombs.’

By Major Kulbeer Singh
Jatindra Nath Das (Bengali) (27 October 1904 – 13 September 1929), also known as Jatin Das, was an Indian independence activist and revolutionary. He died in Lahore jail after a 63-day hunger strike.
Jatindra Das was born in 1904 at Calcutta. He joined the Anushilan Samiti, a revolutionary group in Bengal, at a young age and also participated in Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation movement in 1921.
In November 1925, while studying for a B.A. at Vidyasagar College in Calcutta, Das was arrested for his political activities and was imprisoned at the Mymensingh Central Jail. While interned there, he went on a hunger strike to protest the ill-treatment meted out to the political prisoners. After fasting for twenty days, the Jail Superintendent apologised and he gave up the fast. He was contacted by revolutionaries in other parts of India and agreed to participate in bomb-making for Bhagat Singh and comrades. Sachindra Nath Sanyal taught him how to make bombs. On 14 June 1929 he was arrested for revolutionary activities and was imprisoned in Lahore jail to be tried under the supplementary Lahore Conspiracy Case.
In Lahore jail, Das began a hunger strike along with other revolutionary fighters, demanding equality for Indian political prisoners with those from Europe. The conditions of Indian inhabitants of the jails was deplorable. The uniforms that Indian prisoners were required to wear in jail with were not washed for several days, and rats and cockroaches roamed the kitchen area making the food unsafe to eat. Indian prisoners were not provided with any reading material such as newspapers, nor paper to write on. The condition of the British prisoners in the same jail was strikingly different.
Das’s hunger strike started on 13 July 1929 and lasted 63 days. The jail authority took measures to forcibly feed him and the other independence activist. Eventually, the jail committee recommended his unconditional release, but the government rejected the suggestion and offered to release him on bail. Jatin died on 13 September 1929. Durga Bhabhi led the funeral procession, which went from Lahore to Calcutta by train. Thousands of people rushed to the railway stations to pay homage to Das. A two-mile long procession in Calcutta carried the coffin to the cremation ground. It was Subhas Chandra Bose, who received the coffin of Das at Howrah Railway Station and led the funeral procession to the cremation ground. The hunger strike of Jatin Das in prison was one crucial moment in the resistance against illegal detentions.
After his death, the Viceroy informed London that “Mr Das of the Conspiracy Case, who was on hunger strike, died this afternoon at 1 p.m. Last night, five of the hunger strikers gave up their hunger strike. So there are only Bhagat Singh and Dutt who are on strike.”
Tributes were paid by almost every leader in the country. Mohammad Alam and Gopi Chand Bhargava resigned from the Punjab Legislative Council in protest. Motilal Nehru proposed the adjournment of the Central Assembly as a censure against the inhumanity of the Lahore prisoners. The censure motion was carried by 55 votes against 47. Jawaharlal Nehru said “Another name has been added to the long and splendid roll of Indian martyrs. Let us bow our heads and pray for strength to act to carry on the struggle, however long it may be and whatever consequences, till the victory is ours “. Subhas Chandra Bose described Das as the “young Dadhichee of India”, referring to the well known mythological yogi Dadhichee who sacrificed his life for the sake of killing a demon. In the 2002 film The Legend of Bhagat Singh, the character of Jatin Das was played by Amitabh Bhattacharjee . A 35-minute documentary film titled Immortal Martyr Jatin Das was released in 2009.
Jatindra nath das was actually arrested for the first time during his college days. During his study for B.A. at Vidyasagar College in kolkata, he got arrested due to his political activities. During his first imprisonment, he went on a hunger strike. The purpose was to protest against the ill-treatment of political prisoners. When is fast lasted twenty days, Jail Superintendent also had to apologize to him.
He was arrested as a part of Lahore conspiracy case in 1929 and was imprisoned in Lahore jail. During his stay in Lahore jail, Jatindra nath das saw the deplorable conditions of Indian political prisoners. Their uniforms were not washed for several days. The area where their food was prepared was infested with pests like rats and cockroaches. They were also not provided any reading or writing material. On the other hand, the British prisoners in same jail lived in much better conditions. That’s why he began a hunger strike to demand equality amongst political prisoners. Jatindra nath das died in Lahore jail after he continued his hunger strike for 63 days. When his body arrived, Durgawati devi (Durga Bhabhi) led the funeral procession. This procession went from Lahore to Kolkata by train. Thousands of people paid their respects to him. In Kolkata, a two-mile long procession happened and Subhash Chandra Bose received the coffin at Howrah Railway Station. He later led the procession to cremation ground.
Subhash Chandra Bose said that Jatindra nath das was the ‘young Dadhichee of India. He was referring to the mythological yogi who sacrificed his life for the greater good.

 

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