‘Masterda’ Surya Sen was the chief architect of the uprising against the Britishers in Chittagong. The uprising under his leadership was one of the most organized armed uprisings that India saw during the freedom struggle. Even today the heroics of Surya Sen and his comrades are well-remembered and celebrated.
In fact, Bollywood also had come up with movies to honor the memories and supreme sacrifice made by these freedom fighters. However, keeping up with Bollywood’s tradition of a complete lack of restraint, they came with 2 movies almost at the same time. The movies named “Khele Hum Jee Jaan se” and “Chittagong” had Abhishek Bachchan and Manoj Bajpai in lead, respectively.
The uprising in Chittagong is not only a golden chapter in Indian freedom struggle but it had a very different character and philosophy as well.
1) Extensive Planning and a well carved strategy
The siege at Chittagong was well planned and well-orchestrated. Surya Sen took learnings from experiences of various revolutionaries around the world to create a strategy which could bring British administration to its knees. It wasn’t only an armoury raid but a revolutionary insurrection which left the British running for cover.
Masterda’s troops known as “Indian Republican Army” first captured the armoury and then severed all links with the outside world by disconnecting telephone, telegraph and Railway links. They continued the siege for 4 days before taking shelter in the Jalalabad Hills.
2) Extensive and enthusiastic women participation
Another novelty of the uprising was the active participation of women. This legacy later continued with ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ created by Subhash Chandra Bose. Until then, freedom movement had been a limited affair of men but this revolution brought a positive change on this front. Masterda encouraged women to actively participate in the movement and fight alongside men.
3) Guerrilla warfare
The revolutionary corps formed by Surya Sen achieved victory twice in face to face battle against the British forces. But, they knew in order to prolong their fight, they would have to retort to guerrilla warfare.
The troops went into hiding in the adjacent hills in the rural areas and continued their fight for four years from 1930 to 34.
4) Social inclusion
Surya Sen was not only a great commander but an accomplished social leader too. He took the movement to the masses instead of secluding it to a particular class of society. This mobilised more people for the cause.
5) Master of Disguise
Surya Sen was a fugitive for the British police and hence they constantly followed the revolutionary. While hiding at the house of Savitri Devi, he was surrounded by military force under Captain Cameron. A gun battle ensued in which captain Cameron was killed and Masterda along with Pritalata Waddader and Kalpana Dutta escaped without being hurt. Later he frequently changed his place of stay and disguised himself as farmer, milkman, worker, priest etc. to avoid being captured.
Wife of Masterda’s betrayer ensured that he was punished
Surya Sen’s luck ran out when his comrade Netra Sen betrayed him for money and sold his whereabouts to the British police for Rs. 10000/-. Netra Sen’s wife was mortified by her husband’s betrayal. When Netra Sen was murdered by one of the revolutionaries, she didn’t disclose the name of the murderer to the police despite being present at the crime scene. She believed that anyone who had betrayed a leader like Surya Sen deserved it.
Masterda was arrested and tortured brutally. He died on Jan 12, 1934 in Chittagong prison after being hung till death. His sacrifice will surely not be forgotten and will be remembered by generations of Indians. Here is the farewell letter that he wrote from Chittagong Jail to his followers.