On 8th April 1929, the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi, shook with the slogans “Inquilab Zindabad” (Long live the Revolution) raised by a 19 year old boy, a fearless companion of Shahid Bhagat Singh.
Batukeshwar Dutta was born on 18 November 1910 in Khandaghosh village of Burdwan district in the then Bengal Presidency and present day West Bengal. He studied at the Theosophical High School and graduated from Prithvinath College, Kanpur. In his college days, he came in contact with Shahid Bhagat Singh and was inspired by him to join the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. He was a member of the “Naujawan Bharat Sabha”.
As time went on, he became an active member of the Association and grew closer to Bhagat Singh. On the eventful day, Batukeshwar Dutta, along with Bhagat Singh, hurled two handmade bombs into the empty space of the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi. They shouted the slogan “Inquilab Zindabad” and showered leaflets from the audience gallery. The bomb blast was not aimed to harm anyone but to mark a powerful protest against the repressive bills aiming to curb freedom of speech, curtail civil liberties and rights of the workers. In their own words “if the deaf are to hear, the sound has to be very loud”
The iconic duo was arrested on the same day. They made no effort to escape as they wanted their voice to be heard. Dutta continued his fight for human rights even in prison. He joined Bhagat Singh in one of the longest ever hunger strikes, running up to 114 days, to support their demand for a better living standard for the prisoners. Their demands included providing the same dietary standard as that for European prisoners, access to books, reading materials, at least one standard daily newspaper, and separate wards for political prisoners. Dutta was sentenced to life imprisonment and was sent to the Andaman Cellular Jail. In Andaman, Dutta fought for the rights of the political prisoners, and took part in hunger strikes to protest against the inhumane treatment meted out by the authorities. Dutta was later shifted to Hazaribag jail, Delhi jail and Patna jail.
Dutta was released from Patna jail in 1938. He was suffering from several ailments including tuberculosis. Despite his frail health, he joined Gandhiji in the Quit India movement in 1942. He was again arrested and imprisoned for another four years. After his release from jail in 1947, post-independence, he moved to Patna. Dutta retired from active political life after that but continued to write articles.
Dutta’s health, which was fragile due to long stretches of imprisonment, hunger strikes, and torture, became worse. Dutta succumbed to cancer at AIIMS, Delhi on 20th July 1965. He was survived by his wife Mrs. Anjali Dutta and their daughter Bharati Bagchi (Dutta).
Honouring his last will, he was cremated at Hussainiwala, where Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev were laid to rest.
Dutta’s selfless dedication to his nation was perhaps inspired by Swami Vivekananda “The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.”