• 07-Jun-2023


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Satyendranath Bose hailed from Midnapore (present-day West Bengal). Born on 30 July 1882, Satyendranath’s name first found itself in the police records, when, in the Midnapore Arms Case, he was caught possessing an unlicensed gun and subsequently served 2 months in jail.

Satyendranath Bose played an active role in the Nationalist movement in Bengal that protested against the British establishment. Distantly related to Aurobindo Ghose, he is most famous for an act of nationalism that ultimately nullified the legal threat posed to Aurobindo and others.

The incident dates back to 1908 and is famously known as the Alipore Bomb Case. A failed attempt to assassinate Magistrate Douglas Kingsford resulted in the authorities arresting more than twenty suspects, including Aurobindo. The British wanted to hang Aurobindo for his involvement, but lacked evidence. In the course of their detention and trial, one of the protestors who was arrested (Naren Goswami), turned approver in exchange for a full pardon. Goswami in his testimony incriminated Aurobindo and his team of agitators.

Satyendranath and Kanailal who had evaded arrest took matters into their own hands. They tracked Goswami who had been isolated by the authorities. They expressed a desire to join hands with him and also become approvers. This statement lured Goswami to meet them. On 31 August 1908, in the encounter that ensued, Satyendranath and Kanailal took out their previously smuggled-in revolvers and shot Goswami. A bullet from one of their revolvers ultimately brought about Goswami’s end. Justice was thus served by eliminating the traitor. The motive behind killing Goswami was more than just taking revenge. The law stipulated that a testimony in the Magistrate's Court could only be admitted as proof in the Sessions Court once the Defence had exercised its right to cross-examine the witness. By assassinating Goswami, the potentially incriminating evidence provided by him was rendered inadmissible in Court and hence the legal threat posed to Aurobindo and other revolutionaries was rescinded.

However, the British now trained their guns on Satyendranath and Kanailal. The trial for the killing of Goswami lasted only 2 days, and on 21 October 1908, while the court sentenced Kanailal to death by hanging, the same court ordered life imprisonment for Satyendranath. The British, who couldn’t prosecute Aurobindo wanted to see the end of Satyendranath. Hence, despite the order, the Sessions Judge went against the verdict of the jury and referred Satyendranath’s case to the High Court. It was here that he was convicted and sentenced to death. On 21 November 1908, Satyendranath Bose was executed for his act of insurrection to liberate the country from foreign rulers.

The execution of these valiant men in 1908 created an emotional upheaval amongst the people. In fact, the first-hand witness accounts of the final moments before they attained martyrdom, has given these young activists a permanent place in the annals of India’s freedom struggle.