• 24-May-2023

Baikuntha Shukla

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Baikuntha Shukla was born on 15 May 1910 in the Jalalpur village of the erstwhile Muzaffarpur District (now Vaishali) of North Bihar. He hailed from a family of freedom fighters. His uncle Yogendra Shukla was one of the founders of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA), and so he grew up in an environment where freedom from the British Raj was the main agenda. After completing his elementary education, he began teaching in a lower primary school at Mathurapur, situated 4kms away from Jalalpur.

In the early 1930s, he met Kishori Prasanna Singh and his wife Sunita Devi, who were active participants in the Salt Satyagraha Movement. Their ideas had a profound impact on young Baikuntha Shukla, and he eventually joined the fight for India’s freedom. He was jailed during the 1930 Civil Disobedience Movement, and while he was lodged in the Patna Camp Jail, he met Bibhuti Bhushan Das Gupta, whose revolutionary stories and recitation of Rabindranath Tagore's exuberant poetry stirred his nationalistic spirit. Post the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, Baikuntha and the other activists were released.

Meanwhile, due to a shift in their ideology Kishori Prasanna Singh and Sunita Devi joined the HSRA, which had Chandrasekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, and others as members. According to reports, Sunita Devi played a very important role in introducing Baikuntha to the revolutionaries, which resulted in a major transformation of his perspective towards the freedom movement. He believed that freedom could be achieved only through an 'uncompromising revolutionary struggle'.

Bhagat Singh's vigour and bravery influenced Baikuntha to a great extent, and he espoused the revolutionary thoughts and views of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru. The execution of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru shook the nation, and the youth across the country began to question the passive policies of Gandhiji. An enraged Baikuntha desperately wanted to take revenge. The freedom struggle was at the cusp of an ideological clash.

The HSRA decided to avenge the death of the three fearless revolutionaries. Kishori Prasanna and his accomplices held a meeting at Gandhi Ashram near Hajipur station. Almost everybody volunteered for the task. After much deliberation, Baikuntha Shukla's name appeared in a lottery, and he took it upon himself to 'punish' Ghosh, who was seen as a traitor and whose testimony had led to the arrest and execution of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru.

On 9 November 1932, Baikuntha Shukla and his associate Chandrama Singh shot Phanindranath Ghosh. Though they escaped, eventually Chandrama was arrested in Kanpur on 05 Jan 1933, and Baikuntha was arrested on 6 July 1933 near Hazipur Bridge.

Baikuntha was put on trial and subsequently convicted of murder. On 14 May 1934, he was hanged at the Gaya Central Prison. An eyewitness account by his comrade Bibhuti Bhushan Das Gupta states that when Baikuntha was led to the gallows, he was heard singing:

Haasi haasi parab phaansi/ Maan dekhabe Bharatbaasi/ Biday de maan phire aasi!

(Laughing I would go to the gallows/ O Mother, people of India will see/ Bid me farewell Mother, I shall come again!)