• 30-May-2023


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Atul Chandra Gosh was born in 1881 in the Khandaghosh village in the Bardhaman district of present-day West Bengal. In 1908, Atul Chandra passed his law exams and began practising in the Purulia district. In 1920, the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi was sweeping the nation and whipping up patriotic sentiments. This inspired Atul Chandra Ghosh to quit his law practice and plunge into the freedom struggle.

The freedom struggle in Manbhum was led by Nibaran Chandra Dasgupta, the father in law of Atul Chandra Ghosh. Nibaran Chandra Dasgupta was arrested during the Non-Cooperation Movement. After his release, he joined hands with Atul Chandra to co-found Shilpashram, a grassroots organization that became the epicentre of the freedom struggle in the Manbhum district.

The British government introduced the Village Chaukidari Act in 1856 to collect taxes from the villagers for providing them with a night-watchman service. The chowkidars were disliked by the villagers as they acted as spies for the British government and were retainers for the local landlords. The Civil Disobedience Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 to break the Salt Laws found support in Eastern India. On 8th April 1930, a huge meeting was organized in Ranchi, as part of the National Civil Disobedience Movement, where Atul Chandra Ghosh, the secretary of the Manbhum District Satyagraha Committee, called upon the people to desist from paying the Chowkidari Tax. This ‘No Chowkidari Tax’ campaign, ultimately forced the chowkidars to resign.

In the wake of the Civil Disobedience Movement, several leaders from Manbhum who were associated with the movement were arrested. After their release, these leaders founded the Lok Sewak Sangha (LSS), a social reform organization aimed at uplifting the so-called untouchables and tribal people of the region. Atul Chandra Ghosh was both a leader of the LSS and one of the leaders of the District Congress Committee. On 9th August 1942, the Indian National Congress launched the Quit India movement. The activists of the LSS who were also a part of the Manbhum District Congress Committee were arrested immediately, and their office was sealed by the British government. Atul Chandra Ghosh, who was attending the All India Congress Committee meeting from the district was arrested along with his wife and daughter as soon as he returned home.

After India got independence in 1947, the district of Manbhum which had a large Bengali speaking population was made a part of the state of Bihar. As President of the Congress District Committee, Atul Chandra Ghosh moved a resolution to include Manbhum in West Bengal. His proposal was rejected, following which he resigned from the Congress party. In 1948, Atul Chandra Gosh, Bibhuti Dasgupta and others transformed the LSS from a social reform organization into a full-fledged political party, to build a mass movement for the inclusion of Manbhum in West Bengal.

Atul Chandra Gosh, the President of the LSS organized the ‘Bhasa Satyagraha’ throughout the district and later organized a long march called ‘Banga Satyagraha Abhijan’. He also became the editor of a journal ‘Mukti’, which was initially started by his father-in-law, and made it the voice of the Banga Satyagraha. The efforts of the LSS finally paid off when the States Reorganization Commission in 1953 agreed to their demands, and a new district of Purulia was carved out of Manbhum on 1st November 1956 and made part of West Bengal. For his role and contribution to the movement, Atul Chandra Ghosh was given the title 'Manbhum Kesari’. He died in the year 1969, leaving behind a legacy of social reforms and progressive politics. Labanya Prabha Ghosh, his wife, who was also a freedom fighter, continued as the editor of Mukti after his death.