Permanent spring: Seminar # 607, March 2010
ON 30 April 1908, two young men, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose, entered the boundary of the Muzaffarpur Club in Bihar and waited for the hated judge Douglas Kingsford to appear. They were members of Jugantar, the foremost nationalist-revolutionary group to emerge during the Swadeshi movement in Bengal. At nightfall a horse-drawn carriage emerged, which they were sure was carrying Kingsford. A bomb was hurled into it, blowing away the rear, and severely wounding the wife and daughter of Pringle-Kennedy, a lawyer friend of the judge. He also happened to be sympathetic to Indian nationalism. Kingsford was travelling separately. Severely wounded, the daughter was dragged behind the carriage and died within the hour. Her mother died two days later. Soon afterwards, Chaki committed suicide. Khudiram was caught, and after a swift trial, hanged that August. The nationalist hagiography of these pioneering revolutionaries mentions the failure of their mission, but glosses over it to focus on their glorious sacrifice..
In 1912, a bomb thrown at Lord Minto in Delhi killed not the Viceroy, but an Indian attendant. On 9 October 1915, Deputy Superintendent of Police Jatindra Mohan Ghosh was sitting in his house in Mymensingh along with his family. Some youths came to the door and fired at him, killing him on the spot. His three year old son, whom he was holding, was also killed. In 1932, in an attack on the Pahartali European Railway Club in Chittagong, thirteen card-playing civilians were injured and an Anglo-Indian woman killed. The action was led by a schoolteacher, Pritilata Waddadar, who committed suicide. Waddadar was an associate of the legendary Surya Sen. She was hailed as an exemplary patriot, which indeed she was. So were Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki. And so was Charu Mazumdar, the founder of what is known as Naxalism.
A century later, we are in the same place. In June 2005, over 40 bus passengers died in a mine explosion in Nepal’s Chitwan district. The Nepali Maoists’ apology for this carnage must be set against the fact that the blast was wire-triggered – detonated by someone who could see the passenger-laden vehicle. On 15 August 2004, the CPI-Maoist shot nine persons in Andhra Pradesh, including a legislator, his son, driver and an employee. On 12 September 2005, its cadre slit the throats of 17 villagers in Giridih. In March 2006, 13 tribals were killed and four injured in a mine blast. The Maoists apologized, stating that it was due to a failure in their intelligence.
On 25 February 2006, 25 tribals were killed and 40 injured in a mine triggered by the CPI (Maoist) in Errabore, Dantewada. In July 2006, the CPI (Maoist) attacked a relief camp in the same place, killing 30 tribals, including children. A party spokesperson referred to the children’s deaths as an ‘unnecessary loss’. But he continued: ‘No people’s war can be so clinical as to have no civilian casualty …no class war can be conducted with clinical precision. It is very tortuous and painful, just as the daily life of the bulk of our population is no less agonizing.’ It is a moot point as to whether the rest of the victims were class enemies who deserved nothing less than death…