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Khudiram Bose Birth Anniversary: Why Was One of India’s Youngest Revolutionaries Sentenced to Death?

The legacy of Khudiram Bose, one of the youngest revolutionaries martyred in the Indian independence struggle, has long been limited to West Bengal. Bose’s story is set against the backdrop of the political environment and culture in 19th-century Bengal, where his fearless spirit found a purpose in the struggle for freedom. Inspired by public lectures delivered by Sri Aurobindo and Sister Nivedita, Bose moved towards revolutionary activities in the state.

These acts only intensified from this point onwards, with his attempt to assassinate Magistrate Douglas Kingsford eventually leading to his getting a death sentence.

Bose’s mind had been moulded into the revolutionary frame from his early adolescent years. He became active in protests against British rule, especially following the partition of Bengal in 1905. By 15, the Midnapore resident had become involved in structured revolutionary activities carried out by Bengal’s Anushilan Samit. By 16, he had learnt to make bombs, which he would then plant in front of police stations.

In 1908, the young revolutionary was assigned the task of assassinating Muzaffarpur’s District Magistrate, Douglas Kingsford. Kingsford was known for his clamping down on the revolutionaries quite strongly. Bose was to execute the plan to assassinate the official alongside his friend and fellow revolutionary, Prafulla Chandra Chaki. The two made plans and decided to kill Kingsford by throwing a bomb at his carriage. On April 30, 1908, Bose executed the plan.

However, the carriage he had targeted was actually carrying the wife and daughter of Barrister Pringle Kennedy. They lost their lives due to the actions of the two young revolutionaries, while Kingsford managed to escape.

Then began a game of cat and mouse and the Calcutta police hunted for the duo. Bose walked 25 miles and reached a railway station called Waini. This is where the police nabbed him. Chaki shot and killed himself to avoid capture.

Bose’s fearlessness was apparent as he walked to the carriage waiting to take him to jail. The young boy shouted “Vande Mataram” for the entire crowd collected there to hear. His trial began in May, 1908. Within two months, he was sentenced to death. The boy is known to have shown no fear in accepting the sentence and his deed. Bose was executed on August 11, 1908. He was a young boy of 18 at the time. Today, December 3, 2022 marks his 133rd birth anniversary.

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