Alipore bomb case
The Alipore Bomb Case (or Alipore bomb conspiracy or Alipore bomb trial) was an important court trial, during May 1908 to May 1909, in the history of the Indian Independence Movement. The trial involved more than 37 suspects, following a bomb attack, and was held in Alipore Sessions Court, in Calcutta, India, Judge C. P. Beachcroft presiding.
When Bengal was partitioned, it sparked an outburst of public anger against the British. The anger led to civil unrest and a nationalist campaign was carried out by groups of revolutionaries, led by Aurobindo Ghosh (Arabindo Ghosh), Rasbihari Bose and Bagha Jatin and organized into groups like Yugantar. Hemchandra Kanungo provided the technical knowhow of making the bomb. The British cracked down hard on the activists and the conflict came to a head on April 30, 1908 when Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki attempted to kill Magistrate Kingsford, a judge known for handing down particularly harsh sentences against nationalists. However, the bomb thrown at his horse carriage missed its target and instead landed in another carriage and killed two British women, the wife and daughter of barrister Pringle Kennedy.
On May 2, 1908, police arrested an initial 33 suspects. The local police immediately raided a property of Aurobindo Ghosh. His writings and letters were confiscated by the police. The Maniktala garden premises where Barin and other activists had been training was also raided. Along with many activists, Aurobindo Ghosh was also arrested on charges of planning and overseeing the attack and imprisoned in solitary confinement in Alipore Jail. After an intense manhunt, Khudiram Bose was arrested, although Prafulla Chaki shot himself rather than fall into the hands of the police. The trial soon began - 49 people stood accused, 206 witnesses were called, around 400 documents were filed with the court, and more than 5000 exhibits were produced including bombs, revolvers, and acids. The trial continued for a year (1908-1909), and Bose was found guilty and later hanged. Aurobindo Ghosh, however, was defended by the young lawyer Chittaranjan Das, who concluded his defence:
- My appeal to you is this, that long after the controversy will be hushed in silence, long after this turmoil, the agitation will have ceased, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone, his words will be echoed and re-echoed, not only in India but across distant seas and lands. Therefore, I say that the man in his position is not only standing before the bar of this Court, but before the bar of the High Court of History.
- to death Barindra Ghosh and Ullaskar Dutt under Sections 121, 121 A, 122 Penal Code; but sentences were commuted to life in prison, and both released in 1920;
- to transportation for life and forfeiture all property Upendra Nath Banerjee, Bibhuti Bhusan Roy, Hrishikesh Kanjilal, Birendra Sen, Sudhir Sarkar, Indra Nundy, Abinash Bhuttacharjee, Soilendra Bose, Hem Chunder Dass;
- transportation for life and forfeiture property Indu Bhusan Roy Section 121 A 122 Penal Code;
- to transportation for ten years and forfeiture property Poresh Mullick, Sishir Ghosh, Nirapado Roy Section 121, 122;
- to transportation for seven years Asoke Nundy, Balkrishna Kane, Susil Sen Section 121 A;
- to one year's rigorous imprisonment Kristo Jiban Sanyal Section 121 A;
- and acquitted Noren Buxshi, Sochindra Sen, Nolini Gupta, Purno Sen, Bijoy Nag, Kunjalal Saha, Hemendra Ghosh, Dharani Gupta, Nogen Gupta, Birendra Ghosh, Bijoy Bhuttacharjee, Hem Chundra Sen, Provas Dey, Dindayal Bose, Debobroto Bose, Nokhillessur Roy and Arabindo Ghosh.
Two of the 17 acquitted, Dharani Gupta & Nogen Gupta, were already undergoing a 7-year sentence for conviction in the Harrison Road case, so they were not released. Probash Chunder Deb was re-arrested on a sedition charge under Section 124A, in connection with the publication of the book "Desh Acharjya".
Of the two sentenced to death by hanging (but released in 1920), Ullaskar Dutt, a young man of 22, described his occupation as a cow keeper. Barindra Kumar Ghosh, younger brother of Aurobindo Ghosh, was a key player in the Alipore trial. It was in their house that the revolutionaries carried out their activities. Barindra had been born in England and came to India at the age of one. According to British Indian law, he was asked whether he preferred being tried as a British citizen. Barin, as a patriot, refused. Those two were sentenced to death, with the sentence later commuted to life imprisonment in the Cellular Jail in Andamans, where they remained until a general amnesty, in 1920.
- "Documents in the Life of Sri Aurobindo: The Judgment in the Alipore Bomb Case", Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 2007, webpage: SriAurobindoAshram.org-doc16.
- "Book Review: The Alipore Bomb Case - A historic pre-independence trial", Prakash Rao, Lok Aawaz Publishers and Distributors, 2007, webpage: Ghadar-review.