B. G. Horniman
Benjamin Guy Horniman (1873 – 1948) was a British journalist and editor of the Bombay Chronicle, particularly notable for his support of Indian independence.
Horniman was born in Dove Court, Sussex, England, to William Horniman, Paymaster-in-Chief in the Royal Navy, and his wife Sarah, and was educated at Portsmouth Grammar School and later at a military academy.
Career as a journalist
Horniman began his journalistic career at the Portsmouth Evening Mail in 1894. Before coming to India in 1906 to join the Statesman in Calcutta as its news editor, he had worked with several dailies in England including the Daily Chronicle and the Manchester Guardian. In 1913, he became editor of the Bombay Chronicle, a daily founded by Pherozeshah Mehta. The paper adopted a trenchant anti-colonial voice and became a mouthpiece of the freedom movement under Horniman. Following the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, Horniman managed to smuggle photographs of the incident and broke the story about the massacre and its aftermath in the Labour Party's mouthpiece the Daily Herald. The exposé broke through the censorship on the matter and unleashed a wave of revulsion in the British public over the incidents and the Hunter Commission. One of his correspondents, Goverdhan Das, was imprisoned for three years. Horniman himself was arrested for his coverage of the massacre and criticism of the colonial government and deported to London, and the Chronicle closed down (temporarily).
In England he continued his journalistic crusade against the colonial government and authored British Administration and the Amritsar Massacre in 1920. He returned to India a few years later and resumed the editorship of the Chronicle. In 1929 he launched his own newspaper, the Indian National Herald and its Weekly Herald. He later resigned from the Bombay Chronicle to start the Bombay Sentinel, an evening newspaper which he edited from 1933 for 12 years.
Role in India's freedom struggle
Horniman served as vice president of the Home Rule League under Annie Beasant and called for a satyagraha campaign against the Rowlatt Act in 1919 through the Bombay Chronicle and at public meetings. When Gandhi formed the Satyagraha Sabha to launch a national campaign against the Rowlatt Act, Horniman was made its vice-president. His decision to print an unofficial, smuggled report on the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in defiance of government censorship resulted in his deportation to the United Kingdom by the British colonial government.
Death and legacy
He died in 1948. The Horniman Circle Gardens in Mumbai, formerly the Elphinstone Circle, were named in his honour. His memoirs, unfinished at the time of his death, were entitled Fifty Years of Journalism.
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