The Life & History of Indian Revolutionary Surya Sen

Join us as we delve into the life of Surya Sen – one of India’s most prominent revolutionaries and freedom fighters.

"That is my dream, a golden dream."

Regarding India’s revolutionary history, Surya Sen shines as a beacon of hope and bravery.

Surya Kumar Sen was instrumental in the independence movement in India and was unafraid to challenge and try to abolish the British regime.

Undeterred by physical or legal consequences, Surya made it his mission to ensure the freedom that many Indians enjoy.

He is also best known for leading the Chittagong armoury raid.

DESIblitz details the life and history of Surya Sen.

Early Forays into Freedom

The Life & History of Indian Revolutionary Surya Sen- Early Forays into FreedomBorn on March 22, 1894, Surya Sen was born in Noapara, Bengal, which is in modern-day Chittagong, Bangladesh.

His father was Ramaniranjan Sen, who was a teacher.

As a college student, Surya’s fascination with Indian freedom fighters began with one of his teachers.

In 1918, while in Chittagong, Surya began teaching at the National School.

As an educator, Surya became known as ‘Master Da’.

After leaving his teaching role, Surya became the President of the Indian National Congress, specifically leading its branch in Chittagong.

The ‘Quit India’ movement was being led by Mohandas Karamchand ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi, who advocated for non-violence.

In 1920, Gandhi organised the unsuccessful non-cooperation movement with the purpose of persuading the British to grant self-governance to India.

This was known as ‘Swaraj’. Surya enthusiastically took part in this movement.

During his time in ‘Swaraj’, Surya looted the treasury of the Assam-Bengal railway in order to secure money for the movement.

Due to this, Surya was imprisoned for two years along with the revolutionary Ambika Chakrabarty.

They were both released in 1928.

Chittagong Armoury Raid

The Life & History of Surya Sen - Chittagong Armoury RaidAs previously mentioned, Surya Sen is known for leading this raid, but let’s delve into it a bit more.

In 1916, during Easter Week in Ireland, a movement known as The Rising was undertaken by Irish republicans.

This movement was with the intention of ending British rule in Ireland.

Inspired by this, Surya and other Indian revolutionaries planned to raid the police and auxiliary forces from Chittagong.

Other members of the group included Ambika Chakrabarty, Ganesh Ghosh, and Lokenath Bal.

The raid took place on April 18, 1930. Ganesh led the group that captured the police armoury.

Meanwhile, Lokenath oversaw the capture of the auxiliary forces.

The raiders succeeded in cutting telephone and telegraph wires as well as disrupting train services.

However, they were unable to find ammunition.

Afterwards, the group congregated outside the police armoury where Surya hoisted a flag, gave a military salute and proclaimed a Provisional Revolutionary Government.

The raiders then began looking for a secure hiding place, with some staying in a house in Chandannagar.

On April 22, thousands of troops surrounded the revolutionaries. Surya helped some of his men escape.

However, many were arrested or took their own lives to evade capture.

Over 12 revolutionaries were killed in the aftermath.

Arrest & Death of Surya Sen

The Life & History of Surya Sen - Arrest & Death of Surya SenThe escape of Surya Sen following the raid led to him leading an itinerant lifestyle.

He took up several jobs including that of a farmer, house worker, and priest.

Surya was in hiding at a friend’s house when his relative Netra Sen informed British authorities of his whereabouts.

In February 1933, Surya was captured. Netra Sen was never rewarded for his information as another revolutionary named Kironmoy Sen beheaded him.

In a letter to friends prior to his execution, Surya wrote: “Death is knocking at my door. My mind is flying away towards eternity.

“At such a pleasant, at such a grave, at such a solemn moment, what shall I leave behind you?”

“Only one thing, that is my dream, a golden dream – the dream of free India.

“Never forget the date: April 18, 1930 – the day of the eastern Rebellion in Chittagong.

“Write in red letters in the core of your hearts the names of the patriots who have sacrificed their lives at the altar of India’s freedom.”

On January 12, 1934, Surya Sen died after receiving capital punishment. He passed away in Chittagong at the age of 39.

Media Representations

The Life & History of Surya Sen - Media RepresentationsSurya Sen has frequently been represented in Indian cinema.

Leading actors have been inspired by his life, which has led them to portray him in a dynamic and regal manner.

This is fitting to Surya’s achievements and the things that he stood for.

In 2010, Ashutosh Gowariker’s film Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey released.

Based on Surya Sen’s life, the film features Abhishek Bachchan as Surya.

During an appearance on Koffee With Karan in 2014, Abhishek delved into the film:

“It was a film I felt very strongly about.

“When [Ashutosh] narrated the script to me and the idea, I was very ashamed because I didn’t know who Surya Sen was.

“I said, ‘Here’s this great freedom fighter who has done so much for our freedom today that we enjoy and I don’t even know about him’.

“I felt almost responsible to bring out his story and I’m sure there were a lot of other people like me who didn’t know about this great man.”

In 2012, a film inspired by the Chittagong raid released.

Bedabrata Pain’s Chittagong stars Manoj Bajpayee as Surya.

In a scene, Surya declares: “Everyone thinks the British are unconquerable. They cannot be defeated.

“Why should we not bust that myth now?”

These words accurately convey the indomitable patriotic spirit of Surya Sen.

Personal Life & Legacy

The Life & History of Surya Sen - Personal Life & LegacySurya had five siblings and he was married to Puspa Sen.

One of his older brothers was Chandra Kumar Sen who was married to Birajmohini Devi.

Over the course of his life, Surya amassed many supporters and followers.

Before dying, he was tortured mercilessly by the prison authorities, who shattered his bones, limbs, and joints. They also pulled out his nails.

The authorities were apparently terrified of Surya’s immense support, so much so that they allegedly did not allow him to have a funeral.

From 1931 to 1935, the British secretary of state for India was Samuel Hoare.

In a report to the British government, Samuel stated:

“In the battle for India’s freedom, the Chittagong uprising of 1930 turned the tide and brought in its wake a rising clamour for immediate independence.”

In the universities of Dhaka and Chittagong, residential halls have been named after Surya.

There is also a metro railway station and a street named after him in Kolkata.

Surya Sen remains one of the most inspiring and influential revolutionaries in Indian history.

His quest for freedom, his undying willpower, and his steely grit all make him a symbol of perseverance.

He epitomised selflessness and courage with his commendable patriotism.

For that, he will always be a historical figure from whom many can learn from.

Manav is our content editor and writer who has a special focus on entertainment and arts. His passion is helping others, with interests in driving, cooking, and the gym. His motto is: “Never hang on to your sorrows. Always be positive."

Images courtesy of Google Arts & Culture, Daily Sun, News18, YouTube, Medium and ThePrint.

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