First Phase of Revolutionary Activities (1907-1917)

  • v  why the surge of Revolutionary Activities

§  The first phase acquired a more activist form as a fallout of the swadeshi and Boycott movement and continued till 1917. After the decline, the younger nationalists who had participated in the movement found it impossible to retreat and disappear into the background.

§  The second phase started as a fallout of the Non-cooperation Movement. The Extremist  eaders failed to create an effective organisation or find new forms of political work to tap these revolutionary energies. The youth thought that if nationalists goal of independence were to be met, the British must be expelled physically by force.

  • v  The Revolutionary programme

§  The revolutionaries opted to follow in the footsteps of Russian nihilists or the Irish nationalists instead of opting to creation of a violent mass revolution throughout the country or of trying to subvert the loyalties of the army.

§  Methodology of revolutionaries

o   Individual heroic actions, such as organizing associations of unpopular officials and of traitors and Informers organizing among the revolutionaries themselves.

o   Conducting swadeshi dacoities to raise funds for revolutionary activity.

o   organizing military conspiracies with an expectation of help from the enemies of Britain.

§  Ideology of revolutionaries.

o   Strike terror in the hearts of the rulers.

o   Arose people, and remove the fear of authority from their hearts/minds.

o   Inspire the people by appealing to their patriotism.

  • v  A Survey of Revolutionary Activities.

Revolutionary activities in different parts of India and abroad before and during the first world was: -

  • Ø  Bengal

§  First revolutionary groups were organised in 1902 in Midnapore (under Jnanendranath Basu) and in Calcutta (the Anushilan Samiti founded by Promotha Mitter, and including Jatindranath Banerjee, Barindra Kumar Ghosh and others).

§  In April 1906, an inner circle within Anushilan (Barindra Kumar Ghosh, Bhupendranath Dutta) started the weekly Yugantar and conducted a few abortive {sin-quite}actions’.

§  After severe police brutalities on participants of the Barisal Conference (April 1906), the Yugantar wrote: "The remedy lies with the people. The 30 crore people inhabiting India must raise their 60 crore hands to stop this curse of oppression. Force must be stopped by force.”

§  Rashbehari Bose and Sachin Sanyal had organised secret society covering far-flung areas of Punjab, Delhi and United Provinces while some others like Hemachandra Kanungo went abroad for military and political training.

§  In 1907, an abortive attempt was made by the Yugantar group on the life of a very unpopular British official, Sir Fuller (the first Lt. Governor of the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam).

§  In December 1907, there were attempts to derail the train on which the lieutenant- governor, Sri Andrew Fraser, was travelling.

§  In 1908, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose threw a bomb at a carnage. The whole Anushilan group was arrested including the Ghosh brothers, Aurobindo and Barindra, who were tried in the Alipore conspiracy case, variously called Manicktolla bomb conspiracy or Muraripukur conspiracy.

§  In February 1909, the public prosecutor was shot dead in Calcutta and in February 1910, a deputy superintendent of police met the same fate while leaving the Calcutta High Court.

§  In 1908, Barrah dacoity was organised by Dacca Anushilan under Pulin Das to raise funds for revolutionary activities.

§  Jatin Mukherjee was shot and died a hero{sin-quite}s death in Balasore on the Orissa coast in September 1915. “We shall die to awaken the nation ", was the call of Bagha Jatin.

§  The newspapers and journals advocating revolutionary activity included Sandhya and Yugantar in Bengal and Kal in Maharashtra.

  • Ø  Maharashtra

§  First of the revolutionary activities in Maharashtra was the organisation of the Ramos Peasant Force by Vasudev Balwant Phadke in 1879, aimed to rid the country of the British by instigating an armed revolt by disrupting communication line.

§  In 1879 Tilak propagated a spirit of militant nationalism, including use of violence, through Ganapati and Shivaji festivals and his journals Kesari and Mahratta. Two of his disciples—the Chapekar brothers, Damodar and Balkrishna—murdered the Plague Commissioner of Poona, Rand, and one Lt. Ayerst in 1897.

§  Savarkar and his brother organised Mitra Mela, a secret society, in 1899 which merged with Abhinav Bharat (after Mazzini{sin-quite}s Young Italy{sin-quite}) in 1904. Soon Nasik, Poona and Bombay emerged as centres of bomb manufacture.

§  In 1909, A.M.T Jackson, the collector of Nasik, who was also a wel-known ideologist, was killed by Anant Lakshman Kanher, a member of Abhinav Bharat.

  • Ø  Punjab

§  Lala Lajpat Rai including Ajit Singh, Aga Haidar, Syed Haider Raza, Bhai Parmanand, and the radical Urdu poet, Lalchand ‘Falak’ were active in urging non-payment of revenue and water rates among chenab colonists and Bari Doab peasants.

§  After the deportation of Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh; Ajit Singh and a few other associates – Sufi Ambaprasad, Lalchand, Bhai Premchand, Lala Hardyal developed into full-scale revolutionaries.

  • Ø  Revolutionary Activities Abroad

§  In 1905, Shyamji krishnavarma set up Indian Home Rule Society and India House, and brought out journal ‘The Indian Sociologist{sin-quite} in London as a center for Indian students, a scholarship scheme to bring radical youth from India to London.

§  Madanlal Dhingra from this circle assassinated the India office bureaucrat Curzon- Wyllie in 1909.

§  Madam Bhikaji Cama operated from Paris and Geneva and brought out journal Bande Matram, and Ajit Singh operated this journal. (Madam Bhikaji Cama was a Parsi Revolutionary).

§  Berlin committee for Indian Independence established by Virendranath Chattopadhyay and others after 1909.

The Ghadr

§  Ghadar Party was a revolutionary group organised around a weekly newspaper. ‘The Ghadr{sin-quite} with its headquarters at San Francisco and Branches along the US coast and in the Far East.

§  These revolutionaries included mainly ex-soldiers and peasants who had migrated from Punjab to the USA and Canada in search of better employment opportunities.

§  To carry out revolutionary activities, the earlier activists had set up a ‘Swadesh Sevak Home’ at Vancouver and ‘United India House’ at Seattle.

§  Finally, in 1913, the Ghadr was established.

§  Their plans were encouraged by two events in 1914— the Komagata Maru incident and the outbreak of the First World War.

Komagata Maru Incident and the Ghadr

§  Komagata Maru was the name of a ship which was carrying 370 passengers, mainly Sikh and Punjabi Muslim would-be immigrants, from Singapore to Vancouver.

§  The ship finally anchored at Calcutta in September 1914. The inmates refused to board the Punjab bound train. In the ensuing conflict with the police at Budge Budge near Calcutta, 22 persons died.

§  Ghadrites fixed February 21, 1915, as the date for an armed revolt in Ferozepur, Lahore and Rawalpindi garrisons. The authorities took Immediate action, aided by the Defence of India Rules, 1915.

§  British met the wartime threat with a formidable battery of repressive Measures— the most intensive since 1857—and above all by the Defence of India Act passed in March 1915 primarily to smash the Ghadr movement.

Evaluation of Ghadr

§  It preached militant nationalism with a completely secular approach. But politically and militarily, it failed to achieve much bcz it lacked an organised and sustained leadership, underestimated the extent o preparation required at every level- organisational, ideological, and tactical strategic – and perhaps Lala Hardayal was unsuited for the job of an organiser.

Revolutionaries in Europe

§  The Berlin Committee for Indian Independence was established in 1915 by Virendranath Chattopadhyay, Bhupendranath Dutta, Lala Hardayal and others with the help of the German foreign office under ‘Zimmerman Plan’.

§  Indian revolutionaries in Europe sent missions to Baghdad, Persia, Turkey and Kabul to work among Indian troops and the Indian prisoners of war (POWs) and to incite anti- British feelings among the people of these countries.

§  One mission under Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, Barkatullah and Obaidullah Sindhi went to Kabul to organise a ‘provisional Indian Government’ there with the help of the crown prince, Amanullah.

Mutiny in Singapore

§  Among the scattered mutinies during this period, the most notable was in Singapore on February 15, 1915 by Punjabi Muslim 5th Light Infantry and the 36th Sikh battalion under Jamadar Chisti Khan, Jamadar Abdul Gani and Subedar Daud Khan.

§  However; it was crushed after a fierce battle in which many were killed. Later, 37 persons were executed and 41 transported for life.


§  There was a temporary respite in revolutionary activity after the First World war because the release of prisoners held under the Defence of India Rules cooled down passions a bit, there was an atmosphere of conciliation after Montagu’s August 1917 statement.

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