Benoy Badal Dinesh: Bengal Freedom Fighters who Killed Col NS Simpson, British IG of Police
Benoy Badal Dinesh – They are three individuals, three brave freedom fighters from West Bengal, but their names are uttered as one. They are inseparable. Benoy Badal Dinesh together gave shape to a common task – killing brutal British Inspector General of Police, Colonel NS Simpson. They attained martyrdom after this. Benoy Basu was then aged 22 years, Badal Gupta 18 and Dinesh Gupta 19. At such a young age, patriotism ran in their veins. They gave their life for the freedom of the motherland. All three were born in different villages under Munshiganj District, now in Bangladesh. It is a pity that we hardly get to read about the brave warriors of India in our History text books.
Benoy Basu was born on 11 September 1908 at Rohitbhog village. After clearance of his 10th exam, he was enrolled in Mitford Medical School. But he did not clear his medical studies, as he was more concerned about the freedom of India from British rule and actively participated in related activities. He joined the Mukti Sangha, a secret group dedicated to similar activities. The words and activities of freedom fighter Hemchandra Ghosh motivated him to join the group. This group was closely connected to the Jugantar Party, a key freedom fighters’ group from Bengal. Many members of this group, over time, were arrested, hanged and deported for life to Kaalapani.
Badal Gupta was born in 1912 in Bikrampur village. He belonged to a family of freedom fighters – his paternal uncles Dharani Nath Gupta and Nagendra Nath Gupta were imprisoned along with Sri Aurobindo Ghosh for their involvement in the Alipore Bomb Case. It was a trial in held in Alipore following a conspiracy to kill D.H. Kingford, Chief Presidency Magistrate of Muzaffarpur. Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki threw the bombs on a vehicle coming out of the magistrate’s home on April 30, 1908, which they surmised that it carried Kingford. A case was filed against many freedom fighters on their ‘conspiracy’ for ‘waging war against the King. While in school, Badal Gupta was influenced by his teacher Nikunja Sen. And he joined the Bengal Volunteers, a secret group started by Subhash Chandra Bose in 1928.
Dinesh Gupta was born on 6 December 1911 in Josholong village. He joined Subhash Chandra Bose’s Bengal Volunteers, while studying in Dhaka College. Dinesh Gupta translated a short story written by Anton Chekhov; it was published in a magazine called Prabasi. The key activities of Bengal Volunteers were directed towards action against police repression in different jails in Bengal. Members planned to execute infamous British police officers. Dinesh Gupta went to Midnapore, which was a secret centre of training freedom fighters in the use of firearms. Himself an expert in the use of the firearm, Dinesh Gupta trained young freedom fighters in Midnapore.
In August 1930, Bengal Volunteers planned to kill Mr. F.J. Lowman, the Inspector General of Police of Dhaka. He was famed for notoriety, especially of brutally punishing freedom fighters who were arrested. Benoy Basu was entrusted with the task of assassinating him. Lowman was scheduled to visit Medical School Hospital in Dhaka to see an ailing senior police official undergoing treatment. Hodson, the Superintendent of Police, would accompany him. Benoy Basu was then a student of Medical School Hospital. It was 29th August 1930. Benoy Basu dressed in traditional Bengali attire, breached the security. He fired at Lowman from close range. He also fired at Hudson. Benoy immediately managed to escape from there and then to Kolkata. While Lowman died instantly, Hodson was grievously injured. Benoy was never caught or convicted for this.
The next in target in the list was Col N.S. Simpson, the Inspector General of Prisons. He brutally oppressed the prisoners in jails. Members of Bengal Volunteers also decided to launch an attack in the Writers’ Building in the Dalhousie square in Kolkata. A successful attack would help infuse terror in the minds of the British in the official circle. Benoy Basu, Badal Gupta, and Dinesh Gupta were entrusted with the task.
Members of Bengal Volunteers often disguised themselves when giving shape to their tasks so that no one recognized them. On 8 December 1930, Benoy Badal Dinesh dressed themselves in European costume and entered the Writers’ Building. They shot Simpson from close quarters. The Inspector General of Prisons died on the spot. The sound of gunshots alarmed the police force. British police retaliated; they started firing at Benoy Badal Dinesh.
A fierce gunfight ensued between the British police and the three freedom fighters. While the three were wounded, they were able to injure several British officers. Worth mentioning are Twynam, Prentice, and Nelson. The British police were superior in numbers. Soon they overpowered the trio.
To avoid arrest, Badal Gupta consumed potassium cyanide. He had brought it along so that if caught he would consume it. He died on the spot. Benoy and Dinesh shot themselves with their own revolvers. While Benoy was seriously wounded, Dinesh’s wound was minor.
Benoy was taken to the hospital. Though his wound was treated, he infected it by repeatedly putting in his finger into it. He died of infection of the wound 5 days later, i.e. on 13 December 1930.
Dinesh Gupta was taken to Alipore Jail where he was jailed during the trial. While in Alipore Jail, he wrote letters to his sister. These letters were later compiled into a book titled Ami Shubhash Bolchhi. He was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. Mr. Gerlick was the judge who gave the verdict. Dinesh was hanged on 7 July 1931 at Alipore Jail.
Do you know Kanailal Bhattacharya, another member of Bengal Volunteers, took revenge of Dinesh Gupta’s conviction just twenty days later? He killed Mr. Gerlick on 27 July, 1931. Such was the level of patriotism in the young minds of Bengal during the freedom movement!
Later, few of Dinesh Gupta’s students in the use of firearms training in Midnapore were successful in the assassination of three District Magistrates in succession – James Peddy, Robert Douglas, and D.E. Burge in 1931, 1932, and 1933 respectively.
James Peddy was notorious for beating freedom fighters to unconsciousness. He would take the women Satyagrahis to the open streets, strip them and leave them there. He was shot at close range by Jyoti Jeevan Ghosh and Vimal Dasgupta. He succumbed to his injuries the next day. Robert Douglas had killed two unarmed young freedom fighters at Hijli Detention Camp. Two brothers successfully carried out the task of killing Douglas. The younger Pradyot Bhattacharya, famed to be very handsome, was arrested and hanged to death. D.E. Burge was also renowned for his atrocities meted out to the Satyagrahis. He was killed by Anath Panja and Mrigen Datta; while escaping, Mrigen was caught and shot to death. Chaos prevailed in Bengal for sometime after these leading to arrest of many. Brojo Kishore Roy Choudhary, Ram Krishna Roy and Nava Jeevan were arrested, tried, and awarded death sentence pertaining to the case. They were hanged at Midnapore Jail, which had 3000 inmates. At the time of their execution, the inmates chanted slogans of ‘Vande Mataram’ that echoed in the Midnapore sky.
The last words of the martyrs were:
“We are going and leaving the unfinished task in your hands to finish.”
Benoy Badal Dinesh inspired many freedom fighters hereafter so did the others who sacrificed their lives for the motherland. Arrest, executions, and deportations did not deter the spirit of the members of Bengal Volunteers. They continued with their activities until India gained Independence.
After independence of India, the Dalhousie Square in Kolkata was named B.B.D. Bagh in memory of Benoy Badal Dinesh. A plate in the name of the trio was also engraved in the wall of Writers’ Building on the first floor.
Salute to Benoy Badal Dinesh! Salute to all freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of Bharat! Jai Hind!
Featured image courtesy: Wikipedia.
1. History of the Freedom Movement in India, III, RC Mazumdar
2. Bharater Biplab Kahini, II & III, Hemendranath Dasgupta