Khudiram Bose was an Indian freedom fighter. A Bengali by birth, he chose the revolutionary path to fight against colonial rule in India. He is considered one of the youngest Indian revolutionaries from West Bengal and the second youngest martyr of the Indian independence movement, who opposed the British Raj and was executed for his involvement in the anti-British activities. Khudiram Bose was one of the two accused in the Muzaffarpur Conspiracy Case in 1908. The name of his companion was Prafulla Chaki. Khudiram Bose was eighteen years old at the time of his martyrdom. Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki were involved in the assassination attempt of Magistrate Douglas Kingsford, a British judge who was unpopular with the local people for his harsh verdicts in West Bengal. However, their assassination plan went wrong when they threw a bomb at a carriage in which two English women, who became the victims of mistaken identity, were travelling. Later, these two women died, and Khudiram Bose was arrested by the British government and was sentenced to death. Prafulla Chaki shot himself with his own gun before being detained. Later, Mahatma Gandhi criticised the revolutionary actions of young people against the British Raj in India and stated in one of his speeches that Indians would not win freedom with these methods. Gandhi said,
The Indian people will not win their freedom through these methods.”
Soon after the death of Khudiram Bose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak supported the actions of Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki in his newspaper, The Kesari. This support resulted in the arrest of Bal Gangadhar Tilak by the Britishers under the sedition charges.
Khudiram Bose was born on Tuesday, 3 December 1889 (age 46 years; as of 2020) in Mohobani, Midnapore, Bengal Presidency, India (present-day West Bengal, India). His zodiac sign was Sagittarius. He received his initial school education from Tamluk’s Hamilton High School, West Bengal.
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Trailokyanath Bose, and he was a tehsildar in the Nerajol. His mother’s name is Lakshmipriya Devi. He had three elder sisters. One of his sister’s names was Aparupa Roy who was married to Amritalal Roy.
He was not married.
He belonged to the Kayastha community in West Bengal.
Khudiram Bose was born and brought up in the Kayastha community of Bengal. His parents had three daughters and a son named Khudiram Bose. His two elder brothers died in infancy. Reportedly, Khudiram’s life was saved after following a traditional ceremony called ‘Khud’ in which he was sold to his elder sister, soon after his birth, for three handfuls of grains. Consequently, it protected him from dying at an early age. Later, he was called with the name Khudiram. His mother died when he was six years old. When he was seven years old, his father also died. Soon after the death of his father and mother, he started living in the house of his elder sister, Aparupa Roy. His brother-in-law, Amritalal Roy, sent him to the Tamluk’s Hamilton High School to receive his initial school education.
Sri Aurobindo and Sister Nivedita visited Midnapore in 1902 and 1903 and delivered some revolutionary lectures to the young freedom fighters. Khudiram Bose, who was in his teens, attended these lectures. Soon after meeting the Indian revolutionary Barindra Kumar Ghosh, Khudiram Bose became a member of a revolutionary group named Anushilan Samiti. He was fifteen years old when he started participating in the Indian independence movements. He was given the responsibility to distribute the pamphlets of the revolutionary organisation, which targeted British rule in India. Khudiram Bose learned how to make bombs at the age of sixteen, and he actively participated in planting bombs near the police stations to target and kill the British government officials.
Assassination Attempt of Magistrate Douglas Kingsford
Later, after joining Anushilan Samiti, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki were chosen by the organisers of Samiti to assassinate Magistrate Douglas Kingsford, a British judge. Kingsford was hated by the people of Bengal for his harsh verdicts and death sentences on the political activists of the state. Soon, both of them reached Muzaffarpur and started stalking Magistrate Douglas Kingsford and his activities. Kudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki arranged a bomb from an Indian revolutionary freedom fighter named Hemchandra, who was an expert in bomb-making. Hemchandra handed over a bomb that consisted of 6 ounces of dynamite, a detonator, and a black powder fuse to them. On the other side, Aurobindo Ghosh and Barindra Ghosh paid often visits to Muzaffarnagar, which alerted the British police in Calcutta. Soon, four security officials were assigned outside the house of Magistrate Douglas Kingsford for protection. The Superintendent of Police in Muzaffarpur was alerted by Commissioner F. L. Halliday about the security of Kingsford, but the alerts were ignored by the superintendent. Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki adopted the fake names, Haren Sarkar and Dinesh Chandra Roy, respectively. In Muzaffarpur, both of them took shelter at a Dharamshala (inn), which was owned by Kishorimohan Bandyopadhyay. Soon, they started their mission and started keeping an eye on the activities of Magistrate Douglas Kingsford. Both of them managed to hide their real identities within three weeks of reaching Muzaffarpur. The Superintendent of Muzaffarpur, Armstrong, sent a letter to the CID officer of Calcutta that the suspected men had not arrived in Muzaffarpur. Magistrate Kingsford often used to visit the British Club, which was near the Muzaffarpur park, and Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki had already visited the park, monitoring the activities of Kingsford. On 29 April 1908, they decided to execute their plan near the British Club and pretended to be schoolboys, but their activities were suspected by a constable, and the plan was aborted by them. On 30 April 1908, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki again attempted the assassination of Magistrate Douglas Kingsford when he, along with his wife and Mrs and Ms Kennedy, was playing bridge at the European Club. These people were going back to their homes at 8:30 PM at night in the two carriages, which almost looked similar. Magistrate Douglas Kingsford and his wife were sitting in one carriage, and the wife and daughter of Pringle Kennedy, a British barrister, were sitting in the other. When their carriages were passing through the eastern gate of the compound of the European Club, Khudiram and Prafulla Chaki threw a bomb in the carriage, which was carrying the wife and daughter of Pringle Kennedy. A huge explosion blew the carriage with fire, and the two women sustained serious injuries and burns. Magistrate Douglas Kingsford survived the bomb blast, and it was a case of mistaken identity. After the blast, the carriages were taken to Kingsford’s house, and the daughter of Kennedy died after an hour. On 2 May 1908, Mrs Kennedy also died.
Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki escaped the police arrest soon after the bomb blast and chose their separate ways to run. After walking for more than twenty-five miles, Khudiram Bose reached the Waini railway station and asked for a glass of water at a tea stall. When he was asking for water, the two armed British policemen named Fateh Singh and Sheo Pershad Singh suspected his exhausted appearance, muddy feet, and curious face. Policemen started asking him questions, which made their doubt stronger as they already knew about the bomb blast at Muzaffarpur. They quietly tried to detain Khudiram Bose when he tried to escape. Soon, he started struggling with them, and during this struggle, Khudiram’s one of the two hidden revolvers fell down from his clothes. Within fractions of seconds, he pulled out his second revolver, but by that time, he had already been held tightly from behind by one of the police constables. He was arrested soon by these two constables, and a pistol of 37 rounds, thirty rupees, a railway map, and a timetable were seized from him. On the other side, a person named Trigunacharan Ghosh helped Prafulla Chaki while he was on the run and had covered a long distance on foot; Trigunacharan Ghosh was already aware of the Muzaffarpur bomb blast case. Trigunacharan Ghosh kept Prafulla Chaki at his home, fed him, and arranged the train tickets from Samastipur for Mokamaghat for Prafulla Chaki. A sub-inspector in the Indian Imperial Police, Nandlal Banerjee, encountered Prafulla Chaki on the train. Banerjee suspected Prafulla’s activities and appearance. During their journey to Howrah, they had a conversation, which made the policeman’s doubt stronger. Prafulla Chaki went to take water at the Shipwright railway station, and in the meantime, a telegram was sent by Nandlal Banerjee to the Muzaffarpur police station about the whereabouts of Chaki. When Banerjee tried to capture Prafulla at the station, Chaki shot himself in his mouth with his own gun.
Khudiram Bose was brought to the Muzaffarpur railway station on 1 May 1908, and he was guided by a team of policemen. A huge crowd was gathered around the railway station to have a glance at him. Khudiram Bose was eighteen years old at the time of the arrest. Mr Woodman, the district magistrate of Kolkata, took the charge of his case. Following his arrest, several newspapers published articles on Khudiram Bose. The Statesman, an English newspaper, wrote on 2 May 1908,
The Railway station was crowded to see the boy. A mere boy of 18 or 19 years old, who looked quite determined. He came out of a first-class compartment and walked all the way to the phaeton, kept for him outside, like a cheerful boy who knows no anxiety…..on taking his seat the boy cheerfully cried ‘Vandemataram’.
Soon after his arrest, Khudiram Bose stated in an official statement that he turned a revolutionary soon after he started studying at Midnapore Collegiate School. This statement was recorded by the special branches of the British police. The statement was,
I was naughty in my childhood, But after I entered Midnapore Collegiate School a change overtook me.”
Khudiram Bose did not know at his first court trial that his comrade Prafulla Chaki was dead. On the first day of his trial, Khudiram Bose made a statement that he was responsible for his own actions and that no one influenced him for the bomb blast and assassination attempt. The body of Prafulla Chaki was brought to Muzaffarpur for identification by Khudiram Bose. The sub-inspector Bannerjee provided all the details about the suicide of Prafulla Chaki to the court. Later, the head of Prafulla Chaki was detached from his body and was sent to Calcutta for further investigation as the British government did not believe Khudiram Bose and Nandlal Bannerjee and their statements.
On 21 May 1908, the court trials of Khudiram Bose began under a jury including Judge Corndoff, Nathuni Prasad, and Janak Prasad. The two men Mrityunjay Chakraborty and Kishorimohan Bandopadhyay who helped Khudiram Bose in escaping the police arrest were also tried under other sections of the court. However, Mrityunjay Chakraborty died amid the proceedings of the first trial of the court. Kalidas Basu, Upendranath Sen, and Kshetranath Bandopadhyay were the defence lawyers and Mannum and Binod Bihari were the British prosecutors. Defence lawyers of Khudiram Bose represented his case for free.
On 23 May 1908, the second court trial proceeded against Khudiram Bose. In his statement to the Magistrate E.W. Bredhowd, Khudiram Bose stated that he was not involved in the Muzaffarpur Bomb Blast Case, and he pleaded not guilty. The lawyers of Khudiram Bose requested him to sign this statement forcefully so that they could urge bail for him. The jury decided that the verdict of the case would be announced on 13 June 1908.
Reportedly, a threatening letter, which was sent by an anonymous, was received by all the British judges and prosecutors involved in this case on the same day. The letter stated,
One more bomb coming for them from Kolkata and that henceforth. it will be the Biharis, and not the Bengalis, who are going to kill them.”
This letter confirmed that there were other gangs and revolutionary organisations involved in the Muzaffarpur Conspiracy Case, and it alerted the judges and prosecutors of this case. It was expected that the judges would feel pity for Khudiram Bose due to his age and would pronounce a sentence other than execution. However, on 13 June 1908, the judges sentenced death punishment to Khudiram Bose for his involvement in the killing of the two English women. The verdict was accepted by Khudiram Bose with a smile on his face. After the verdict, the judge asked him if he understood the meaning of the death sentence, and Khudiram Bose nodded. The judge asked Khudiram Bose what else he wanted to say in his defence, then Khudiram Bose answered,
Yes, I do and my lawyer said that I was too young to make bombs. If you allow me some time before I’m taken away from here, I can teach you the skills of making bombs too.”
Soon after Khudiram’s reply, the judge ordered the British policemen to take him outside the courtroom.
Petition Filed by Khudiram Bose
After seven days of announcing the verdict, Khudiram Bose again filed a petition in the Calcutta High Court. This petition was forcefully filed by his lawyers in the high court as Khudiram was against further appealing. His lawyers had the view that if he wanted to fight more for India’s freedom movements then he must appeal for a life sentence instead of the death sentence. This persuaded Khudiram to appeal against the previous verdict.
Narendra Kumar Basu took the defence case of Khudiram Bose, and the court trial was scheduled for 8 July 1908. Khudiram Bose had become a popular face all across the nation till then. In the courtroom, Narendra Kumar Basu challenged the previous verdict under section 164 of the penal code. Basu stated that Mr Woodman, who pronounced the death sentence to Khudiram Bose, was not a first-class magistrate, and as an accused, Khudiram Bose was required to declare his official statements in front of a first-class magistrate. Basu further added that the actual designation of the magistrate was not told to Khudiram Bose in the previous court proceedings. He further mentioned that during the court trials, the accused was required to give answers in his mother tongue under article 364, but he was questioned in English. The defence lawyer further raised the issue that the statements were signed by Khudiram Bose a day after the court proceedings; however, he was supposed to do the same on the same day. These statements were signed by Khudiram in front of another additional magistrate. The lawyer added that the other accused of the bomb case, Prafulla Chaki, was an expert in bomb-making, and Prafulla was the one who threw the bomb in the carriage and later attempted suicide on the verge of capture. Basu told the court,
Prafulla aka “Dinesh” (the name used in the trial) was stronger than Khudiram was, and he was the bomb expert among the two of them. Thus, it is highly likely that the actual thrower of the bomb was “Dinesh”. Further, Prafulla’s suicide on the verge of capture only reinforces the possibility of his being the actual thrower of the bombs.”
After the court trials, the jury stated that the final verdict of the case would be announced on 13 July 1908. The arguments made by Narendra Kumar Basu and the legal documents that he submitted were considered technically sound by the British government, but Khudiram Bose was the only survivor of the case, his statements were taken as the base to pronounce the final verdict. Consequently, the appeal of Khudiram Bose was dismissed by the judges, and he was awarded the death sentence.
Khudiram Bose was hanged by the British government at 6 AM on 11 August 1908 at Muzaffarpur Jail in Bengal Presidency, British India (present-day Bihar, India). A huge crowd surrounded the Muzaffarpur Jail to praise Khudiram Bose and his revolutionary activities. It was reported by many media houses that each one in the crowd was holding flower garlands in their hands. All the necessary funeral arrangements for Khudiram were done by Upendranath Sen, who was a journalist for the Bengali newspaper ‘Bengalee.’ Sen reached the death sentence venue at 5 AM in the morning, and he was a close friend of Khudiram. Soon after the death of Khudiram Bose, his funeral procession was taken across the city. A team of police was kept to guard his dead body. The people were spotted throwing flowers at his body during the funeral procession.
The next day after the death of Khudiram Bose, several noted newspapers published articles on Khudiram Bose. The Amrita Bazar Patrika published that Khudiram walked smiling to the gallows. It wrote,
Khudiram’s End: Died cheerful and smiling” – Khudiram’s execution took place at 6 a.m. this morning. He walked to the gallows firmly and cheerfully and even smiled when the cap was drawn over his head.”
An Anglo-Indian newspaper, The Empire, wrote,
Khudiram Bose was executed this morning…It is alleged that he mounted the scaffold with his body erect. He was cheerful and smiling.”
During the court trials of Khudiram Bose, a Marathi newspaper, The Kesari, published on 26 May 1908 that so much commotion had not been produced by anyone in the history of India. It wrote,
Neither the Jubilee murder of 1897, nor the reported tampering of the Sikh regiments had produced so much commotion, and the English public opinion seems inclined to regard birth of the bomb in India as the most extraordinary event since the mutiny at 1857.”
- Kazi Nazrul Islam, a Bengali poet, penned a poem on Khudiram Bose soon after his death to honour him.
- After the martyrdom of Khudiram Bose, he became so popular among the school going boys that these boys started wearing dhotis, which looked like the dhoti worn by Khudiram Bose. These dhotis were made by the weavers of Bengal, and it was quite popular among the young revolutionaries, who were following the path of India’s independence.
- Khudiram Bose Central College, an undergraduate college, was established in 1965 in Kolkata, West Bengal, which offers courses in arts and commerce and is affiliated with the University of Kolkata. This college was started in the memory of Khudiram Bose by the Government of India.
- Later, Shahid Khudiram Station, a metro railway station was named after Khudiram Bose to honour his sacrifices for the independence of India. This station is located near Garia in Kolkata.
- The Government of India established a hospital named ‘Shahid Khudiram Bose Hospital’ on BT Road near Municipality park in Kolkata. Khudiram Bose’s statue was erected by the state government in his remembrance.
- The Waini station was named Khudiram Bose Pusa Station in his honour after the independence of India. The jail where Khudiram Bose was hanged on 11 August 1908 has been named ‘Khudiram Bose Memorial Central Jail’ in his honour.
- To remember his attempts for the freedom of India, the Government of India, established a Khudiram Anushilan Kendra, which is located near the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Indore Stadium in Kolkata.
- Later, Sahid Khudiram Siksha Prangan, a university, was established in Khudiram Bose’s name that provides postgraduate studies. The campus of this university is also known as the Alipore Campus, which is affiliated with the University of Calcutta, Kolkata. Saheed Khudiram College at Kamakhyaguri, Alipurduar, West Bengal, was started by the Government of India in his honour.
- ‘Main Khudiram Bose Hun,’ a film was released in 2017 on Khudiram’s life. His character in the film was portrayed by actor Kanishk Kumar Jain.