Surya Sen (alternatively Surjya Sen, Bangla: সূর্য সেন pronounced Surjo Sen) (March 22, 1894 – January 12, 1934) (also known as Masterda Surya Sen) (Bangla: মাস্টারদা সূর্য সেন) was a prominent Bengali freedom fighter, an Indian independence activist and the chief architect of anti-British freedom movement in Chittagong, Bengal (now in Bangladesh). He was born on 22 March 1894 in Chittagong district now in Bangladesh. He participated in nationwide non-cooperation movement as a revolutionary. He was arrested in February 1933 by British and was hanged on 12 January 1934. The Government of India released a commemorative stamp on him in 1977. Bangladesh issued a commemorative stamp on him in 1999.
His father’s name was Ramaniranjan. A resident of Noapara in Chittagong, he was a teacher by profession. He was initiated into revolutionary ideas in 1916 by one of his teachers while he was a student of Intermediate Class in the Chittagong College and joined the renowned revolutionary group Anushilan. But when he went to Behrampur College for BA course, came to know about Jugantar and became more inspired with their ideas. On his return to Chittagong in 1918, he organized Jugantar there.All revolutionary groups were using Indian National Congress as umbrella to work. Consequently in 1929, Surya Sen became the president of the Chittagong district committee of the Indian National Congress. He continued to organize the hardline patriotic organisations and first became a teacher of the National school in Nandankanan and then joined the Umatara school at Chandanpura. Hence, he was known as Mastarda (teacher brother).
By 1923 Surya Sen spread the revolutionary organization in different parts of Chittagong district. Aware of the limited equipment and other resources of the freedom fighters, he was convinced of the need for secret guerrilla warfare against the colonial Government. One of his early successful undertakings was a broad day robbery at the treasury office of the Bengal Assam Railway at Chittagong on December 23, 1923.
Chittagong armoury raid and its aftermath
His major success in the anti-British revolutionary violence was the Chittagong Armoury Raid on April 18, 1930. Subsequent to the raid, he marched to the Jalalabad hills along with his fellow revolutionaries. After the battle with the British troops on April 22, he escaped from there.
Surya Sen, being constantly followed up by the police, had to hide at the house of Sabitri Devi, a widow, near Patiya. A police and military force under Captain Cameron surrounded the house on 13 June 1932. Cameron was shot dead while ascending the staircase and Surya Sen along with Pritilata Waddedar and Kalpana Datta escaped to safety.
Surya Sen was always in hiding, moving from one place to another. Sometimes he used to take a job as a workman; sometimes he would take a job as a farmer, or milkman, or priest, houseworker or even as a pious Muslim. This is how he used to avoid being captured.
Either because of money, or out of jealousy, or because of both, Netra Sen told the British Government that Surya Sen was at his house. As a result, the police came and captured him on February 16, 1933. This is how India’s supreme hero was arrested. But before Netra Sen was able to get his 10,000-rupee reward he was killed by the revolutionaries.
This is how it happened. Netra Sen’s wife was all for Surya Sen, and she was horrified by her husband’s deed. She felt mortified by her husband’s betrayal of Surya Sen.
One evening she was serving her husband food when a great admirer of Surya Sen came into the house. He was carrying a very big knife, which is called a “daa”. With one stroke of the dal he chopped off the head of Netra Sen in the presence of his wife. Then slowly and stealthily he went away.
When the police arrived to investigate, they asked Netra Sen’s wife if she had seen who the murderer was. She said, “I saw with my own eyes, but my heart will not permit me to tell you his name. I am sorry. I feel miserable that I was the wife of such a treacherous man, such an undivine man as Netra Sen. My husband betrayed the greatest hero of Chittagong. My husband betrayed a great son of Mother India. My husband cast a slur on the face of India. Therefore, I cannot tell the name of the person who took his life. He has definitely done the right thing. You can do anything with me. You can punish me, you can even kill me, but I shall never tell the name of the person who killed my husband. Our Master-da will be hanged, I know, but his name will forever be synonymous with India’s immortal freedom-cry. Everybody loves him. Everybody adores him. I, too, love him and adore him, for he is the brightest sun in the firmament of Chittagong. Surya means sun and he is truly our sun.”
Tarakeswar Dastidar, the new president of the Chittagong Branch Jugantar Party, made a preparation to rescue Surya Sen from the Chittagong Jail. But the plot was unearthed and consequently frustrated. Tarakeswar and Kalpana along with others were arrested. Special tribunals tried Surya Sen, Tarakeswar Dastidar, and Kalpana Datta in 1933.
Surya Sen along with his Tarekeshwar Dastidar was hanged by the British rulers on January 12, 1934. Before the death sentence Surya Sen was brutally tortured. It was reported that the British executioners broke all his teeth with hammer and plucked all nails and broke all limbs and joints. He was dragged to the rope unconscious. After his death his dead body was not given any funeral. The prison authority, it was found later, put his dead body in a metallic cage and dumped into the bay of Bengal.
His last letter to his friends, written on 11 January, stated, “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 18th of April,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.
The Government of Bangladesh designated the Chittagong Central Jail’s gallows as a memorial to Sen. There is also a station on the Kolkata Metro system in West Bengal, India named after him that is called ” Masterda Surya Sen”. There is a large park in Siliguri, India called “Surya Sen Park” in the middle of it is a bust of the revolutionary hero.
Chattal Seva Samity, Brasat (10 km north of Dum Dum airport & district HQ of 24 Parganas) erected a full length (15′ high) bronge statue of Masterda Surya Sen at the gate of Barasat Stadium on the 18th April 2010 where engraved “Bharat Gourav Masterda Surya Sen”. It was inaugurated by the 100+ year old legand & Masterda’s associate & follower Shree Binod Bihari Chowdhury in presence of Dr Asim Dasgupta, Finance Minister of West Bengal & other digniteries.
On March 6, 2011 a talk has been arranged on “the role & effect of Surya Sen & Preetilata in the Indian Independence Struggle” in the Preeti Sammelan (yearly get-together of Chittagong Languase speaking residents of North 24 Parganas) of Chattal Seva Samity at Barasat Stadium.