Saturday, September 19, 2015

ALIPORE BOMB CASE ... Part 3: Alipore Court Trial

ALIPORE BOMB CASE or ALIPORE BOMB CONSPIRACY or ALIPORE BOMB TRIAL was a landmark court trial in the history of Indian Independence Movement. Involving Rishi Aurobindo and his associates, identified as the extremists by the British and defended by Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, the Alipore Case had a fascinating background to research about.

WANDERLUST presents before you the entire story in 3 weekly installments. Here goes the Final Part...

If you have missed Part 1&2, here are the links:

  1. Muraripukur Garden House
  2. Bomb Testings & Kingsford Killing


Alipore Court Trial Room (Image Courtesy: Wikimedia)

Raid & Arrest -

After Khudiram Bose was arrested and taken in to custody, it was the Government's turn to act. An emergent meeting was called by the Commissioner of Police on the night of 1st May, 1908 and the traps were laid everywhere. Searches commenced on the morning of 2nd. The information of bomb factory in the Muraripukur Garden House near Maniktala was gathered by Police through an informer. The premise at 32, Muraripukur Road and seven other centres were raided including Aurobindo Ghosh's residence at 48, Grey Street (now 102, Auroindo Sarani) near Hatibagan.

Muraripukur Garden House (L) & Commemorative Plaque (R)
(Image Courtesy: Sri Aurobindo Institute)

Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was arrested from his Grey Street residence while his brother Barin Ghosh and 13 other revolutionaries were detained and taken in to custody from Muraripukur Premise. Another prime accused Professor Charu Chandra Roy who was alleged to have visited the Garden House during 1907-08, took shelter at Chandannagore to evade arrest. Since he was the Vice-Principal of Dupleix College and a French Citizen, French Authorities initially denied the mutual extradition and sought detailed information about the case. Later on he was handed over to the British Government on 22nd June, 1908.

Aurobindo Ghosh's Residence at 48 Grey Street, now 102 Aurobindo Sarani
Then (L) (Image Courtesy: Sri Aurobindo Inst.), Commemorative Plaque (M) & House Now (R)

Khudiram Bose's Trial -

Meanwhile Khudiram's trial started on 21st May, 1908. Along with him two others were tried - Mrityunjay Chakraborty and Kishorimohan Bandyopadhyay, for accomodating Khudiram and Prafulla in Muzaffarpur. The Judges were Corndoff, Nathuniprasad and Janakiprasad. Mr. Mannuk and Binodbihari Majumdar became the prosecutors for the British Government while Kalidas Basu, Upendranath Sen, Kshetranath Bandyopadhyay defended Khudiram. The trio were joined later by Kulkamal Sen, Nagendranath Lahiri and Satishchandra Chakraborty. All six of them fought the case without any fees. But in spite of their defense and advocate Narendrakumar Basu's strong appeal in High Court, Khudiram was given death sentence. The order carried out on 11th August, 1908.

Judges, Public Prosecutors and Defense Lawyers -

The trial of Alipore Bomb Conspiracy started in Alipore Court (Alipore Judges Court). The origin of the Judges Court, Alipore goes back to 1774, but the office of the district Dewan-i-Adalat was created only in 1780. The district judge of 24 Parganas was responsible for the law and justice of Calcutta Suburbs i.e. the land beyond the Maratha Ditch which later became the Circular Road. Muraripukur Garden House was situated in Maniktala, beyond the Upper Circular Road or present A.P.C Roy Road. So the territorial jurisdiction of the case fell under Alipore Court.

The trial started. Mr. C. P. Beachcroft had taken the chair of the Judge. It was the irony of the fate that Beachcroft was once the fellow scholar of Aurobindo Ghosh during his Indian Civil Service Course in London. E. Norton was heading the group of lawyers who were prosecuting on behalf of the Government. Chittaranjan Das was defending the case.

Surprisingly, C R Das was not the first choice. Initially Byomkesh Chakraborty and Kumud Chowdhury were approached to fight in favour of the accused. But due to paucity of fund they expressed half-heartedness to defend the case. Finally Chittaranjan was approached. Chittaranjan took the brief and accepted the challenge. He dived deep into the case, did not know any rest, did not care for health. To meet the expenses he had to minimize his own necessaries. He even borrowed money at exorbitant rate of interest to meet the both ends and for easy going of legal proceedings. During this historic case Chittaranjan encountered all obstacles with courage and established himself as a barrister par excellence.  

During the trial 49 people stood accused, 206 witnesses were called, around 400 documents were filed with the court and more than 5000 exhibits were produced including bombs, revolvers and acids. Among the things found by the police in the Muraripukur Garden House, notable were boxes of sporting guns and rifles buried in the soil and 394 copies of 'Bartaman Rananiti', a book in bengali on modern art of war written by Abinash Chnadra Bhattacharya, an important member of Garden Samiti.

Assassination of Approver Naren Gosain - 

After the raid and arrest in May, in June, 1908 Police convinced Narendranath Goswami to turn prosecution witness. Naren Gosain agreed to be the Approver. On getting the news, conspirators including Aurobindo and Barin Ghosh, decided to murder Naren in the jail hospital. To execute the plan Aurobindo arranged two revolvers in the jail hospital through a senior doctor. Two of the prime accused, Kanailal Dutta and Satyendranath Basu, who were already admitted in the hospital with fever, wished to turn prosecution witness and requested to meet Naren Gosain as per the plan. At 7 am on 1st September, Naren was brought into the jail hospital. He had been seated by the bedside for a few minutes when Kanailal fired point-blank at him. Satyendranath, who was in a convalescent ward, appeared on the scene with a revolver to help despatch the victim. Kanai broke away and chased Naren along a passage keeping up a continuous fire. Naren Gosain was killed. An immediate judicial enquiry was held within the jail. The case was tried on 7th September before Mr. Roe and Kanailal held guilty while jury was in favour of acquittal of Satyendranath. Finally the case was referred to High Court and both of them were awarded death sentence. Kanailal was executed on 10th November and Satyendranath on 21st November.  

Final Verdict -

The hearing of Alipore Bomb Case continued for long four months at a stress. Chittaranjan kept the court busy right from ten in the morning till five-thirty in the evening. As a result Beachcroft could not leave the court earlier. 

On May 6, 1909, the historical trial came to an end. Judge Beachcroft delivered the verdict over 36 suspects. The major points were:

  • Aurobindo Ghosh was acquitted of the charges with 16 others.
  • Barin Ghosh and Ullaskar Dutt were given death penalty but sentences were commuted to life in prison and both released in 1920.
  • Hemchandra Kanungo Das was sentenced to transportation for life and forfeiture of all properties.
  • Others were sentenced to transportation for life and/or forfeiture of property.
The copy of the judgement can be found here.

The resplendent example of Chittaranjan Das to fight the wrong at the stake of everything served a nutrient to the nation. Aurobindo on his release from prison, remarked "Narayan (God) himself came to my rescue".

  • Hidden Calcutta by Rathin Mitra
  • Life and Times of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das by Rathindranath Sen.
  • The Bengalis by S N Das
  • Revolutionary Pamphlets, Propaganda and Political Culture in Colonial Bengal by Shukla Sanyal
  • Chittagong: Eye of the Tiger by Manoshi Bhattacharya
  • Chandernagore: From Boundage to Freedom 1900-1955 by Sailendranath Sen
  • Indian Revolutionaries: A Comprehensive Study - 1757 to 1961 by Shrikrishna Sarala
  • Historical Dictionary of the Bengalis by Kunal Chakraborty & Subhra Chakraborty.
  • Sri Aurobindo Ashram Website
  • Wikipedia Articles.


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  4. public of current generation are not aware of all those incidences. Work is excellent. Can I request the writer to compile more data ( sources are known to him) and publish the work as a part of the history of movement for independence, India.

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