This is a poster that the Inspector-General of Chittagong distributed in 1932. For leading the Chittagong armoury raid, Surya Sen was wanted for 10,000 Taka. During this ruthless manhunt, a Muslim farming community covertly guarded their beloved Masterda. 


Chittagong, in the 1930s, was a hotbed of revolution led by the legendary ‘Masterda’ Surya Sen. Sen directed a large number of revolutionaries, undertaken in the name of the Indian Republican Army, who attacked the British armouries. The daredevils of Chittagong made history. 


Sen plotted a plan to rob the imperial bank, take control of the city’s two main armouries, and destroy the city’s telephone and telegraph offices. Following the uprising, the revolutionaries assembled in front of the police armoury where Sen raised the national flag. 


Before sunrise, the revolutionaries departed Chittagong town and marched toward the Chittagong hill ranges in search of a secure hiding site. The raid was followed by a furious backlash from the British, which resulted in a vicious man-hunt. 


However, only a few people know the story of how Chittagong’s poor Muslim peasants provided Surya Sen with a safe haven while he was eluding the police. Shantimoy Roy, in the book ‘They Too Fought for India’s Freedom’ gave a stunning account.


This was the time when the youth of Hindu families were locked up and their homes were under strict surveillance. But amazingly, the doors of Muslim families were left open to offer food and shelter for the underground revolutionaries at tremendous risk.


Masterda was forced to seek refuge in the huts of those peasantries in the countryside of Chittagong with his notable comrades – the most wanted enemies of the British Raj. Despite being detained and subjected to torture, the unnamed villagers never revealed the information.


To break the resistance, the British government repeatedly attempted to spark riots within the two communities in the region by exploiting allegations of ill treatment of Muslims by Hindus. But the divisive plot fell at each time. Communities stood together. 


Yesterday was 12th January. On this day in 1934 Surya Sen was hanged to death after avoiding capture for nearly three years. With the news that their Masterda, their hero, had been executed, thousands of Muslim peasants mourned silently.


The forgotten Muslim farmers who risked their lives to provide food, shelter, and care to Hindu rebels of Chittagong remain an unappreciated fragment of history. Perhaps, a real history lesson for the nation’s future generations.


Source: Shantimoy Roy, Ed: Asghar Ali Engineer, ‘They Too Fought for India’s Freedom: The Role of Minorities’, Hope India Publications. 


Image Attributes: Kolkata State Archive, Surya Sen wanted 22 June 1932, Public Domain from Wikimedia. 


Directorate of State Archive, Surya Sen, Public Domain from Wikimedia. 

Swomitra, সুর্য সেন কে ফাঁসি দেয়ার স্থানের স্মৃতিফলকের চিত্র, CC BY 3.0 from Wikimedia.