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Tribute to Ullaskar Dutta: An anti-British revolutionary

16 April 2023

Dr. Sheikh Shahbaz Riad :
Today is April 16, the 139th birth anniversary of Ullaskar Dutta -- an uncompromising revolutionary of the anti-British Swadeshi movement. He was born in 1885 in the historic village Kalikaccha of Sarail of the then Tripura district. His nickname was Palu and pen name was Abhiram. The village of Kalikaccha of Sarail upazila of Brahmanbaria was then one of the famous villages in this subcontinent.
Palu's father Principal Dwijdas Dutta was a scholar and humanist. His mother was Muktkeshi Nandi. Maternal grandfather was Brahmya Sadhak Anand Chandra Nandi (1832-1900). Ullaskar was thus influenced by humanistic philosophy from his mother's side. His maternal uncle was a famous Swadeshi saint Dr. Mahendra Chandra Nandi (1858-1932). His uncle had a considerable influence on his life.
Ullaskar Dutta spent most of his school time in Cumilla and Kolkata due to his father's job. At that time his father Dwijdas Dutta was professor of agriculture at Shivpur Engineering College. Ullaskar, after passing the entrance examination in 1903, was admitted to City College, Calcutta.
His political awareness first emerged when he heard the speeches of Swadeshi leaders Bipin Chandra Pal (1858-1932) and Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). In his autobiography `Twelve years of prison life' he said that `It was at the time when I was a student of the City College, Calcutta, that 1 happened to get a taste of politics for the first time in my life life. I remember quite clearly the day when 1 went to hear a lecture delivered by Sj. Bepin chandra Pal at the Star Theatre Hall. The next incident that I should like to make mention here, is one of Rabi Babu's Lectures on Swadeshi Samaj at the Minerva Theatre Hall'.
After passing FA, Ullaskar Dutta got admitted in Presidency College. There was also an incident that revealed his rebellious character. In Calcutta University a professor named Russell made derogatory remarks about Calcutta students. In protest, many students including Ullaskar Dutta insulted Professor Russell. For that reason he was expelled from that college. Later he got admitted in Textile Department at Victoria Technical College, Bombay. But he could not settle there. In fact, it was the anti-partition movement of 1905 that activated Ullaskar Dutta in the Swadeshi movement.
Under the inspiration of revolutionary Arvind Ghosh (1872-1950) and under the leadership of his brother Barindrakumar Ghosh (1880-1959), the armed revolutionary 'Anushilan Samiti' was formed at No. 32 Muraripukur, Kolkata. Revolutionary Barin Ghosh built his party's arena in this garden house of Muraripukur. It was there the revolutionaries like Barin Ghosh, Ullaskar Dutta, Upendranath Banerjee, Hemchandra Das, Jatindranath Mukhopadhyay, Avinash Bhattacharya used to define the policies of the party. In 1907, the garden house became the main center of the armed revolutionaries. The then subsequent history is known to all. On April 30, 1908, revolutionaries Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki were sent to Muzaffarpur of Bihar to kill the tyrannical Magistrate Kingsford in a bomb made by Ullaskar Dutta. Unfortunately, instead of Kingsford, their bomb killed the wife and daughter of an English lawyer named Kennedy. The English government police became desperate in this incident. The police arrested the members of the Anushilan Samiti from Baganbari at No. 32 Muraripukur Road, Manikatala. As this historic case started in the Alipore District Court, it became famous in history as the Alipore Bomb Attack. Arvind Ghosh, his brother Barindra Kumar Ghosh, and Ullaskar dutta and a total of 36 people were declared war against the state. The historic Alipore Bomb case started on 21 May 1908, and the verdict was delivered on 6 May 1909. Among the 36 accused, Ullaskar Dutta and Barindra Kumar Ghosh were ordered to be hanged. After hearing the sentence of execution, Ullashkar came back to the jail with a cheerful smile and said, "Now I get escaped from my responsibility". A European watchman saw this and called one of his friends "Look, the man is going to be hanged but he laughs. His friend replied "Yes, I know they all laugh at death''.
On August 23, 1909, Ullaskar and Barindra were sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court of Appeal. All, including Ullaskar, were sent to a cellular jail in the Andaman-Nicobar Islands. Ullaskar Dutta was released in 1920 after spending almost 12 years in prison suffering severe and inhuman punishment.
However, too much physical and mental torture could not stop this great revolutionary. He wrote a book about the memories of prison life in 1921 named 'Kara-Jivani' Published by Lalit Chandra Chowdhury, Singha Press, Kumilla. In 1924, Ullaskar published an English translation of his autobiography, `Twelve Years of Prison Life'.
He married his childhood friend Lila pal, daughter of Bipin Chandra Pal at that time she was a physically challenged widow woman and went to Silchar, the district town of Assam and spent his later life there. This great fighter passed away in 1965 there. He is still remembered by the people of his ancestral land of Kalikaccha. Many organizations have been established to perpetuate his memory. A humble tribute to this great revolutionary on his birthday!

(The writer is the founder of Kalikaccha Museum, Sarail, Brahmanbaria).

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