Documents in the Life of Sri Aurobindo
THE ALIPORE TRIAL 2
The Alipore Bomb Trial Arrest and Investigation
Home Department Report on the Arrests
I have the honour to submit a report describing the course of events prior and subsequent to the outrage at Muzaffarpur, which occurred at about 8-30 p.m. on the night of the 30th April 1908, so far as they affected the Calcutta Police. Mr. Plowden received certain information in connection with the enquiry into the Midnapore outrage on His Honour the Lieutenant-Governors train. This information was confidentially communicated to me by the Chief Secretary; but I was requested to take no action in Calcutta, as it was feared that the conspirators might take alarm and re-form at another centre which would not be known, and would therefore presumably be the more dangerous. I consented of course to this arrangement in the public interest, although the centres of intrigue and conspiracy lay in Calcutta as well as in Midnapore, Nadia, Jessore, and other places. In the course of conversation I received hints from the Chief Secretary and from the Deputy Inspector-General of Police from time to time that further information was coming in and that certain persons were being watched. The Chandernagore outrage occurred on the 14th April 1908. I received information of this from the Maire, Mons. Tardival, on the 15th April 1908, and at his request I sent up to Chandernagore two officers to assist the French Police. Mr. Plowden then informed me that he believed he had reliable information as to the culprits. I withdrew the Calcutta Police officers engaged, and the matter was taken up by the Bengal Criminal Intelligence Department officers. Mr. Morshead, Mr. Plowden, and I had a consultation on or about the 20th April 1908; but the Officiating Inspector-General and Mr. Plowden still pressed the fact that they were not prepared to search houses in Calcutta, the suburbs of Calcutta, and in other districts. Mr. Plowden and myself, however, met the Governor of Pondicherry, the Administrateur de Chandernagore, and the Maire, Mons. Tardival, at the Howrah station on the 21st April, and promised to render all assistance. Mr. Plowden arranged to send for the bomb thrown into Mons. Tardivals house and for its analysis by Major Black, Chemical Examiner to Government. I have not seen this report, but I understand picric acid and other high explosives were found in the bomb.
2. On the 20th April Deputy Superintendent Rai Ramsadoy Mukharji Bahadur saw me, and informed me that he had received information that two persons had left Calcutta for the purpose of killing Mr. Kingsford at Muzaffarpur. He was unable to say whether these persons were Bengalis, their description or age; but it was surmised that they were Bengalis and youths. One of the Deputy Superintendents officers was at once sent to the District Superintendent of Police, Muzaffarpur, with a letter informing him of the facts so far as known and recommending search and precautions.
3. I received information by telegram at about 6 a.m. on the morning of the 1st May 1908 from the Superintendent of Police, Muzaffarpur, that a bomb, evidently intended for Mr. Kingsford, had been thrown at the wrong carriage, killing one lady and dangerously wounding the other. The offer of Rs. 5,000 reward was also telegraphed and a very rough description of the Bengali lads suspected, who were said to have absconded. I went over with the telegrams to Mr. Plowden and saw him; wired to the Chief Secretary that we had heard of the outrage and were in consultation as to action to be taken; wired Muzaffarpur to intimate further details in cipher. I saw Mr. Dring, the Agent, East Indian Railway, and arranged that he should send a European to Lillooa to supervise all tickets taken for Calcutta; he also received what description of the offenders we could give. I deputed officers to Howrah and Sealdah, and telephoned to the Assistant Inspector-General, Howrah. Mr. Plowden arranged for further watching officers up the line through the Superintendents of the Railway Police. A consultation was held by Mr. Plowden, the Deputy Superintendent of the Criminal Intelligence Department, Inspector P.C. Biswas, and myself. Mr. Plowden wished, if possible, to postpone searching the centres of the conspiracy for three days, as some of these centres were in Midnapore or elsewhere. I was personally averse to this. In the end the Empire newspaper got word, though direct from Muzaffarpur, to the effect that it was known there that two boys had been followed from Calcutta to Muzaffarpur. The Editor was good enough to suppress this fact in the evening issue, but it finally decided us that the searches in Calcutta and the suburbs of Calcutta must be made at once and the Midnapore searches must be directed by wire and left to take their chance. The same afternoon the police officer deputed to Muzaffarpur returned from Muzaffarpur with a letter from Mr. Armstrong, the Superintendent of Police, saying that the men had not, he thought, arrived in Muzaffarpur. This Criminal Intelligence Department officer had left Muzaffarpur only some six hours prior to the outrage.
4. This decision having been come to, no time was lost. I with Mr. Plowden, the Deputy Superintendent, Criminal Intelligence Department, and Inspector P.C. Biswas drove at about 5 p.m. to the Court where the Officiating Chief Presidency Magistrate, Mr. Thornhill, had waited on a telephone message to hear our application. Search warrants were taken out on the sworn testimony of Inspector P.C. Biswas for the following houses:
At 7 p.m. Mr. Plowden and I collected at 2, Kyd Street, a number of Police officers of the Bengal and Calcutta Police. The warrants were distributed among them, as detailed in Form A attached;1 and arrangements were made as to where these officers were to meet, the force of European and other Police that should accompany each search party, where they should be picked up, where the prisoners were to be placed after arrest, and where the property when found was to be lodged. The searches were to be simultaneously made at 5 a.m. at each of the places named in the warrants. Mr. Superintendent Haultain had charge of the European Sergeants and the Constables at Lall Bazar who were to accompany each party, and made arrangements quietly during the evening to collect 30 ticca gharries there. He did his part of the mobilization effectively. The searches, as arranged, took place without any hitch; and the result of these searches, as shown in the search lists attached, marked B there are seven of these was eminently successful and reflects credit both on the Police who collected the information and on those who conducted the searches. The houses were in every instance completely taken by surprise. The most important finds were at 134, Harrison Road, where 3 boxes and a bag containing 6 live bombs, a large quantity of dynamite detonators, fuses and about 400 rounds of rifle and revolver ammunition were found; and at the garden of Arabindo Ghosh and his brothers at Muraripooker, Manicktollah, in the suburbs of Calcutta, where 3 rifles, 2 double-barrel guns, 9 revolvers, 3 bombs and a quantity of explosives were found in a house, buried in the garden and in a temporary mat shed in the grounds of the house.
5. Twenty-nine arrests in all were made that night, as detailed in the attached list, marked C. One further arrest was made on the 3rd May 1908 of one Din Dayal Bose. His name is shown last in the list marked C, with other details.
3rd May 1908. Four of the prisoners made statements to the Police incriminating themselves as well as other members of the conspiracy.2 Their names are (1) Barindra Kumar Ghose, (2) Ullaskar Dutta, (3) Upendra Nath Banerjee, (4) Indoo Bhusan Roy, (5) Bibhuti Bhusan Sircar. Their statements were recorded in writing by the Police.
8 a.m. The Commissioner of Police interviewed all the accused persons in the Lall Bazar lock-up.
3.30 p.m. Din Dayal Bose, another member of the conspiracy, was arrested at the Sham Bazar Tramway Depôt, where he was employed as a clerk. His house at 80, College Street, was searched, and some incriminating letters were found.
4th May 1908. Thirty prisoners were placed before the Commissioner of Police, who questioned each prisoner individually; and in compliance with the request of the Deputy Inspector-General of Crime, who stated that he was not then in a position to formulate charges against the conspirators arrested in the Manicktollah Garden, 14 of these persons, as shown in Form C, were sent to the District Magistrate, Alipore, for disposal under section 54, Criminal Procedure Code. Four arrested persons, viz., the 2 garden malis and 2 lads who entered the garden after the search and were arrested on suspicion, were released on bail, as there was no evidence of their complicity in the conspiracy. The District Magistrate of Alipore had, on a communication from myself, expressed a wish that the cases of these persons should not be sent, as would be usual, to the Sealdah Court, but should be forwarded to him for disposal.
6. The following accused who were placed before the District Magistrate of Alipore made statements before him implicating themselves and others:
I have not got copies of these statements; they are with the Deputy Inspector-General, Crime, in whose hands, owing to the ramifications of the conspiracy throughout Bengal, I have entirely left the prosecution of these members.
7. 5th May 1908. The following officials arrived in Calcutta from Simla and Darjeeling:
A conference was held, at which it was arranged that Major Smallwood should examine the explosives, bombs, etc., at the Park Street police-station, Mr. Superintendent Bowen and Inspector Chamberlain assisting. Major Black, Chemical Examiner to Government, further personally assisted Major Smallwood, who speaks in high terms of the gratuitious and valuable help thus given by this officer. A copy of Major Smallwoods report is attached, marked D.
8. To Mr. Denham was entrusted the examination of the whole of the correspondence, papers, books, etc., seized. Mr. Macrae, Deputy Commissioner, Port Police, was detailed to supervise a further and careful search of the Manicktollah Garden, including the tanks. I sanctioned the utilization of one of the Fire Brigade steam engines to pump out two of these tanks; Chief Engineer Fulthorpe was assisted by Mr. Haultain and the Fire Brigade staff. Mr. Macrae emptied two tanks and thoroughly dug up the entire garden with bands of coolies. An old horse pistol only was found in one of the tanks, but some pieces of paper of some importance were found showing the vows taken by the occupants of the garden, etc. These with all other papers and documents were made over to Mr. Denham. Although this further search proved infructuous, it was undoubtedly essential. The plan-maker was directed to prepare plans of the Manicktollah Garden and 134, Harrison Road. It was decided that the further search of this garden should not be made until the plan of the first search was completed. Meanwhile an armed guard and European Sergeants were placed on duty over the premises. Inspector Percy proceeded to photograph objects of interest at the Manicktollah Garden. Copies attached marked E.
9. 10 a.m. The 12 prisoners who had been remanded for further enquiry on the 4th instant were again placed before the Commissioner of Police. Of these 12 prisoners, 5 were arrested at 134, Harrison Road, in connection with the seizure of bombs, etc. Their names are
The remaining 7 prisoners were arrested by the Police in connection with the other search warrants taken out on the 1st instant. Their names are
Nos. 1 to 5 arrested at 134, Harrison Road, and Ullaskar Dutta were placed by order of the Commissioner of Police before the Chief Presidency Magistrate for trial under sections 19 (f) and 20 of the Arms Act. Prisoners Nos. 6 to 12 were forwarded by the Commissioner of Police to the Chief Presidency Magistrate, Calcutta, with a request that they should be transferred to the Court of the District Magistrate, Alipore, for trial under sections 143, 144, 150, 157, 121, 121A, 122 and 124, Indian Penal Code.
This was done. The conduct of this case in Court was handed over to the Inspector-General of Police who had the evidence of conspiracy.
Arabindo Ghose was further charged under sections 19 and 20 of the Arms Act. Up to this date there are thus 13+7=20 prisoners arrested in Calcutta and the suburbs before the Alipore Magistrate and 6 prisoners before the Chief Presidency Magistrate, Calcutta.
10. I may add that copies of the search lists, the form showing prisoners arrested and arresting officers, with full details of the houses searched and the results, have been made over from day to day as the investigation progressed to the Director, Criminal Intelligence. Mr. Stevenson Moore has also taken voluminous notes from Mr. Denham, who is examining the mass of correspondence, books and pamphlets the Police have seized.
11. I have personally not yet examined Mr. Denhams notes on the correspondence seized both in Calcutta and elsewhere. He will doubtless submit a full report as to the result of his enquiries when they are completed.
Letter F.L. Halliday, Commissioner of Police, Calcutta, to the Chief Secretary to the Government of Bengal, 16 May 1908
Memorandum of the Discoveries Made in Calcutta Concerning the Anarchist Society of Barindra Kumar Ghose
Ever since the attempt made to blow up the Lieutenant-Governors special train near Kharagpur last December, it was known that the question of assassinating Government officials by means of bombs was being freely discussed by a section of the extremist agitators, chiefly men connected with the Yugantar, Sandhya, and Navasakti newspapers, and it was more than suspected that practical steps were being taken to carry out these designs. The conspirators, however, showed great caution and suspicion of outsiders, and the information which could be obtained about them was of a vague and apparently untrustworthy character. More recently, however, the information had taken a more definite shape and the police had actually been able to warn the authorities at Muzaffarpur that it was believed that emissaries had been sent to that station to attempt the assassination of Mr. Kingsford. When news was received of the outrage at Muzaffarpur, it was decided to search the premises which were supposed to be used by the conspirators, and eight separate parties were detailed for this duty in the early morning of May 2nd.
Places searched. Of the eight places searched the most important were
The garden house in Maniktolla, which has been found to belong jointly to Arbindo Ghose of the Bande Mataram, his brother Barindra, who was the head of the anarchist gang, and two other brothers, is in a secluded quarter of the suburb. The house itself is dilapidated and the surrounding grounds neglected and overgown with trees and shrubs; in the garden there are two tanks of stagnant water.
The premises were surrounded in the early hours of the morning of May 2nd and the raid was apparently entirely unexpected, as the leader of the gang and about a dozen members were found within and arrested. Buried underground at various places in the garden were found a few guns and sporting rifles and about eight revolvers, as well as a forge and other machinery for making bombs, and large quantities of acids for preparing explosives. There was also one finished bomb ready for use, besides large quantities of picric acid already prepared, dynamite cartridges, and 25 lbs. of dynamite. In addition there was a large amount of printed matter and correspondence which has not yet been completely examined; it included books upon explosives and military training. Marks of revolver bullets on targets of whitewash on the trees of the garden showed that revolver practice was also indulged in.
The search in short that the garden was a regular school for practical instruction in revolutionary methods and in the manufacture of explosives, and a text-book was found which was compiled apparently in imitation of similar books which are used by European anarchists.
No. 134, Harrison Road is a small shop separated only by a partition from a genuine chemists shop next door, and it had been open for about two months in a similar character. In the outer room a few bottles of medicine were kept on the shelves, but in the inner room there was large stock of explosives, six large bombs ready for use, and a quantity of electrical and chemical apparatus. Some of the explosives were kept in steel trunks and in one of these there was a picture from a London illustrated weekly paper of the attempted assassination of the King and Queen of Spain on their wedding day, on the back of which there was a sketch of the bomb used on that occasion. In another box was found a mass of correspondence and some anarchist literature.
This shop appears to have been used as a store-house for explosives and completed bombs, while the work of manufacturing the various internal machines was carried on in the Maniktolla garden. One of the men arrested, however, informed the police that the explosives, etc., found in the shop were deposited by him there in three trunks and a canvas bag, four or five days before the search was made, for safe custody, as the gang thought the police were after them.
General description of bombs used. Of the bombs found eight were loaded and six unloaded. The larger bombs are about the size of a cricket ball with projecting spikes all round; it seems probable that these spikes are in contact with a fulminate inside so as to explode the bomb on percussion. The result of the expert examination of the bombs and explosives has not yet been received, but it appears that the main charges were of dynamite, and picric acid was used for the fuses.
Persons arrested. The following persons were arrested in the garden at Maniktolla on May 2nd. It appears that except the two gardeners they were all members of the secret society, and the approximate date of their initiation is given according to the statement of Upendra Nath Banneriji (no. 14):
At 134, Harrison Road the following arrests were made the same morning:
Other persons arrested the same day were
and on the next day
The most important members of the gang have made statements to the police which they have repeated without any material variation before the District Magistrate of Alipore, confessing their share in three attempts to blow up the Lieutenant-Governors train, in the attempt to murder the Maire of Chandernagore and in the attempt to murder Mr. Kingsford at Muzaffarpur. Other matters have come to light in the papers seized which show the connection of the gang in the attempted murder of the missionary, Mr. Hickenbotham, at Kushtea.
The leading members of the gang.3 Barindra Kumar Ghose (no. 1), as admitted by himself, and confirmed by the statements of the other persons arrested, was the head of the organisation. He is 28 years of age, the son of the late Dr. K.D. Ghose, Civil Surgeon of Khulna town, and was born at Croydon, England. He was educated at Deogarh H.E. School, passed the Entrance examination of the Calcutta University, and studied up to the F.A. standard. While his brother Arabindo (no. 20) was professor at the Gaekwars College at Baroda, he lived with him for a year and studied politics, returning to Calcutta in 1902. He helped to start a number of akharas for lathi play at several centres in Bengal, and in the middle of 1903 again returned to his brother at Baroda, where he stayed for a year more. They discussed politics together, and he states that their opinions were the same, but that his brother did not participate in his mission.
He returned again to Calcutta in 1904, but his revolutionary work proper, after a period of preparation regarding which he refuses to give details and which was presumably spent in collecting money and consulting his friends, began with the publication of the Yugantar newspaper, which he started in 1906 along with Bhupendra Nath Dutt, at present undergoing a sentence of one years rigorous imprisonment for publishing sedition as editor of this paper, and Abinash Chandra Bhattacharji (no. 21). In the same year Arabindo abandoned his appointment on Rs. 400 a month in Baroda and accepted a post in the National College, Calcutta, on Rs. 150 a month. About this time, too, the Bande Mataram newspaper, in the direction of which Arabindo has been all along the leading spirit, was started.
The secret society with its head-quarters at the garden house in Maniktolla was started in 1907, and Barindra recruited, he says, 16 members, namely, nos. 2 to 14 above, with in addition Nirmal Roy (no. 24), Kanai Lal Dutt (no. 25), and Profulla Chandra Chaki, the youth who shot himself at Mokameh station when an attempt was made to arrest him for complicity in the Muzaffarpur case. There may have been other members of the gang as Barindra, and the other persons arrested have been careful in their statements to give as far as possible the names only of persons known to them to be already implicated.
In the garden the members of the secret society used to live together, discuss the regeneration of the country, and hatch revolutionary schemes for getting rid of the British Government. Barindra was responsible for the collection of arms, ammunition and explosives, and he states that he arranged in what manner and by whom all the attempted outrages were to be carried out, and himself took part in three of them.
Upendra Nath Banerji Another leading member of the society was Upendra Nath Banerji, a resident of French Chandernagore, who gives his age as 29. His education began at the Dupleix College, Chandernagore, and he studied in the Medical College, Calcutta, for two years and again after an interval attended the B.A. classes at the Duff College, Calcutta, for two years more. Thereafter he was a disciple of a certain Swami Swarupanand in the Adwitya Asram at Almorah in the United Provinces for about two years, and there he was instructed in Hindu and Western philosophy and underwent a course of training in Yoga according to the principle of Hinduism.
In 1906 he joined the Bande Mataram staff and was a regular contributor to the Yugantar. In 1907, according to his own statement, he thought of freeing the country from the foreign yoke by starting a religious institution or joining one if such an institution existed, and for this purpose between September 1907 and February 1908 he visited in quest of a sadhu or an institution the following places: Benares, Allahabad, Mirzapur, Chitrakote, Bombay, Baroda, and Nepal, returning occasionally to Calcutta. His search was, he says, unsuccessful.
He joined the secret society in July 1907 and used to assist Barindra in selecting boys suitable for working members. He had no part in collecting money or bombs and explosives, as he says that was Barindras work. His occupation was to train the boys in political economy, political science, and Hindu religion. He admits, however, that he was consulted about the attempt to derail the Lieutenant-Governors train near Kharagpur, and that he knew that the purpose of the society was to overthrow the British Government and to take the life of officials who hampered the national work.
The manufacture of explosives. The work of bomb-making was at first carried out by Ullash Kar Dutt who was afterwards assisted by Hem Chandra Das. The former has made statements to the police and to the Magistrate from which it appears that he joined the society in 1907, and that even before that he had made a study of explosives and experimented with various chemicals such as nitro-compounds at the house of his father, a professor of agriculture at Shibpur. He gives his age as 22, and he was educated at the Comilla Zillah School from which he passed the Entrance examination, and after studying in the Presidency College for two years failed in the F.A. examination in 1903. He then went to Bombay and went through a course of instruction in the cotton industry for a year and a half at the Victoria Technical Institute. His part in the various revolutionary outrages is detailed below.
Hem Chandra Das has not yet made any statement. Barindras account of him is that he went to Paris about the middle of 1907 to learn mechanics, and, if possible, also about explosives, and returned three of four months ago, and this has been confirmed from other sources. Both Barindra and Upendra state that Hem Chandra and Ullash formed the explosives department of the society, and this is confirmed by the statement of Ullash.
Revolutionary attempts. The following revolutionary acts attempted by the secret society have been described by Barindra, whose statement is corroborated by other members to the extent noted below:
1. An attempt was made last winter to derail the Lieutenant-Governors train near Chandernagore as he was proceeding to Ranchi. Barindra says he himself did not go, but he sent Ullash Kar Dutt (no. 6 above) who took with him a dynamite mine with a fuse and detonator; he was disturbed, however, while laying the mine and came away unsuccessful, leaving a few dynamite cartridges which exploded under the train without doing any damage. Ullash corroborates this statement, and adds that he made this mine himself.
2. A second attempt to derail the Lieutenant-Governors train was made shortly afterwards, also near Chandernagore, apparently on the return journey. On this occasion Barindra himself went, accompanied by Profulla Chandra Chaki and Bibhuti Bhusan Sarkar, and they waited near the line from 4 p.m. till morning. Finding, however, that the train was not coming that way they did not lay the mine, and returned to Calcutta. On this occasion also the mine was prepared by Ullash Kar Dutt.
3. The third attempt on the life of the Lieutenant-Governor was made on December 5th near Kharagpur in Midnapur district. On this occasion, too, Barindra went in person and took Profulla and Bibhuti with him. They carried a mine containing six pounds of dynamite with a fuse and detonator of picric acid which was also prepared by Ullash Kar Dutt. The mine was laid under Barindras supervision, and before midnight Barindra left the place, returning to Calcutta by the last train, and leaving the two younger men to place the fuse on the line. This they did at 2-30 a.m., and they had walked a distance which Bibhuti estimates as two miles towards Midnapur when the explosion took place with the result already known. The whole account is fully corroborated by Bibhuti.
4. The next attempt made was against the Maire of Chandernagore on April 11th by Birendra accompanied by Indu Bhusan Roy and Norendra Nath Gossain of Serampore, who was arrested on May 5th in consequence of the information give by Birendra.
This bomb was made by Hem Chandra Das and thrown by Indu Bhusan Roy. Only the detonator and not the main charge exploded, and Barindra explains that they afterwards found that the picric acid which they bought in the bazaar was not good. Both Indu and Norendra have admitted before the District Magistrate of Alipore their complicity in this affair.
5. The last outrage was at Muzaffarpur. This was arranged by Barindra, who, after consulting Upendra, sent out Khudiram Bose, a Midnapur youth introduced to him by Hem Chandra Das, his fellow-townsman, along with Profulla to kill Mr. Kingsford. The bomb used was made by Hem Chandra Das and Ullash Kar Dutt and thrown apparently by Khudiram Bose.
From Government of India, Home Political Department A. Proceedings, May 1908, Nos. 112-150.
1This and the items referred to below as B, C and D were not reproduced in the printed Home Department report.
2Five names are mentioned in the next sentence. Eventually five more confessed: Sudhir Sarkar, Biren Ghose, Hrishikesh Kanjilal, Kristo Jiban Sanyal and the future informer, Narendra Nath Goswami. Photographs of nine of the ten appear in Plates 2 and 3.
3 Photographs of the four leaders are reproduced as Plate 2.