‘Freedom fighters’ or ‘revolutionary terrorists’

The description of the action of freedom fighters of undivided Bengal involved in the armed struggle during the Swadeshi Movement as “revolutionary terrorism” in the Class VIII history text book of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) has evoked mixed reactions from some of the prominent scholars and historians here.

The phrase “revolutionary terrorists” has been used in the text book for those involved in armed struggle against the British Empire in 1905, during the movement against the bifurcation of Bengal. The chief administrator of WBBSE, Kalyanmoy Ganguly, refused to comment on the issue.

Noted author on armed struggle during the freedom movement, Ashok Mukherjee, dubbed the description of freedom fighters as “totally wrong”. But eminent historian Goutam Bhadra said he found nothing wrong with the phrase “revolutionary terrorism.”

Mr. Mukherjee told The Hindu on Friday that “the proper phrase in this regard would be militant nationalism rather than revolutionary terrorism.” He pointed out that in the 1900s there was discontent among freedom fighters with the Congress’ method of “appealing” to the British Government for more autonomy for the country.

He said that in a book called 'Terrorism in India', the British Government dubbed most of the freedom fighters involved in armed struggle for Independence as terrorists. “It was the British who called our freedom fighters terrorists. Why should we do the same?” he asked.

The phrase “revolutionary terrorism” has also been used in context of the Alipore Bomb Case. In the case freedom fighters, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki attempted to kill Magistrate Kingsford, known for his harsh verdicts on nationalists on April 30, 1908. Although Mr. Chaki shot himself to avoid arrest, Mr. Bose was arrested and later hanged.

Mr. Mukherjee expressed his reservation in this regard. “Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was involved in armed struggle against the British Government. Does that make him a terrorist?” he asked.

Eminent historian Goutam Bhadra, however, found nothing objectionable in the use of the phrase “revolutionary terrorism”. He claimed that the freedom fighters during the era of violent struggle against the partition of Bengal “were influenced by Irish and Russian Nihilism…The phrase (revolutionary terrorism) is also used for Irish freedom fighters with no objection on part of the Irish people.”

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 8:21:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/freedom-fighters-or-revolutionary-terrorists/article6298571.ece

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