Bagha Jatin: life and times of Jatindranath Mukherjee

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National Book Trust, an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Govt. of India has recently published a biography entitled Bagha Jatin: Life and Times of Jatindranath Mukherjee. The book is written by Prithwindra Mukherjee, who is settled in Paris since 1966 and is the grandson of Jatindranath Mukherjee.

The biography is about Jatindranath Mukherjee (1879-1915) – who actually fought with a tiger with a Khukri and succeeded in overpowering it, though severely wounded earned the prefix Baghdad- the killer of bagh -was popularly known as Bagha Jatin and was the inventor and architect of Jugantar Movement. Behind the unassuming image of a champion of physical strength, he was esteemed- by those who knew him- for his thirst for justice, his vision of India politically free, socially modern and spiritually progressive.

The book was released by Hon’ble union minister of finance, Pranab Mukherjee on May 27, 2011, to coincide with the death anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Speaking on the occasion Pranab Mukherjee traced the history of coming of East India Company, the rise of Maratha and the third battle of Panipat. He emphasized the role played by individuals at local and national level during this period. He said that Jatindranath was six years old when Indian National Congress was formed in 1885. Partition of Bengal created a situation to develop armed struggle against the British. Various groups were formed in different parts of the world with Indian Diaspora. The book, Pranab Mukherjee, said is a short history of freedom fight through arms struggle. Jugantar Movement was founded by Jatindranath himself.

The author of the book though stays out of India, spent 40 years of research and presented interesting facts about the freedom struggle against the British rule during that period.

Prof. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, eminent historian, speaking on the occasion spoke on the importance of historiography and traditional writing of history. He said that those who were described by the British as terrorists came to be recognized as militant nationalist and then as revolutionaries. The book, Prof. Sabyasachi, says has opened the debate as how these people should be remembered.

“History is a story of success and not failures”. All these heroes who could not succeed in their missions were ignored by the history and historians. History should not be story of those who succeeded but also of the courageous failures,” said Prof. Sabyasachi.

Tathagata Satpathy, member of parliament, also spoke on the occasion and said that the book is a revelation about the people, who loved their motherland more than their own lives, Prof. Mridula Mukherjee, eminent historian and director, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library praised Bagha Jatin and his likes. She said, “Bagha Jatin and many others like him are not forgotten but are our heroes. They continue to live in our minds and imagination.” She also opined that the term ‘Revolutionary Terrorist’ has given dignity to those persons who fought for freedom in their own way which may not have been in tune with other non-violent methods.

The function was presided over by Chittatosh Mukherjee, former chief justice of Mumbai while Satish Kumar, joint director – NBT, offered a vote of thanks and stressed that National Book Trust is committed to bring out literature on forgotten national heroes to recognise their contribution to the history and literature of India.

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