Remembering Khudiram Bose: A Young Gun Who Died With a Smile

At the age of 16, he joined secret revolutionary groups and started planting bombs near police stations.

3 min read

Even before Mahatma Gandhi returned to India and inspired a mass movement for freedom struggle, hundreds across the country readily took charge and fought against the British oppression. While many such freedom fighters, especially of the early independence movement, find mention in regional folklore, their names remain relatively unknown nationwide.

One such revolutionary is Khudiram Bose. He was one of India’s youngest revolutionaries of the early Independence movement and was only 18 years old when he sacrificed his life for the country. But Khudiram’s heroics often remain unsung.

Born in 1889 in the now West Bengal’s Midnapore district, Khudiram was inspired and influenced by the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, who was then a revolutionary freedom fighter. Legend has it that fired up by the idea of revolution, Khudiram requested his teacher to give him a revolver.

At the age of 16, he joined secret revolutionary groups and started planting bombs near police stations to target government officials.

The Muzaffarpur Carriage Killings

In 1908, Khudiram, along with Prafulla Chaki, was chosen to assassinate District Magistrate Kingsford of Muzaffarpur in Bihar. Kingsford was known for his ruthless action against young political activists and was unpopular with the locals.

Khudiram arrived a few days before the planned assassination to observe the daily routine of Kingsford. He took note of Kingsford’s court and club timings and the time he spent at his house.

On the eve of 30 April 1908, Khudiram positioned himself outside the European Club and stood waiting for Kingsford’s carriage to arrive.

When he saw the carriage, he immediately threw a bomb with one hand, while holding a pistol in the other for his safety. The bomb hit the carriage and it went up in flames. However, Kingsford was not in it but the carriage was occupied by two British women.

Khudiram’s Capture

Khudiram reportedly walked 25 miles in order to flee from the British, but he was eventually captured by police. The Vaini station, where he was caught, is now named after him as the Khudiram B Pusa Railway Station.

The railway station was crowded to see the boy. A boy of 18 or 19, he looked quite determined. He came out of a first-class compartment and walked all the way to the phaeton, kept for him outside, like a cheerful boy who knows no anxiety... on taking his seat, the boy lustily cried Vandemataram.
Reported Statesman on Khudiram’s capture

During the investigation, Khudiram took the entire blame for the murders and did not reveal the involvement of others. He was not aware that Chaki was caught by the police officers and had committed suicide.

When He Attained Martyrdom

Khudiram Bose was hanged by the prison authorities on 11 August 1908. A crowd had reportedly gathered with garlands outside the prison on the marked day. In honour of Khudiram’s martyrdom, poet Pitambar Das composed the popular Bengali song Ek Baar Bidaye De Ma – which is an emotional telling of the young man’s passion for his motherland.

Anand Bazaar Patrika reported that Khudiram died “cheerful and smiling.”

Although Khudiram and Chaki’s mission did not achieve its purpose, his martyrdom marked the beginning of a period of armed revolution against the British oppression. Hundreds of brave Indians – mostly in their teens like Khudiram, became inspired to fight fearlessly for their nation.

He became the first of the revolutionaries during the initial period of freedom struggle to be martyred by being hanged, and reportedly the second to sacrifice his life for the freedom of the country.

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