Governor General and Viceroy Lord Minto

Lord Minto served as Governor General and Viceroy of India from 1905 to 1910. He witnessed the outburst of Indian National Movement.  Major events that happened during his regime included enactment of Newspapers (Incitement to offences) Act, 1908, Explosive Substances Act,  Deportation of Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh to Mandalay Jail (1907), Surat Split (1907), Trial of Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1908), Foundation of the Indian Muslim League (1906), Indian Council Act of 1909 (Moreley-Minto Reforms), establishment of Indian Home Rule Society in England by Shyamji Verma, Murder of Col. William Wyllie by Madan Lal Dhingra (1909), Assassination of Jackson, the Magistrate of Nasik  and Ahmadabad Bomb case (1909).

Calcutta session 1906, Swaraj Resolution and Surat Split 1907

By 1906, Congress had two groups of moderates and extremists. The extremists wanted to extent boycott of foreign goods to pan-India level, and disobey the laws. The key extremist leaders were Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal {Lal-Bal-Pal}. The moderates did not like these ideas. They thought of boycott in special circumstances only.

The extremists were more popular but moderates were politically more intelligent. In the Calcutta session 1906 {presided by Dadabhai Naoroji}, Congress passed four resolutions under pressure from extremists. These included:

  • Resolution on Partition of Bengal
  • Resolution of Self Government (Swaraj)
  • Resolution on Swadeshi
  • Resolution on Boycott.

However, the moderates toned down the meaning of Swaraj or self government as “obtaining the self governing British colonies”. Extremist were not satisfied with this manipulation. The 1907 session was to be held originally at Nagpur, which was area of influence of Tilak. Since there was a chance that local extremists would raise issue in favour of extremists, the venue was changed to Surat. This session was held on bank of Tapti River in Surat in 1907 and was presided by Rash Behari Ghosh. Amid atmosphere of anger and resentment, the session was suspended and Congress was split among two factions. The next session of moderates was held in 1908 in Madras and at that time extremists were facing lathis and arrests under various laws passed to curb extremists.

Suppression of Extremists

By 1907-08, the government passed a series of laws in hurry to curb extremist and anti-government activities. These included Prevention of Seditious Meetings act (1907), Explosive Substance Act (1908), Newspaper (Incitement to Offences) Act (1908) etc.  The last act provided to confiscate the press if it published anything against the Government and incited the public outrage. With increased government action, extremists were suppressed and they were not able to organize a strong party. The Key leaders either left politics or went underground. For example, Arubindo Ghosh left to Pondicherry; Bipin Chandra Pal left politics; Lala Lajpat Rai went to England. The idea of extremist nationalism was put down and it later rose as militant nationalism.

India House

In the wave of nationalism, numerous militant organizations started working within and outside the country. In London, India house was established by Shyamji Krishna Verma to promote the nationalist views among the Indians of Britain. It published a newspaper “The Indian Sociologist” which used its subtitle –An Organ of Freedom, and Political, Social, and Religious Reform.

The important revolutionaries associated with India house included VD Savarkar, Madan Lal Dheengra, V.N. Chatterjee, Lala Har Dayal, V. V. S. Aiyar, M.P.T. Acharya and P.M. Bapat etc. All of them were founders of militant nationalism in either India or outside. Their newspaper was later banned for sedition.

Murder of Curzon Wyllie by Madan Lal Dhingra 1909

To give a clear and loud message to British to free India, Madan Lal Dhingra shot dead a British Sir Curzon Wyllie in London in July 1909. After the murder, Dhingra wanted to kill self but was arrested; trialled and hanged on 17 August 1909. This was one of the earliest killings by Indian revolutionaries. The sacrifice of Dhingra not only inspired the Indians but also the Irish, who were struggling at that time for autonomy.

Anushilan Samiti 1902-1908

The Anushilan Samiti was established by Pramathanath Mitra, a barrister from Calcutta. The people associated with this samiti were Sri Aurobindo, Deshabandhu Chittaranjan Das, Surendranath Tagore, Jatindranath Banerjee (Bagha Jatin) Bhupendra Natha Datta, Barindra Ghosh etc.

Out of them Bhupendra Nath Datta was brother of Swami Vivekananda. Barindra Ghosh was sent to Paris to learn the science of Bomb Making and here he came in touch were Madam Kama. Madam Kama was already associated with the India House and the Paris India Society.

Alipore Bomb Case 1908

In April 1908, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki threw a bomb to kill D.H. Kingford, the Chief Presidency Magistrate of Muzaffarpur. The magistrate survived the attack but two British ladies were killed. Prafulla Chaki committed suicide after he was cornered by the Police. Khudi Ram Bose was arrested. His trial continued for two years and was finally hanged. The Indian cop Nandalal Bannerjee, who had arrested Khudi Ram Bose, was later shot dead by Narendranath Bhattacharya.

Alipore Conspiracy Trial 1908-1909

Alipore Bomb case led to raids on members of the Anushilan Samiti. Arubindo Ghosh was arrested and lodged in Alipore Jail. He was defended by Chittaranjan Das; one of the prominent barristers if that time. Other members Barindra Ghosh and Ullaskar Dutt were sentenced to rigorous imprison and they were released in 1920.

The above series of bombing, shooting and trials had started the era of revolutionary terrorism in the country. The focus of these revolutionaries was to kill and send to hell to those British and Indian Officers who were oppressive. For fund raising, they resorted to Dacoity, which was called Swadeshi Dacoity.

Nasik Conspiracy Case 1909

In 1904, VD Savarakar had launched an Abhinav Bharat Society. In 1909, Anant Lakshaman Karkare, a member of this organization shot dead AMT Jackson, the district magistrate of Nasik. Jackson was a popular person and indologist. 27 members of Abhinav Bharat Society were convicted and punished. Ganesh Savarkar, brother of VD Savarkar, was sent to Andaman for Kala Pani.

Indian Councils Act 1909 (Morley Minto reforms) & Communal Representation

The Indian Councils Act expanded the legislative councils at the both the levels viz. central as well as provincial but it also introduced separate and discriminatory electorate. This was for the first time that, electorate for returning to the representatives to the councils was decided on the basis of class & community. The congress denounced it in Lahore session in 1909.

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