AMIT KUMAR GUPTA*
Defying Death: Nationalist Revolutionism in India, 1897-1938
They were heroes
They used to raise storms in the heavens
Their stories still sound thrilling
Haloed by the blood of executed alien rulers
Guns, bullets and burst of bombs.
-From/anotarMukhe, Sukanta Bhattacharya
A tyrannically governed people sometimes feel compelled at their tether's end to hit back their tormentors through violent means. Such resorting to violence — whether as a primary mode of resistance, or as a device to counter the authoritarian excesses - was rather common on the part of the colonised against the colonialist oppression. That the case of India under colonialism could not have been very different, and that Indians conformed - more or less - to the general trend, despite all the euphoric din over their achievements in "non-violence" and at "negotiations", seem evident from the activities of the national revolutionists among them. Although the Indian people had a tradition of using arms against what they perceived to be the unjust and the injustice, the rebellious nationalists' armed confrontations with the British Raj commenced in the early years of the twentieth century - the point of its imperialist highnoon in India.
FIRST PHASE (1897-1910)
Footsteps of nationalist revolutionism in India were first heard in Maharashtra on 22 June 1897 when, following an outbreak of plague in
* Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murti, New Delhi. ""Translated by Sumanta Banerjee
Social Scientist, Vol.25, Nos. 9-10, Sept.-Oct. 1997