On September 13, I got out of bed and moved to the computer table as usual. I am in the habit of wishing people on their birthday every morning.
For the past several days, I had been reading about our country's revolutionaries. I came across an unsung hero, Jatindra Nath Das. When I searched on the internet, I found, to my utter surprise, that September 13 was his martyrdom day.
Das was a Bengal revolutionary. He joined Bhagat Singh and his other comrades for a hunger strike in the Lahore Central Jail in 1929. He strongly felt that it would be against the revolutionary tradition to withdraw the strike without attaining the objectives. In fact, he led the fast and sustained it till the end.
One day, Das was brought to the court on a stretcher. Looking at his deteriorating condition, the jail committee recommended that Das be released unconditionally. The government rejected the recommendation, making it a matter of prestige.They offered to release him on bail,but he did not agree. Someone deposited the bail money for him, but Jatin still refused the offer.
Das did not end the fast, even though most of his comrades assured him that the jail committee would improve the living conditions in the prison.
Das refused to be force-fed. His fast lasted 63 days. He died at the age of 24 on September 13, 1929. Subhas Chandra Bose sent Rs 600 to transport Das' body from Lahore to Calcutta. Bombay and Punjab, too, offered money.
The entire nation felt proud of the uncomprising Das and saw him as one unvanquished by the mighty British Empire.
His funeral procession started from the Borstal Jail. Hundreds joined it on the way to the railway station. People expressed their grief by standing in silence at every railway station that the train carrying the body passed through.
In Calcutta, some six lakh people waited at the Howrah railway station. The walls bore messages in Bengali, saying "Let my son be like Jatin Das". Glowing tributes were paid. Punjabi leaders Mohammad Alam and Gopichand resigned from the legislative council as a mark of protest.
Das' story disturbed me. My heart felt his pain and I was left wondering about the present-day hunger strikes. What is the objective of these strikes? Usually, it's publicity. That's the best these protesters are able to achieve.