Know more about the politics of reticence and freedom movement at St Stephen’s College

  • Vandana Ramnani, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 13, 2016 21:26 IST
It was in the year 1882 that Punjab University was founded and St Stephen’s College became affiliated to it. (HT file)

It was in the year 1882 that Punjab University was founded and St Stephen’s College became affiliated to it. It began with only three teachers and five students. Rev Samuel Scott Allnut was the first principal and the college started in two rented houses near Kinari Bazaar in Chandini Chowk. Many students of this college also took part in the freedom movement, according to the book, University of Delhi (1922-1997).

In 1911 it was announced that the imperial capital would be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. On December 23, 1912, when the viceroy, Lord Hardinge, who was to inaugurate the new capital and Lady Hardinge were passing by through Chandni Chowk in a procession, a bomb was hurled at them. It exploded killing the attendant standing in the howdah behind Lady Hardinge and wounding the viceroy. Among the accused were Avadh Behari and Amir Chand, both former students of St Stephen’s. Both were teaching in a school for revolutionaries set up by Lala Harmant Sahai in Kinari Lane in Chandni Chowk. They were arrested and charged with conspiracy to kill Lord Hardinge. Rev A Allnut, then the principal of the college, appeared in court to defend the students but both the students were hanged in May 1915. Before his execution Avadh Behari was asked what his last wish was and he replied “The end of the British empire.”

During the Home Rule Movement in 1917, students of St Stephen’s and Hindu College took part in organising protest marches. They were led by Asaf Ali, Pearey Lal, a merchant, Sri Ram, a lawyer and Ram Lal, a cloth merchant. Indraprastha School was disaffiliated in 1917 because of the political activities of its headmistress, Miss G’meiner,who later became principal of IP College, says Dr Aparna Basu, former history professor at DU

The non-cooperation movement attracted several students and teachers. The movement did arouse political awakening among students and that is evident from articles published in The Stephanian, a magazine brought out by St Stephen’s College.

“In 1942, there was some participation of students in a procession during the the Quit India Movement largely at the instance of students from other colleges but in general our students are shy about political action in public. Post independence, there was a surge in the number of students wanting to join the college, says Dr David Baker, a retired history professor who is writing a book on the history of the college.

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