Master Da

Surya Sen
Sen in 1924
Born(1894-03-22)22 March 1894
Died12 January 1934(1934-01-12) (aged 39)
Chittagong, Bengal, British India (now Chittagong, Bangladesh)
Cause of deathExecution by hanging
Organization(s)Indian National Congress Jugantar, Anushilan Samiti
Known forChittagong armoury raid
Political partyIndian National Congress
MovementIndian Independence movement
Criminal penaltyCapital punishment
Criminal statusExecuted
SpousePuspa Sen

Surya Sen, also known as Surya Kumar Sen (22 March 1894 – 12 January 1934), was an Indian revolutionary[1] who was influential in the independence movement against British rule in India and is best known for leading the 1930 Chittagong armoury raid.

Sen was a school teacher by profession and was popularly known as Master Da ("da" is an honorific suffix in Bengali language). He was influenced by the nationalist ideals in 1916 while he was a student of B.A. in Berhampore College (Now MES College).[2] In 1918, he was selected as president of the Indian National Congress's Chittagong branch.[3] Sen was known for recruiting a group of young and passionate revolutionaries known as the Chittagong group. The group included Ananta Singh, Ganesh Ghosh and Lokenath Bal, and fought against the British stationed in Chittagong.[4]

He was an active participant in the Non-co-operation movement and was later arrested and imprisoned for 2 years from 1926 to 1928 for his revolutionary activities. A brilliant and inspirational organiser, Sen was fond of saying "Humanism is a special virtue of a revolutionary."[4]

After the Chittagong raid in 1930 and a fierce battle where over 80 British Indian Army soldiers and 12 revolutionaries were killed, Sen and other surviving revolutionaries dispersed into small groups and hid in neighbouring villages, launching raids on government personnel and property. Sen was arrested on 16 February 1933, tried and was hanged on 12 January 1934.[5] Many of his fellow revolutionaries were also caught and sentenced to long periods of imprisonment.[6]

Early life

Sen wanted for 10,000 taka, poster distributed by the Inspector-General of the Police Division of Chittagong in 1932.

Sen was born on 22 March 1894 in a Bengali Baidya family at Noapara, under Raozan Upazila in Chittagong, Bengal Presidency, British India (now in Bangladesh). His father Ramaniranjan Sen was a teacher. In 1916, when he was a B.A. student in Berhampore College (now Krishnath College) of Murshidabad he learned about Indian freedom movement from one of his teachers Shatishchandra Chakrabarti. When Sen came to Chittagong in 1918, he started teaching at the local National School, becoming famous with the honorific Master da. Later, he left his job and became the president of the Chittagong branch of the Indian National Congress.[7][8]

Sen actively participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement. He looted the treasury of Assam-Bengal Railway for cash money to fuel the movement, for which he was imprisoned with fellow revolutionary Ambika Chakrabarty for two years. Both were released towards the end of 1928 and resumed their activities.[9][10][11]

Chittagong armoury raid

Main article: Chittagong armoury raid

Sen led a group of revolutionaries on 18 April 1930 to raid the armouries of police and auxiliary forces in Chittagong.[12] The plan was elaborate and included seizing of arms from the armoury as well as destruction of communication system of the city (including telephone, telegraph and railway), thereby isolating Chittagong from the rest of British Raj.[12] However, although the group gained the arms, they failed to capture the ammunition. They hoisted the Indian National Flag on the premises of the armoury, and then escaped. A few days later, a large fraction of the revolutionary group was cornered on Jalalabad Hill by a British Indian Army detachment. In the ensuing fight, twelve revolutionaries died, many were arrested, while some managed to flee, including Sen.[6]

Arrest and death

Sen stayed in hiding, and kept moving from one place to another. Sometimes he took up a job as a workman, a farmer, a priest, a house worker or even hid as a pious Muslim. This is how he avoided being captured by the British.[13]

He hid in the house of a friend. His relative named Netra Sen lived not far away.[14] But Netra Sen informed the British of his hiding place, and the police came and captured him in February 1933.[14] Before Netra Sen could be rewarded by the British, a revolutionary named Kironmoy Sen came into his house and beheaded him with da (a long knife).[15][16] As Netra Sen's wife was a big supporter of Surya Sen, she never disclosed the name of the revolutionary who killed Netra Sen. Before his eventual hanging on 12 January 1934 with another revolutionary named Tarakeswar Dastidar, both Sen and Dastidar underwent torture at the hands of the police.[15]

His last letter was written to his friends and said: "Death is knocking at my door. My mind is flying away towards eternity. At such a pleasant, at such a grave, at such a solemn moment, what shall I leave behind you? Only one thing, that is my dream, a golden dream – the dream of free India. Never forget the date, 18th of April, 1930, the day of the eastern Rebellion in Chittagong. Write in red letters in the core of your hearts the names of the patriots who have sacrificed their lives at the altar of India's freedom." [17]

In popular media

Indian film director Ashutosh Gowariker directed the film Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (2010) about Sen's life. Actor Abhishek Bachchan played the role of Sen.[18] Another film Chittagong (2012) directed by Bedabrata Pain was about Sen's armoury raid. Manoj Bajpayee played the leading role.[19]


Surya Sen is considered one of the leading revolutionaries in British India, and is a highly respected figure in both Bangladesh and India. Residential halls have been named after him at both the University of Dhaka[20] and the University of Chittagong.[21] Kolkata has a metro railway station and a street named after him as well.[22]

See also


  1. ^ Bowman, John S. (5 September 2000). Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture. Columbia University Press. p. 740. ISBN 978-0-231-50004-3.
  2. ^ Shah, Mohammad (2012). "Surya Sen, Mastarda". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  3. ^ Chakrabarti, Bidyut (1990). Subhas Chandra Bose and Middle Class Radicalism: A Study in Indian Nationalism, 1928-1940. I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd. p. 108. ISBN 1850431493.
  4. ^ a b Chandra, Bipan; Mukherjee, Mridula; Mukherjee, Aditya; Mahajan, Sucheta; Panikkar, K.N. (2016) [First published 1987]. India's Struggle for Independence (Revised and updated ed.). Penguin Books. p. 251. ISBN 978-0-14-010781-4.
  5. ^ "Death Sentence On Terrorists". The Glasgow Herald. 15 August 1933. p. 9. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  6. ^ a b Chandra, Bipan; Mukherjee, Mridula; Mukherjee, Aditya; Mahajan, Sucheta; Panikkar, K.N. (2016) [First published 1987]. India's Struggle for Independence (Revised and updated ed.). Penguin Books. p. 252. ISBN 978-0-14-010781-4.
  7. ^ "মাস্টারদা সূর্য সেনের জন্ম". Archived from the original on 23 March 2023. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
  8. ^ Mahotsav, Amrit. "Surya Sen". Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Archived from the original on 24 May 2023. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
  9. ^ Kumar, Vijay (2008). हर दिन पावन. लोकहित प्रकाशन. ISBN 9788189606350.
  10. ^ "Surya Sen". Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  11. ^ Karan, Rewati (22 March 2022). "Surya Sen — Chittagong's 'Master da' who led the raid that broke the 'armed might' of British". ThePrint. Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  12. ^ a b Chandra, Bipan; Mukherjee, Mridula; Mukherjee, Aditya; Mahajan, Sucheta; Panikkar, K.N. (2016) [First published 1987]. India's Struggle for Independence (Revised and updated ed.). Penguin Books. pp. 251–252. ISBN 978-0-14-010781-4.
  13. ^ Pradhāna, Rāmacandra (2008). Raj to Swaraj: A Textbook on Colonialism and Nationalism in India. Macmillan India. ISBN 978-0-230-63406-0.
  14. ^ a b Srinvantu magazine (Aurobindo Bhawan, 8, Shakespeare Sarani, Kolkata - 700 071. ed. 8 March 2021. p. 36)
  15. ^ a b "Chittagong British Armoury Raid 1930: Revolutionary, Surya Sen led the attack on April 18". India Today. 19 April 2021. Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  16. ^ বসু, ঋজু (15 August 2021). "75th Independence Day: ধর্মের ছোঁয়াচ ছাড়া বিয়ের স্বাধীনতা". Ananda Bazar. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  17. ^ Srinvantu magazine (Aurobindo Bhawan, 8, Shakespeare Sarani, Kolkata - 700 071. ed. 8 March 2021. p. 37)
  18. ^ "Ashutosh Gowariker's Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey to be released on December 3". Daily News & Analysis. 22 April 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  19. ^ "'Chittagong': Manoj Bajpayee took no money for the film". The Times of India. 28 September 2012. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  20. ^ "Home :: Dhaka University".
  21. ^ "University of Chittagong".
  22. ^ "Masterda Surya Sen Metro Station Kolkata". Retrieved 30 March 2022.