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‘Terrorist’ tag on Khudiram upsets Bengal villagers

- Youths from neighbouring state pour in to observe freedom fighter’s death anniversary in Bihar jail

Residents of Habibpur in Bengal’s West Midnapore district are upset over freedom fighter Khudiram Bose being dubbed a “terrorist” in a history book in their state.

A chapter titled “revolutionary terrorism” in the Class VIII history textbook in Bengal states the activities of freedom fighters like Shahid Khudiram Bose, Jatindranath Mukherjee and Prafulla Chaki as “extremism and terrorism”.

The Bihar government has of late been commemorating the death anniversary of the revolutionary freedom fighter at Khudiram Bose Memorial Central Jail in Muzaffarpur.

On Monday, the 106th death anniversary of Khudiram Bose was commemorated as martyr’s day inside the central jail at 3.52am, the time when he was hanged on August 11, 1908.

Around 20 youths led by Prakash Haldar of Habibpur village, arrived here late on Sunday night to pay obeisance to the departed soul inside the jail. Prakash said the villagers of Habibpur were shocked to find that the name of Khudiram Bose figured in a history book of Class VIII in Bengal as terrorist.

“My heart aches at the dubbing of Bose as a terrorist. The people of Bengal, particularly youths, would agitate over it and urge chief minister Mamata Banerjee to get the controversial portion deleted immediately,” said Prakash.

He added that they would also request President Pranab Mukherjee to intervene in the matter. “It is nice to see that the Bihar government observes the death anniversary as martyrs’ day with full state honours,” said Animesh Mandal of Habibpur. He travelled 650km from West Midnapore to Muzaffarpur to pay homage to the bust of Bose.

Since the Trinamul Congress came to power in Bengal in May 2011, the government stopped sending representatives to participate in the death anniversary of Bose, commemorated inside the jail every year.

“This shows that the Bengal government doesn’t like to pay respect to a revolutionary freedom fighter. They should learn lessons from the Bihar government, who declared the death anniversary as martyrs’ day,” said Obaidur Rahman of Habibpur.

However, the Bengal government on Monday set up a six-member expert committee to probe the allegation that freedom fighters like Bose, Jatindranath Mukherjee and Prafulla Chaki have been labelled as “terrorists” in the history books taught in Madhyamik schools.

“The committee will examine the observations of eminent historians on the matter and find out whether the allegation is true,” said Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee.

In the early hours of Monday, senior government officers, including divisional commissioner (Tirhut) Narmadeshwar Lal, deputy inspector-general A.K. Mishra, district magistrate Anupam Kumar, senior superintendent of police Jitendra Rana, accompanied by members of Bihar Bengali Samaj, paid their tributes to Khudiram at 3.52am at the jail where he was hanged by the Britons. A two-minute silence as homage was also observed at the hanging site for eternal peace of the departed soul.