When I read the life of Dhirendranath dutta , a bengladesh patriot, i could see how far way behind are our diplomats from foreign service/educationists who donot bring these types of stories to our knowledge. A person who opted to stay in pakistan and didnot run to india during the height of Pakistani armys crackdown(when maulana bhashani of Jamaat Islami was taking shelter in India)and died a martyr for bangladesh. It also has fascinating insights of some of our own calcutta life during those days.
MARTYR DIRENDRANATH DUTTA: Gleanings From The Formative Phase Of His Life And Glimpses Of His Political StruggleThursday March 01 2007 14:54:53 PM BDTM. Waheeduzzaman Manik ,US
AINTRODUCTION:Shaheed (Martyr) Dhirendranath Datta (1886-1971) was the harbinger of the formative phase of the Bengali language movement, and he had made history on February 25, 1948 by demanding Bengali to be recognized as one of the State languages of the new nation of Pakistan even though his proposal was meant to be an amendment permitting the use of Bengali along with Urdu and English in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (CAP). During the early years of Pakistan, he had remained an ardent defender of the Bengali language both in the CAP and the East Bengal Legislative Assembly (EBLA). He was a martyr of the liberation war of Bangladesh. Despite his pivotal role in jumpstarting the formative phase of the Bengali language movement during the most defining moment of Bangladesh’s quest for freedom and self-determination, his name has thus far remained essentially forgotten and neglected. It is also ironic that there exists a serious paucity of literature on the various phases of his life and political struggle. Dhirendranath Datta had a long and eventful life, spanning over more than eight decades. Given the fact that he had also a long career as a lawyer-politician both before and after 1947 (from 1911 till he was mercilessly murdered in April, 1971 by the genocidal Pakistani military), it is not possible to assess all of phases of his life within the parameter of a single article. Therefore, no effort will be made to provide any detailed discussion of his role as a parliamentarian in the Bengal Legislative Assembly (BLA) from 1937 to 1947, the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan from December 1946 till its dissolution on October 24, 1954, and the East Bengal Legislative Assembly (EBLA) from 1947 to 1958 within the scope of this paper. His struggling life in Pakistan from August 1947 through early April 1971 will not be brought within the parameter of this article. Rather, the main intent of this article is to appraise the making of the formative phase of his life (1886-1917) and to provide glimpses of his political struggle (1919-1947) with special reference to his participation in the Non-Violent and Non-cooperation Movement in early 1920s, the Civil Disobedience Movement in early 1930s, and the Satyagrah and ‘Quit India’ movements in early 1940s.GLEANINGS FROM THE FORMATIVE PHASE OF HIS LIFE Dhirendranath Datta was born on November 2, 1886 (16 Kartik, 1293, according to Bengali year) in a village named Ramrail, approximately three miles away from Brahmanbaria, a sub-divisional town of the then Tripura (then spelled as Tipperah) district (later renamed as Comilla district). His father, Jagabandhu Datta (1846-1932), worked in different parts of the then Tripura district as a ‘serestadar’ in the Munsif Court. There is no doubt that Ramrail was the birthplace of Dhirendranath Datta, and his father, Jagabandhu Datta, was also born in that village. However, his grandfather Padmalochan Datta (whose father’s name was Ramlochan Datta) was born in a village of the Maheshwardi Pargana of the then Dhaka district. In his unfinished autobiography in Bengali, Shaheed Dhirendranath Datter Atmakatha (Memoirs of Shaheed Dhirendranath Datta, Editors: Anisuzzaman, Rashid Haider, and Minar Mansur, Publisher: Shaheed Dhirendranath Smirtiraksha Parishad, 1995; henceforth referred to this book as Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoir.” With the exception of a few lines here and there, freehand translations of the excerpts from Dhirendranath Datter Atmakatha are mine]. Dhirendranath Datta recalled his lost family roots with the following words: “My grandfather, Padmalochan Datta, had moved to Ramrail village in the early decades of the 19th century. …. His paternal home was in a village in the Maheshwardi pargana of Dhaka district. His parents died when he was a young boy. So he had taken shelter in the house of his elder sister’s in-laws at Ramrail village. Since his elder sister and her husband (Roghunath Das) had no children of their own, they raised my grandfather [Padmalochan Datta] as their own son. With his brother-in-law’s support, he could also learn to read and write in Bengali. In those days, there was no opportunity to learn English in the rural areas. My grandfather had landed a job with the then Tripura state and decided to permanently settle in Ramrail. ….. My grandfather died at an early age leaving behind four young sons [Gaganchandra Datta, Jagabandhu Datta, Dinabandhu Datta, and Ananda Datta] and a daughter [Bamashundhori Datta-Sengupta].” Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p.160). Dhirendranath Datta did not mention the name of the village of his ancestors other than indicating the name of a Pargana that was located in the then Dhaka district. Now the question is: what was the location of Maheshwardi Pargana? In fact, Mahasharwardi Pargana was located on the eastern side of Sitallakhhya river (which originated from Brahmaputra river) consisting most of the areas of Shibpur, Monhardi, and Raipura Thanas, and parts of Palash Thana of today’s Narsingdi district. Since the main flow of the Old Brahmaputra River in those days used to flow through this area, Maheshwardi Pargana was located on both sides of that lost flow of Brahmaputra River. Most probably, Dhirendranath Datta’s grandfather (Padmalochan Datta) was born in an illustrious ‘Datta family’ who lived in the affluent village of ‘Datter-Gaon’ under Shibpur Thana of today’s Narsingdi district. Dhirendranath Datta was very intimate with his father (Jagabandhu Datta), and he was very inspired by his father’s idealism. To him, “his father was a symbol of friendship to all around you.” Although he was greatly motivated by his father’s sense of idealism and duty, he did not subscribe to his father’s religious orthodoxy even when he was in his youth. As he recalled many years later, “There was no doubt in my mind that my father was a symbol of all goodness. Yet he was very superstitious and a blind supporter of the practices of untouchability and caste system of Hindu religion. He was also a believer of the ritual of animal sacrifices to the altars of Gods and Goddesses even though I found him to be a very compassionate person in his various daily activities. He did not feel that the ritual of animal sacrifice was a cruelty to animal” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p.18). Dhirendranath Datta inadvertently did not mention his mother’s name in his memoirs. However, he mentioned that his father got married with a daughter of Bhubanmohan Rakhhit of Chapitala village under Sadar subdivision of Tripura district. As he recalled in his ‘Memoirs’: “My mother gave birth to four children. While my elder brother, Jatindranath Datta (died in 1905) was her first born, my elder sister was her second child. I was her third child. I had one younger sister. At the age 9, I was at Nabinagar with my father. My mother used to reside in our village home at Ramrail. After hearing the news about my mother’s serious illness, I was rushed to our village home. I found my mother in her deathbed. On next day, just before my mother had breathed her last, I was asked again and again by my respected relatives who were near her deathbed to call her ‘Ma’ (Mother) for the last time. Unfortunately, I could not do that because I was choked with emotion at that moment. My mother left us for good after uttering the name of ‘Bhagaban’ on July 20, 1895” (Dhiren Datta’s Memoirs,’ pp.162-163). Although Dhirendranath Datta was very young when his mother died, he could hardly erase the sad memory of her untimely death. He became very intimate with his elder brother (Jatindranath Datta) who died at a very young age in 1905. Dhirendranath Datta’s father got married again after his mother’s death. As he recalled in his memoirs, “My father got married again. He married the daughter of Mathuranath Datta of village Kumbha under Nasirnagar Thana of Brahmanbaria sub-division. This mother of mine gave birth to two daughters.” (Dhiren Datta’s Memoirs, p.163). It is evident from his ‘Memoirs’ that he treated his stepmother as his own mother. In fact, Dhirendranath Datta’s household included not only his wife and children but also his father (till he died on April 1, 1932), his stepmother (till her death on November 28, 1948), and his stepsisters (till they got married). He also provided opportunities for formal education for his stepsisters.At the age of 21, when he was a first year student of B.A. class at Ripon College in Calcutta, Dhirendranath Datta got married on December 7, 1906 with Surabala Das (her date of birth is unknown. Since she was approximately 14 years old at the time of her wedding in December 1906, she might have been born no later than 1892). As he recalled about his own wedding in his words: “On December 7, 1906, I got married when I was a student of B.A. class. Marriage during student life was a common practice in our society. In my instance, there was some financial predicament on my part. My father-in-law, Munshi Krishnakamol Das was a financially solvent person of village Purbadhoi of Muradnagar Thana under Comilla subdivision of the then Tripura district. He was a Bengali literate pleader. I also needed some monetary assistance to defray the expenses of my textbooks. However, early marriage was a social problem of our society. During our wedding, I was merely 21 years old and my wife had just turned 14” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs’ pp. 163-164). From the very beginning of his happy married life of approximately 42 years, Dhirendranath Datta demonstrated his love and admiration for his wife, and his deep affection for his wife can be gauged from his own words: “I had the misfortune of having seen the nature of superstition in our society after I was I fell sick due to Cholera within seven days after our wedding. My revered female members of our family called my newly wed wife ‘unlucky’ and blamed her for my cholera infliction. In reality, my wife was ‘embodiment of all goodness.’ In my entire life, I never heard her speaking ill of others. She had absorbed all goodness of others, and she was always eager to offer her services. She had empathy for people in distress. She could not pursue any formal education because the conservative family in which she was born used to consider female education as a sin. However, she had some modest amount of literacy as she could read and write in Bengali. Her thoughts and ideas were extraordinary. Despite her modest level of literacy, she could express herself in beautiful language. Her elder brother Late Lalitchandra Das used to tell me, ‘it is unfortunate that your wife Surabala was born in our family as a female member. If she would have been born as a male member, she would have adorned our family as she was the best and the brightest amongst us’” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs, p.164). Dhirendranath Datta and Surabala (Das) Datta had seven daughters (the seventh daughter died in her childhood) and two sons (Sanjeeb Datta and Dilip Datta). With the exception of his first daughter Ashalata Datta (born in 1911), all of his daughters had received formal education. His eldest son, Sanjeeb Datta, a writer and a journalist, was born in 1919 and died on April 27, 1991. Sanjeeb Datta’s wife Protitee (Ghatak) Datta and their daughter Aroma Datta and son Rahul Datta live in Bangladesh. (Proteeti Datta, born in Dhaka on November 4, 1925 happened to be the twin sister of famous film director Ritwik Ghatak). Dhirendranath Datta’s youngest son, Dilip Datta, was born in 1926. He was abducted along with his father on March 29, 1971 and later murdered in late March or in early April 1971 by the genocidal Pakistani military. Surabala Datta, wife of Dhirendranath Datta, had breathed her last on August 12, 1949.At the age of 7, Dhirendranath Datta was brought from Ramarial to Kasba in 1893 to live with his father. He moved to Nabinagar in the autumn of 1894 due to his father’s transfer to Nabinagar Munsif Court. At the age of only 9, he was devastated due to his mother’s sudden death on July 20, 1895. Initially he was a student of Nabinagar Middle (English) School and later studied in the newly established Nabinagar High (English) School, and he passed the Entrance Examination from Nabinagar High (English) School in 1904. It is evident from his own recollections that he was a mediocre student but he never failed any examination during his entire student life in schools and colleges. Nobody can claim to be born as a patriot or a nationalist. However, there exists credible evidence to suggest that Dhirendranath Datta, right from his boyhood days, was known for his patriotic fervour and a genuine concern for his country and other human beings. During his school days, he was greatly inspired by reading stories about Iswarchandra Vidyasagar’s fearlessness, selflessness, and respectfulness to his mother. Ashinikumar Datta’s ‘Bhaktiyoga’ and Rangalal Bondhopdhay’s patriotic poems were also great sources of inspiration for him (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p. 18).Soon after passing the Entrance exam, Dhirendranath Datta went to Calcutta at the end of June 1904 to pursue higher education, and in early July 1904, he got himself admitted into F.A. class (Intermediate) at Ripon College in Calcutta. In his F.A. class, he studied many subjects including English, Sanskrit, Mathematics, Science, Chemistry, History, and Logic etc. From the outset of his college days, he was greatly charmed by Surendranath Banerjee (1848-1925), the founder of Ripon College. As he recalled in his ‘Memoirs’, “I took admission into Ripon College to be in contact with a teacher of Surendranath Banarjee’s stature and caliber. After entering the College compound, I discovered that the college was housed in a makeshift thatched house that seemed to be inferior, in many ways, to my rural high school building (at Nabinagar). However, soon after the professors started teaching, it seemed to me that the dark classrooms were filled with light of knowledge and wisdom. My head still bows down out of respect and gratitude to the dedicated teachers who were recruited by Surendranath Banarjee” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs’ p. 19). Although Ripon College did not have impressive buildings of any kind in those days, Dhirendranath Datta was deeply impressed by the dedication and teaching quality of the distinguished instructional staff of the college. At that time, Ramendrasunder Trivedi was the Principal of Ripon College. Among the luminaries of the teaching staff of Ripon College who seemed to have left a lasting impression on him had included: Surendranath Banarjee (English), Ramendrasunder Trivedi (Chemistry), Janakinath Bhattacharya (English), Lalgopal Chakravarti (Philosophy), Haran Bandhopadhay (Mathematics), Khetramohan Bandhopadhay (Mathematics), Bipinbihari Gupta (History), Narendra Roy (English), and Jitendranath Banarjee. As he recalled in his memoirs: “All of them were the outstanding products of Calcutta University. Instead of accepting lucrative jobs elsewhere at higher salary, they had voluntarily joined the teaching staff of Ripon College with a token remuneration in order to facilitate higher learning among the poor but meritorious students. Each of those professors was a great symbol of sacrifice and dedication. I was deeply impressed by their simple style of living, their simple dress, and their scholarly approach to teaching. Each of those distinguished teachers of Ripon College was a living symbol of plain living and high thinking” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p. 20). Despite his keen interest in continuing his education in Calcutta, Dhirendranath Datta had to seek transfer from Ripon College to Jagannath College in Dhaka city in 1905 due to his illness and due to some unforeseen financial difficulties of his joint family. After studying in Dhaka’s Jagannath College for a couple of months in 1905 (his health was not getting well in Dhaka), he got himself transferred to Comilla Intermediate College (while Ananda Roy was the founder of this College, and at that time, the Principal of this college was Sattendranath Bose) as a second year student of F.A. class. Despite his illness, he had passed the F.A. Examination from Comilla Intermediate College in 1906. Dhirendranath Datta quickly returned to Calcutta in 1906 to pursue a B.A. degree at Ripon College, and he felt elated after he could resume his studies in Calcutta among his favorite teachers. Among his former teachers who were still in the teaching staff of Ripon College included: Surendranath Banerjee, Lalgopal Chakravarti, and Janakinath Bhattacharya. After receiving his B.A. degree from Ripon College in 1908, he also studied law for two more years in the same college, and received a B.L. degree in 1910. In his memoirs, he fondly recapitulated this phase of his student life at Ripon College with the following words: “I felt myself enormously fortunate after I got another rare opportunity to be in touch with the dedicated and learned teachers of the college” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p. 25). Dhirendranath Datta often characterized Surendranath Banerjee as the ‘Father of the Indian Nationalism.’ His admiration for Surendranath Banerjee can be gauged from his own words: “Then started the anti-partition (of Bengal) and Swadeshi movement in 1905. Surendranath Banarjee, my teacher, was in the vanguard of the anti-partition movement who declared, ‘We shall unsettle the settled fact.’ In those turbulent days, a lot of protest meetings used to be held in Calcutta, and I used to attend each of those meetings. There were no loudspeakers to be used in the public meetings in those bygone days. If I could somehow know that Surendranath Banarjee was scheduled to address the meeting, then I used to arrive at the meeting spots three to four hours before the scheduled time just to sit in the front row. In those days, I was engrossed with the idea of liberating our country from the subjugation of the colonial rulers” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ pp. 27-28). Although Dhirendranath Datta was a great admirer and an astute supporter of Surendranath Banrejee, he did not subscribe to his teacher’s collaborative support for the British Government during the First World War. In fact, Surendranath Banarjee’s pro-British speech at the Comilla conference of the Bengal provincial Congress in 1914 had seriously anguished him. Dhirendranath Datta’s deep sense of shock due to his former teacher’s pro-British stance can be gauged from his own words: “I felt a sense of intolerable pain and frustration after I heard Surendranath Banerjee’s advocacy for the British Government. I was greatly shocked to hear that the same person was asking us to render our support and assistance to the British during this war who was once characterized by the people as ‘the Father of the Indian Nationalism’, and ‘the leader of the anti-partition [of Bengal] movement.’ It was ironic that he was the same Surendranath Banerjee who was characterized as ‘the greatest orator of India’ and ‘Surrender Not.’ I felt deeply hurt to see that he was requesting the people of our country to offer assistance to the war efforts of the British Government” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p.37).Dhirendranath Datta received a life-long commitment to social service during his student life in Calcutta from Barrister Abdullah Rasul [the name should be ABDUR RASUL (1872-1917), not Abdullah Rasul as indicated in Dhirendranath Datta’s Memoirs. Since Dhirendranath Datta had the deepest regards and admiration for Barrister Abdur Rasul, this writer (M. Waheeduzzaman Manik] wants to take this opportunity to add a little more information on this forgotten hero of the Indian nationalist movement. There hardly exists any credible information on Abdur Rasul, a worthy son of our soil. However, there is a short write-up on Abdur Rasul in the Banglapedia (authored by Golam Kibria Bhuiyan). Barrister Abdur Rasul was born in 1872 in a zaminder family of a village named Guniauk under the jurisdiction of Nasirnagar Thana of the then Brahmanbaria sub-division of Tripura district. According to the Banglapedia, Abdur Rasul “lost his father Golam Rasul in his childhood but his mother raised him well. He was sent to England for higher studies after he had passed the Entrance Examination in 1888. He took the BA degree in 1896 and the MA degree in 1898 in England. Abdur Rasul was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1898. While in London, he became acquainted with noted Indians like Ali Imam, Syed Hasan Imam, Aurobindo Ghosh and others. Returning to India he got himself enrolled at the Calcutta High Court in 1899. Abdur Rasul was made an honorary lecturer in International Law at the University of Calcutta.” There is no doubt that Barrister Abdur Rasul was a nationalist leader before his premature death only at the age of 45 in 1917. As noted in the Banglapedia, “Abdur Rasul was opposed to the Partition of Bengal, 1905. He presided over the Bengal Congress Conference held at Barisal in 1906. In collaboration with Abdul Halim Gaznavi, Abul Kashem and Mujibur Rahman Khan, he published the Weekly Mussalman in 1906. In 1909 Abdur Rasul joined the Bengal Provincial Muslim League and in 1912 presided over the Bengal Provincial Conference at Chittagong. He attended the annual session of the All India Muslim League at Lucknow and presided over the annual session of the Bengal Presidency Muslim League at Burdwan. He was elected to the Bengal Legislative Council from the Muslim Constituency of Chittagong division. In 1917 Abdur Rasul was elected the Secretary of the Bengal Presidency Muslim League but he died in the same year at the early age of 45”]. It seems that Barrister Abdur Rasul had also made a lasting impression on Dhirendranath Datta. He acknowledged even in his old age that Abdur Rasul was his ‘political guru’ and a ‘role model’ for instilling a passion for social service in him. His love and admiration for Abdur Rasul can be gleaned from his own words: “I came in close contact with Mr. Abdur Rasul when I became the Secretary of the Tripura Hitashadhanee Shava. His residence was at 14, Royal Street. Educated [in England] in English language and literature, this learned man (Abdur Rasul) led a very plain and simple life, and he had earned deep respect in his legal profession for his honesty and integrity. Although he lived in Calcutta, his mind used to wander around his village. His daughter was his only child, and he used to tell me quite often, ‘Dhiren, once my daughter gets married, I will give up my practice in Calcutta to start a rural living in my own village home which is located in a remote village named Guniauk of Nasirnagar Thana of Tripura district.’ His cherished desire was to offer assistance to the distressed people, and to better understand their problems he wanted to develop intimacy with the poor, distressed, and illiterate cultivators and laborers. His nick name was ‘Kanchan Mia,’ and indeed he glittered like a ‘kanchan.’ He was a true lover of common masses, and my own commitment to service to the people was greatly inspired by him. Indeed, he was my true political guru’’ (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ pp. 28). After finishing his education at Ripon College, Dhirendranath Datta decided to go back to his home district to live and work, and he made this determination instead of seeking a job or pursuing a legal career in Calcutta, a city where he lived and studied for almost six years. He left Calcutta on February 27, 1910 to start a teaching job in a high school that was located in a remote village named Bangra under the jurisdiction of Muradnagar Thana of the then Tripuara district. He worked there as the Assistant Headmaster of Bangra Umalochan High (English) School from March 1, 1910 through February 2, 1911. Although he enjoyed his teaching job in that rural high school, he decided to quit this job to pursue a law practice at Comilla town. Given the fact that he got married when he was a student of B.A. class on December 7. 1906, he had a family to take care. He might have also realized quite early that a pittance from a teaching position in a rural high school was inadequate to defray the minimum expenses of an extended family. Dhirendranath Datta formally started his law practice on February 8, 1911 at Comilla town, and he continued to be a distinguished lawyer there till his brutal murder in early April 1971 in the hands of the murderous Pakistani army. His public service ethos and motto of life were conditioned by his social service orientation, concern for his country, and compassion for common masses. In his old age, Dhirendranath Datta fondly recalled the advice that he had received from his political mentor Barrister Abdur Rasul: “I started my law practice at Comilla town on February 8, 1911. Late Abdur Rasul advised me: ‘you will serve the common people through practicing your chosen legal profession. Social service should be your motto of life, and legal profession will provide you the opportunity to achieve that goal.’ In those days, there were many dedicated souls in legal profession. I also started my legal career with a promise to serve the people through my profession with a great deal of dedication. …. Before I embarked my legal practice, I had promised to adhere to two fundamental principles: first, I will try my level best to offer social service to the people through a fair practice of my legal profession, and second, my professional duty and responsibility, as a lawyer, will not be to encourage litigation but to prevent it” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ pp. 34-35). GLIMPSES OF HIS POLITICAL STRUGGLEDhirendranath Datta’s debut in Bengal politics dates back to his student days at Ripon College. His subsequent political life was also enormously conditioned by life experiences and insights that he had gained during his student days in Calcutta from 1904 to 1910. He was a first year F.A. student in 1905 when he got involved with the anti-British movement to annul the partition of Bengal. In those turbulent years, both the Indian National Congress and the Bengal provincial Congress were dominated by two groups of leaders. While Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920), Bipin Chandra Pal (1870-1932), and Aurobindo Ghosh (1872-1950) led the extremist group, Surendranath Banerjee was the leader of the moderates. Dhirendranath Datta was the supporter of the moderate group in the Congress. However, he was also deeply inspired by the dedication and oratory of Bipin Chandra Pal, the leader of the extremists. Although he empathized with the goals and objectives of the revolutionary and extremist groups of the anti-British movement, he seems to have shunned the violent methods and means of achieving those lofty goals. He was a true believer of constitutional path for achieving nationalistic goals even though he often doubted whether or not the independence could be readily achieved only through constitutional means. He remained a life-long member of the Congress party till the partition of India in August 1947. Dhirendranath Datta worked as a volunteer at the annual meeting of the Indian National Congress which was held in Calcutta in December, 1906, and he was deeply inspired by Dadabhai Naorojee’s demand for Swaraj (self-rule) for India. In 1908, he also attended the annual conference of the Bengal provincial Congress at Boharampur. Although he was deeply inspired by the Congress demand for boycotting foreign goods, he had protested when some delegates to the Congress conference at Boharampur proposed for the creation of the so-called ‘Bentwood Chair’. As a budding politician, he took active part at the annual conference of the Bengal provincial Congress that was held at Comilla, his hometown, in 1914 (March-April), and among other top Congress leaders, Surendranath Banarjee also addressed that meeting. Dhirendranath Datta actively participated in the deliberations of the social conference that was also concurrently held at Comilla during the 1914 provincial Congress meeting, and he had opposed a proposal for ‘widow marriage.’ He regretfully recapitulated that incident in the following words: “I am saying this with a sense of shame that I had opposed the question of widow marriage even though I completely changed my view later about widow marriage.” In fact, he became a champion of various social reforms even within his own religion throughout his political career especially during the years between the two World Wars. Whenever there was a natural disaster or other emergency situation, Dhirendranath Datta was always willing to be there to volunteer his services. For instance, he worked as a volunteer during the devastating flood in 1914 and distributed relief materials among the flood victims of various villages of Tripura district. Since the anti-British movement had gained momentum in 1915, many Congress leaders including Dhirendranath Datta started facing police harassment and intimidation. The police searched his house and confiscated all of his books and reading materials on ‘home rule.’ However, he was not willing to be bullied around by the police. As he recalled that incident in his own words: “Many Congress leaders were put behind bars in 1915. I was not arrested but my house was searched by the police, and they took way my books and papers on home rule. A Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) was leading the search and seizure in my house. He was promoted to the present rank from the position of an ordinary constable. After seeing my books and papers on home rule, he quipped, ‘Dhiren Babu, you seem to be an agitator.’ I quickly responded, ‘But for my agitation, you would not have been the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP). You enjoy the benefit of the agitation; we receive the brunt of it.’ I think my sarcastic comments made him speechless” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p.39). Dhirendranath Datta could not attend the Bhabanipur conference of the Bengal provincial Congress in 1917 that was presided over by Chittaranjan Das (C.R. Das). However, he was greatly motivated by perusing the presidential speech which was delivered by C.R. Das in Bengali underscoring the paramount importance of redressing the vexing problems of the Bengal peasantry. As a delegate from Tripura district, he attended the Bengal provincial Congress in April 1919 at Mymensingh, and on his back to Comilla, he was devastated after hearing the news about the barbaric massacre of many innocent and unarmed civilians by the brute British force on April 13, 1919 at Jalianwalabagh. It is worth noting that the Jalianwalabah massacre of 1919 was a turning point in the history of the nationalist movement in India. In response to this infamous massacre, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) had launched a Non-violent and Non-cooperation movement against the British Government, and he appealed to the distinguished leaders of all provinces to make this movement a success. The gist of Gandhi’s Non-violent and Non-cooperation movement was that all Indians must cease to render any type of co-operation to the British Government. Initially, Chittaranjan Das (C.R. Das 1870-1925), the most popular leader in the then Bengal, had some reservations about the relevance and usefulness of Gandhi’s passive non-cooperation movement. However, C.R. Das decided to fully support Gandhi’s Non-violent and Non-cooperation movement in the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress in 1920. Chittaranjan Das gave up his lucrative law practice as a gesture of his full-blown support to the historic Non-violent and Non-cooperation movement, and until his arrest in later part of 1921, he sincerely worked hard to make this movement a success. He started touring various districts of the then province of Bengal for enlisting support for the movement. In a mammoth public meeting at Comilla town on March 6, 1921, Chittaranjan Das gave a clarion call to the people of Bengal province to render their full support to the Non-cooperation movement. Specifically, he urged the lawyers to boycott their legal practice for at lease three months, and requested them to tour various villages in order to: enlist mass support for the Congress by spreading its goals and objectives, generate mass enthusiasm for the Non-violent and Non-cooperation by explaining the implications of the movement, launch a membership drive for the Congress party among the masses, and collect money for the ‘Million-Rupee Tilak Fund.’ He also urged the people to develop food programs and garner mass support for eradication of the practice of untouchability. Dhirendranath Datta was present in that historic meeting on August 6, 1921, and he was deeply impressed by the mesmerizing speech of C.R. DasDhirendranath Datta was already an admirer of Gandhi’s non-violent approach to political struggle, he was greatly inspired and motivated by personal sacrifice and commitment of C.R. Das. In response to the instructions of C.R. Das, he decided to give up his law practice in 1921 for three months to work for the non-cooperation movement. As he recalled in his ‘Memoirs,’ “I was present in that historic meeting on March 6, 1921 at Comilla in which C.R. Das urged the lawyers to give up their practice for at least three months to make the non-cooperation movement a success. I could not respond to this request right away but my friend and a fellow lawyer, Haldhar Das-Gupta instantly decided to give up my law practice. However, I decided on next day at the residence of Akhilchandra Datta to give up my law practice, and I voluntarily agreed to give up my legal practice for at least 3 months in order to disseminate the messages of the non-cooperation movement” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p. 42).During that turbulent time, a large public meeting was held at Brahmanbaria that was presided over by Akhilchandra Datta in which fiery speeches were delivered by many leaders including Dhirendranath Datta’s friend and a fellow Congress party worker, Bipin Bihari Gosh (of village Patai), and the revolutionary leader Lalitmohan Barman. Dhirendranath Datta attended that meeting with a corp of volunteers. As per the party directive, he was given the responsibility of organizing the support for the Congress-led non-violent and non-cooperation movement in and around Chandura area of the then Brahmanbaria subdivision. Dhirendranath Datta described the experiences of those turbulent days in his own words: “First I started to work in Chandhira area of Brahmanbaria subdivision, and Sri Jogeshchandra Roy, a revolutionary leader of that area, was my special assistant. After having some light breakfast in the morning, we used to go out for the entire day to spread the messages of the Congress party among the people of various villages and localities through holding meetings and discussion forums. Our principal tasks were as follows: unity between Hindus and Muslims, giving up of untouchability (unsociability), the introduction of ‘Khadi,’ non-cooperation with the British, and membership drive among the rural people for the Congress party. I fully realized that no lofty goal could ever be accomplished without the conscious and spontaneous support and cooperation of the common masses. Although we often confronted resistance against our daunting task of disseminating the party messages, we tried our best to tackle that kind of situation in a non-violent way. In fact, these grass root activities had enhanced our practical experiences. We tried to establish Congress party committees in various rural areas. Before this effort, the Congress party was confined within the city intellectuals, especially among the Hindu intellectuals. Our effort for mass contact [in 1921] was the first attempt to forge Hindu-Muslim unity” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ pp. 43-44).There were numerous instances of police brutalities, harassments, arrests, incarcerations, and jail terms during the non-cooperation movement. Like many political activists, Dhirendranath Datta was also subjected to harassment. As he narrated many years later: “Mr. T. Ellis was the Sub-divisional Officer (SDO) of Brahmanbaria (who later became the Chief Justice of the Dhaka High Court and Governor of East Pakistan), and at his behest, many political activists were arrested and jailed. In fact, ‘Bande-matorom’ slogan used to make him crazy. Mr. Ellis used to pry for secret information about my political activities, and I came to know from a former President of the Union Board that he was looking for an opportunity to get me arrested and then put me on trial in his court under section 124 (A). Since I used to hold meetings in the remote villages, it was difficult for the police intelligence branch to collect accurate information about my political activities. ………People in Chandura area used to call me ‘Swadeshi Babu.’………After working and staying for some days in Chandura area, I came to my own village Ramrail. Ghandhiji started publishing the “Young India’ during the non-cooperation movement, and every morning I used read this journal. I used to be greatly moved and encouraged by Gandhijis’s message, and his language uplifted my hope, and I used to imagine that freedom from the alien rulers is on our doorstep. I felt like thinking that as if the stigma of colonial subjugation was withering away” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p. 44).During the non-cooperation movement, the workers of the Assam-Bengal Railway and the teagarden workers in Assam had staged strikes, and those two separate strikes had caused serious problems for the British Government. In spite of various stringent measures against the striking workers, most of them left their places of employment. However, many of those striking workers had to endure untold miseries on their way to their respective homes. Many of them were stranded in various places. For instance, while many of them had assembled at Chandpur, one such displaced group of striking workers got stranded at Akhaura Railway junction. Dhirendranath Datta was tasked to provide food and shelter to those who were stranded in and around Akhaura. With the assistance of local people, he had arranged food and shelter for those displaced workers. Indeed, he had provided a yeoman’s service during that crisis even though he himself had to endure physical hardship due to the stoppage of train communication at that time. As he recalled many years later: “The country was passing through a period of excitement, and I felt really elated and proud to be part of that tumultuous time. I still remember that I had to go to Comilla from Akhaura but no train was plying due to strike. Finding no other means of communication, I decided to walk to Comilla, and I left Akhuara early in the morning. I walked for the whole day, and on the wayside I had also arranged food for some tea garden coolies. I reached my home at Comilla in the evening but I was very tired. I walked thirty miles on that day literally in empty stomach. Yet I did not feel any pain due to my exhaustion. Rather, my mind was full of hope and inspiration” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p. 45).At a personal level, Dhirendranath Datta’s direct participation in the Non-cooperation movement gave him a rare opportunity to practice politics at the grass root level in the rural areas even though his extended family endured untold financial difficulties. He went through a social and political transformation during this historic movement. In fact, his participation in the non-cooperation movement was his first experience in a political struggle that involved a great deal of personal risks and sacrifices. As he recalled about his participation in the non-cooperation movement: “This was my first experience of struggle in politics. My extended family had experienced tremendous financial difficulties due to the fact that I had given up my legal practice to join the movement. At that time, my family that included my [step] mother, [retired] father, my wife, our four children, and two sisters had to depend on my income. My father, however, used to receive 32 Rupees per month as his pension. Despite the desperate pecuniary circumstance of the family, my family members never stood in the way of my participation in the [Non-cooperation] movement. All of my family members felt proud for enduring those financial difficulties. I and my family had really enjoyed the pleasure of sacrifice for achieving some lofty goals. Initially I gave up my law practice for three months but I did not resume my practice for more than six months” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p. 46).As a delegate from Tripura district, Dhirendranath Datta attended the Goya session of the Indian National Congress in 1922. By mid-1920s, Dhirendranath Datta had emerged as a champion of various social reforms even within his own religion. Throughout his political career, especially during the years between the two World Wars, he was an avowed critic of the practice of untouchability and the caste system, and in his personal life, he also shunned all forms of religious orthodoxies. In 1921, he was instrumental in founding the ‘Mukti Sangha’ at Comilla, the principal aim of which was to eradicate untouchability and caste system from the Hindu society. In 1923, he was also involved in the establishment of ‘Abhoy Ashram’ at Comilla. During the 1924 election to the Bengal Legislative Council, he actively supported and campaigned in various parts of Tripura district in favour of the Congress nominee Akhilchandra Datta. He also worked hard to forge a durable unity between Hindus and Muslims. He was greatly inspired by many admirable efforts of C.R. Das and his Swarajja party toward forging Hindu-Muslim unity. He was deeply shocked after he heard the news about the sad and sudden death of C.R. Das on June 16, 1925. He was very concerned about the deteriorating communal situation in various regions of Bengal in 1926 and 1927. During a communal riot in 1927 at Comilla, he worked relentlessly to halt the march of communal antagonism between Hindus and Muslims. During early 1930s, Dhirendranath Datta directly participated in the historic Civil Disobedience Movement for which he was imprisoned for several times. In fact, he was in the vanguard of the civil disobedience movement in the then Tripura district. In its historic Lahore Session in late December 1929, the Indian National Congress had demanded ‘Purna Swaraj’ (full independence) for India, and it was stipulated that if the British Government failed to grant full independence to India by January 26, 1930 then a Civil Disobedience movement would be launched by all provinces of India for achieving full independence. Dhirendranath Datta made a conscious determination to follow through the Congress directives at any cost. When the time for real action against the British came on January 26, 1930, he wholeheartedly supported and followed all directives of the Congress through his direct participation in the freedom movement. Like many cities and townships throughout India, Comilla town was also filled with much excitement and enthusiasm. Dhirendranath Datta had played a leadership role in organizing protest marches on that momentous day. In fact, Dhiremdranath Datta was committed to the cause of the Civil Disobedience movement even before January 26, 1930. For instance, his commitment to the cause of freedom of his country can be gauged from his own conversation that he had on January 20, 1930 with the then District Judge of Tripura: “Mr. N.L. Hindley, the District Judge, used to live in a Bunglow that was located just on the west side of my own residence. He told me, ‘today you have declared a war against the British the way we had declared war against the Germans in 1914.’ In response, I said, ’this is our non-violent war, and this is a war to win our independence for which we are ready to sacrifice our lives but we are not taking anybody’s life.’ He [Mr. Hindley], however, expressed his doubt whether or not we could remain non-violent in our freedom struggle. In response to this comment, I said, our leader Mahatmaji has given us order to carry on the movement in non-violent ways, and we are determined to demonstrate to the whole world that we can successfully lead and sustain a non-violent freedom movement.” (Dhiren Datta’s ‘Memoirs,’ p. 54). The Civil Disobedience movement took a new twist in March 1930 when Mahatma Gandhi decided to violate the so-called ‘Salt Law.’ Characterizing the ‘Salt Tax’ as “the most inhuman tax the ingenuity of man can devise,” and declaring the ‘Salt Law’ as a ‘lawless law,’ Mahatma Gandhi embarked a long-march on March 12, 1930 from his Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi (popularly known as Dandi March). Dhirendranath Datta went to Noakhali to organize protest meetings and demonstrations in support of the civil disobedience movement. In the midst of the volatile political situation, he also attended the Bengal provincial Congress session at Rajshahi in April 1930 as a delegate from Tripura district. During that time, he also decided to give up his legal practice for the time being.Dhirendranath Datta had organized a huge mass procession at Comilla town on July 2, 1930 protesting Motilal Nehru’s arrest. In defiance of the police order, the protestors under his leadership had refused to disperse the procession. On that day, Dhirendranath Datta was mercilessly lathi charged by the then British Superintendent of Police of Tripura district. Yet he was not willing to disperse the protest march. Dhirendranath Datta and a host of other protestors were arrested on July 2, 1930 for defying the police orders. After keeping him for several hours in the police station, the law enforcement authority presented him and his fellow protestors at the Deputy Magistrate’s Court in the afternoon of the same day. As a gesture of good will, the presiding Magistrate had expressed his desire to release them on bail on the condition that they have to attend the Court on the scheduled dates for trial. Dhirendranath Datta firmly replied, “I refuse to recognize you as a Court.” The entire Court was filled with ‘Bande Matoram’ slogans. He was then sent to Comilla jail in the evening of July 2, 1930. After 15 days, he was summarily tried by a Court inside the Comilla jail on July 17, 1930 in which he had again refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Court. This summary Court, presided over by the then S.D.O. of Comilla, Nepalchandra Sen, who was his former roommate and classmate, had sentenced him to three months’ rigorous imprisonment. This was his first experience of imprisonment. After he served his prison term in Comilla and Dum Dum jails, he was released in mid-October, 1930.On his return to Comilla, Dhirendranath Datta found out that the ferocity of the first phase of the Civil Disobedience movement started waning by that time even though there were instances of secret killings, revolts, and even armed rebellions against the British. In fact, the unconditional release of Gandhi and other top leaders of the Congress from jails on January 25, 1931, the so-called dialogue between Lord Irwin and Gandhi, and the signing of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact in March 1931 brought some kind of a truce between the British Government and the Congress. In view of such circumstance, Gandhi agreed to suspend the civil disobedience movement for the time being. Gandhi’s willingness to attend the 2nd Round Table Conference that was to be convened in London in September 1931 also slowed down the intensity of the civil disobedience movement. Like many freedom fighters, Dhirendranath Datta also decided to support his party’s stand on the anti-British movement even though he had serious reservation about the sincerity of the British Government. In good faith, he had resumed his law practice in November 1931, and during that winter, he also contested an election to be a member of the Comilla Municipality in which he was overwhelmingly elected from a Muslim dominated constituency. This was his first gesture of holding an elective position in a local body. The dismal failure of the Second Round Table Conference in December 1931 and the arrest of Gandhi immediately after his return to India on January 4, 1932 had given birth to the final phase of the Civil Disobedience Movement. Dhirendranath Datta was arrested from his Comilla residence on January 9, 1932, and he was kept in jail for one month without any trial. This was his second jail term. He was released on February 8, 1932 but to his utter surprise, however, he was served with a notice at the jail gate that stipulated serious restrictions on his civil liberties. He was required to report to the police station on a daily basis and he was banned from addressing any kind of public gathering. After coming home from jail, he found his 86-year old father in deathbed, and seeing his father’s deteriorating condition he fully understood that his father’s days were numbered. Although it was a really heartbreaking moment for him, he decided not to follow the conditions of his release from jail. Aimed at violating the conditions of the notice, Dhirendranath Datta addressed a meeting in the evening at the Bar Library on the same day he was released from jail. Nor did he report to the police station. He was arrested at 8 p.m. on February 8, 1932. After he was kept in jail for a couple of days, he was put on trial in front of a magistrate inside the Comilla jail. Dhirendranath Datta demonstrated his uncompromising commitment to the cause of the civil disobedience movement by refusing to take part in that trial but he had issued a pungent statement in which he stated the following: “The notice that has been served upon me is intended to kill the man in me and I have prevented this murder by disobeying the notice.” He was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one year. This was his third jail term. He was immediately transferred to Dum Dum jail. During this jail term, he had endured a great deal of personal tragedies and family hardships. His father breathed his last in the early hours of April 1, 1932. He was grief-stricken inside jail after receiving the sad news of his father’s passing away on April 2, 1932. His family also went through severe financial crisis during his imprisonment. Dhirendranath Datta was released from jail in February, 1933 after he had served the full term of his sentence. On his return to Comilla in February, 1933, he found out that his family had to move out of his Comilla residence and started living in his village home under extreme financial difficulties. By 1933, the Civil Disobedience movement died out. He was trying to rise up from the ashes by resuming his law practice. At the beginning of 1936, Dhirendranath Datta contested and won a membership of the Comilla District Board. This was his second experience of seeking and winning an elective office in the local body. During the historic provincial legislative election in 1937, Dhirendranath Datta was overwhelmingly elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly (BLA). He had courted arrests twice during his first tenure as a Member of the Bengal Legislative Assembly, and he was imprisoned for nine months on each occasion. He took active part in the Satayagrah movement that was launched by Mahatma Gandhi as a protest against the War Policy of the British Government. His determination to fight for a principled cause is obvious from the fact that it was him who gave an advance notice to the then District Magistrate of Tripura that he would loudly speak against the British war policy on December 14, 1940 in front of the post office at Brahmanbaria to generate public opinion against the British Government. In fact, he was the first prominent Satayagrahi of the then Brahmanbaria subdivision who had courted such an arrest. As expected, he was arrested as soon as he started shouting anti-war slogans at the scheduled place on December 14, 1940. After being interned in the sub-jail at Brahmanbaria for a few days, he was put on a trial there in which he did not participate. He was jailed for nine months, and he was shifted from Brahmanbaria sub-jail to Comilla jail. This was his fourth jail term. He was released in September 1941 after he spent nine months in Comilla, Dum Dum, and Alipur jails. Dhirendranath Datta also courted arrest during the historic ‘Quit India Movement’ that demanded the immediate granting of independence to India after the Cripps mission had failed. He was arrested when he was on his way to preside over a protest meeting at Comilla on August 16, 1942. He was put on a trial in which he refused take part, and like the previous time, he was awarded a nine-month prison term. This was his fifth and last imprisonment under the British Government before the partition of India in 1947. He was interned in Comilla jail for the entire period of his jail term. However, he fell seriously ill during his imprisonment and he was bed-ridden in the jail hospital for three months. He was released from Comilla jail at the end of April 1943. He was greatly distressed to see the deteriorating economic situation in the then Bengal, and from mid-1943 he started collecting and distributing food, medical services, and other humanitarian relief materials among the famine victims in various villages of the then Tripura district. Although Dhirendranath Datta had to spend 18 months behind the bar as a political prisoner during his first tenure (1937-1945) as the member of the Bengal Legislative Assembly, he was one of the most articulate and committed parliamentarian at a critical juncture of the history of the Indian subcontinent. Despite the fact that he was in the opposition in the provincial legislature, he was actively involved in the passage of the Bengal Tenancy Act, the Bengal Debtors’ Act, and the Bengal Money Lenders’ Act. In 1940, he was elected as the Deputy Leader (Kiran Shankar was elected as the Leader) of the Congress parliamentary party in the Bengal Legislative Assembly. It was Dhirendranath Datta who brought a ‘Cut Motion’ during the budget session in June 1945 that literally led to the downfall of Khwaja Nazimuddin’s provincial Government. Pursuant to the fall of Khawja Nazimuddin Ministry, the then Governor of Bengal had dissolved the provincial assembly in November 1945 and declared to hold the assembly elections during early (February-March) 1946. As a Congress candidate, Dhirendranath Datta was reelected in 1946 to the Bengal Legislative Assembly. On behalf of the Congress party, Kiranshankar Roy and Dhirendranath Datta were elected to be the Leader and Deputy Leader respectively of the opposition party in the assembly. Since the possibility of partition of India and the province of Bengal was gaining ground in 1946, he had to take some of the most critical decisions of his entire political career. A life-long champion of Hindu-Muslim unity, Dhirendranath Datta was horrified to see the rise of communalism and the Hindu-Muslim riots in 1946. On the eve of the division of India, he had several options. As the Deputy Leader of the Congress parliamentary party in the Bengal Legislative Assembly, he could choose to opt for India where his political career would have been protected. He could realize that his future was at best problematic in a Muslim majority country if he opted for Pakistan. Yet Dhirendranath Datta made a conscious determination to opt for the new nation of Pakistan. On a matter of principle, he was unwilling to abandon his constituents. He became a member of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (CAP) in December 1946 and continued to be a member of the CAP till this body was arbitrarily dissolved in October 1954. He attended the first session of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (CAP) on August 12, 1947. He also attended the historic session of the CAP on August 14, 1947 in which Lord Mount batten, the last Viceroy of India, had transferred power to M.A. Jinnah, the newly appointed Governor General of the new nation of Pakistan. It was Dhirendranath Datta who had moved an amendment at the CAP on February 25, 1948 for adopting “Bengali” as one of the official languages of the CAP. It is clearly evident from his speech that he also demanded Bengali to be one of the “State” languages of Pakistan. Among many others who were in the vanguard of the formative phase of the Bengali Language Movement, his role was seminal in the process of jumpstarting our resistance against those anti-Bangalee forces that were engaged in repudiating the rudiments of Bengali language and culture through the imposition of Urdu.CONCLUDING REMARKSIn order to fully comprehend the factors that motivated Dhirendranath Datta to opt for Pakistan where he was to be treated as an alien in his own homeland, one has to appraise the nature of his political struggle before the partition of India. It is evident from Dhirendranath Datta’s memoirs that his political philosophy and his commitment to freedom struggle during the British period were enormously conditioned by his early political socialization process and the insights that he had gained during his student days from 1904 through 1910. He was also greatly influenced by Surendranath Banerjee, his teacher at Ripon College, and Barrister Abdur Rasul (1872-1917), a follower and supporter of Surendranath Banerjee and a practicing Barrister who happened to hail from Tripura district. Both of these remarkable men were in the vanguard of the anti-partition movement during the period from1905 to 1911. It seems that his political philosophy and social orientation, and his life-long commitment to social justice and fairness might have been greatly moulded by these two distinguished gentlemen of extraordinary merit and dedication. Dhirendranath Datta was an outstanding lawyer-politician with an impeccable record of professional integrity. It is evident from whatever scanty literature is available on the formative phase of his life that his motto of social service was greatly shaped by his concern for the country and for his compassion for the common masses. However, the most distinctive quality of this extraordinary man of integrity and honesty was that numerous opportunities could not add luster to his reputation even when he became a provincial minister in the then East Pakistan in 1950s. He never shunned the code of ethics of his legal profession. Nor did he ever deviate from his cherished life-long motto of social service. He was regarded as a person of amiable disposition, and it is fair to suggest that he was a gentleman par excellence. His was a graceful and courteous presence both inside and outside of the courtrooms or legislative chambers, and humility was the hallmark of his character. However, on a matter of principle, he was not willing to demonstrate any kind of timidity or ambiguity in front of the most powerful.There is no doubt that Dhirendranath Datta went through a social and political transformation during the Non-violent and Non-cooperation movement in early 1920s. His participation in this historic movement also gave him a golden opportunity to practice politics among the common masses of various remote villages of the then Tripura district. Notwithstanding his personal risks and sacrifices, his activities during the non-cooperation movement can be characterized as the on-the-job training for a budding nationalist leader. His political life was also seriously impacted byHis involvement in the historic Civil Disobedience Movement that was launched by the Congress in early 1930s, and during different phases of this movement, he had suffered three separate prison terms totaling a period of sixteen months. As a participant in the Satyagraha and the ‘Quit India’ movements that took place in early 1940s, he was put behind bar twice for a total period of eighteen months. The way he had courted arrests and jail terms during those tumultuous years of Bengal politics is an exemplary testimonial of a true freedom fighter and a patriot. Since his direct participation in various anti-British movements involved a great deal of personal risks and sacrifices, his deep sense of patriotism and selflessness, and his commitment to his constituents can be identified as the chief incentives behind his bold decision of staying back in Pakistan for which he had to endure humiliation and various forms of hardships. Even after the black night of 25th March in 1971, he had refused to move out of his modest Comilla residence for a taking a safe haven in neighboring Tripura state of India. Due to his refusal to leave his beloved motherland, he had to sacrifice his life at the age of 85 in the hands of the brutish Pakistani genocidal army. Dhirendranath Datta, a forgotten martyr of our liberation war, has remained unwept. It is indeed Bangladesh’s national shame that a hero of the Bengali language movement of Dhirendranath Datta’s stature has essentially remained unsung even though marginal roles of many self-declared language activists have often been embellished, magnified, and glorified in recent years. However, his sacrifices did not go in vain. Shaheed Dhirendranath Datta’s profile in courage that was demonstrated both before and after the partition of India and his role as a dauntless defender of the Bengali language and culture will be remembered beyond the boundaries of time.