Remembering Chittaranjan Das: Lesser-known facts about 'deshbandhu' on his 96th death anniversary
Remembering Chittaranjan Das: Lesser-known facts about 'deshbandhu' on his 96th death anniversary

Chittaranjan Das, popularly known as Deshbandhu or CR Das, was an Indian freedom fighter, political activist and lawyer during the Indian independence movement.

Born on November 5, 1870, he completed his graduation from Kolkata's Presidency College in 1890. He was also the founder leader of the Swaraj party in Bengal during the period of British colonial rule in India.

His father, Bhuban Mohan Das, was a solicitor at the Calcutta High Court. In 1890, Das went to England to qualify for the ICS but had failed the exam. He then opted to join the legal profession and practiced law at The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple at London. During his stint in England, Das campaigned for Dadabhai Naoroji to win a seat in the House of Commons from Central Finsbury. Naoroji was the first Asian in 1892 to become a part of the Westminster.

He returned to India two years later and practised as a barrister at Calcutta HC. During his legal career, he rose to fame after he successfully defended Aurobindo Ghose in the Alipore bomb case - an explosion in Muzaffarpur that killed two women. Ghose was the main accused in the case. Das got Ghose acquitted. Das later joined politics for a short span of six years.

Das was a part of the Non-Cooperation Movement led by Mahatama Gandhi during which Das, his wife and son were jailed for six months for participating in the movement in 1921. He was elected to Ahmedabad Congress in the same year. Time and again Gandhi expressed his affection towards Das and lauded his efforts for the freedom movement. Das died on June 16, 1925.

On his 96th death anniversary, here are some interesting facts about C.R. Das:

1. Chittaranjan Das was born in Calcutta to a well-known Baidya Brahmin family.

2. He is generally referred to as the honorific Desh Bandhu meaning "Friend of the nation."

3. He was closely associated with a number of literary societies and wrote poems and numerous articles and essays.

4. C.R. Das married Basanti Devi and the couple had three children - Aparna Devi, Chiraranjan Das and Kalyani Devi.

5. He was a leading figure in Bengal during the Non-Cooperation Movement and initiated the ban on British-made clothes. He set an example by burning his own European clothes and to support the cause of Khadi.

6. He sacrificed all his luxury when he joined the freedom movement.

7. He brought out a newspaper called Forward and later changed its name to Liberty as part of his support for various anti-British movements in India.

8. When the Calcutta Municipal Corporation was formed, he became its first mayor.

9. Chittaranjan's health began to decline due to overwork. He died on June 16, 1925. His funeral procession in Calcutta was led by Gandhi who said, "Deshbandhu was one of the greatest men. He dreamed and talked of freedom of India and of nothing else. His heart knew no difference between Hindus and Muslims and I should like to tell Englishmen, too, that he bore no ill-will to them."

10. Chittaranjan's legacy was carried forward by his obedient disciple and follower Subhas Chandra Bose.

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