Batukeshwar Dutta was an Indian revolutionary and independence fighter. He was also a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.
He is known for having exploded two bombs, along with Bhagat Singh, in the Central Legislative Assembly in New Delhi on 8 April 1929.
After they were arrested, tried, and imprisoned for life, he and Bhagat Singh initiated a historic hunger strike in the prison. This protest was against the abusive treatment of Indian political prisoners. They eventually secured some rights for them.
Batukeshwar Dutt — also known as B. K. Dutt, Battu, and Mohan — was the son of Goshtha Bihari Dutt. He was born on 18 November 1910 in Oari village, Purba Bardhaman district (now West Bengal).
Batukeshwar graduated from P. P. N. High School in Cawnpore. He was a close associate of freedom fighters such as Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh.
He learned about bomb-making while working for the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) there.
1929 Assembly Bomb-Throwing Incident
The British government decided to implement the Defence of India Act 1915 to overcome the rise of revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh which gave the police a free hand.
Influenced by a French anarchist who bombed the French Chamber of Deputies, Singh proposed to the HSRA his plan to explode a bomb inside the Central Legislative Assembly, to which it agreed.
Initially, it was decided that Dutt and Sukhdev would plant the bomb while Singh would travel to the USSR. However, later the plan was changed and Dutt was entrusted with planting it alongside Singh.
On 8 April 1929, Singh and Dutt threw two bombs inside the assembly rushing from Visitor’s Gallery. The smoke from the bomb filled the Hall and they shouted slogans of “Inquilab Zindabad!” (Hindi-Urdu: “Long Live the Revolution!”) and showered leaflets.
The leaflet claimed that the act was done to oppose the Trade Disputes and the Public Safety Bill being presented in the Central Assembly and the death of Lala Lajpat Rai.
Few sustained injuries in the explosion but there were no deaths. Singh and Dutt claimed that the act was intentional. Singh and Dutt were arrested, as planned.
The Tribune reported the incident as:
When Mr Patel from India got up to give his ruling on the Public Safety Bill, two bombs were thrown from a gallery near the seat of George Schuster. The whole House was dispersed in the panic caused. George Schuster and B. Dalal were injured while few other members received minor injuries. Bhagat Singh and Dutta were arrested by the British.
Ten minutes later the Assembly got reassembled. The Chamber was filled with smoke. Mr Patel adjourned the House till next Thursday. A red pamphlet “Hindustan Socialist Republican Army” signed by Bal Raj, Hony. Chief, was thrown into the blazing fire.
The police locked the Council House and prevented the movement of the visitors. J. Simon was also in the President’s Gallery when the bomb fell. Sir G. Schuster, Sir B. Dalal, Mr Raghavendra Rao and Mr Shanker Rao were among the injured.
Butukeswara Datta from Bengal and Bhagat Singh from Punjab were arrested.
Along with Singh and Sukhdev, Dutt was tried in the Central Assembly Bomb Case and was sentenced in 1929 to life imprisonment by the Sessions Judge of Delhi under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code & Section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act. He was deported to the Cellular Jail, Andaman, and Nicobar Islands.
Life after release from jail
After his release from prison, Dutt contracted tuberculosis. He nevertheless participated in the Quit India Movement of Mahatma Gandhi and was again jailed for four years.
He was lodged in Motihari Jail (in Champaran district of Bihar). After India gained independence, he married Anjali in November 1947. Independent India did not accord him any recognition, and he spent his remaining life in poverty away from the political limelight.
The later life of the freedom fighter was painful and tragic. Being released from jail due to tuberculosis, he was not valued in independent India.
He was forced into starting a transport business for livelihood.
Death of Batukeshwar Dutt
Dutt outlived all his comrades (except Jaydev Kapoor) and died on 20 July 1965 in the AIIMS hospital in Delhi after a long illness.
He was cremated in Hussainiwala near Ferozepur in Punjab where the bodies of his comrades Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev were also cremated many years before. He was survived by his only daughter, Bharti Dutt Bagchi, in Patna where his house was situated in the Jakkanpur area.