The Uncompromising Revolutionary Samar Guha

Samar Guha, the revolutionary was born on the 27th January, 1918 on Saraswati Puja. Little wonder he was gifted simultaneously with academic and musical brilliance. He went to Pogose School, Dhaka, graduated from Jagannath College, and did his post graduation from Dacca University where he came out first among the first class pass candidates in Chemistry. Thereafter he started his scientific research on coal under the guidance of Dr Jnan Chandra Ghosh, the renowned scientist. This however could not progress far as he gravitated into the revolutionary activity that was at its peak in Bengal. His elder brother Bhupal Guha was already a revolutionary in the “Sreesangha” led by Leela Nag and Anil Roy. He started doing secret organisational work for Sree Sangha under the guidance of revolutionary martyr Anil Das and Anil Ghosh. In those days Leela Nag and Anil Roy were in prison and the young Bhupal Guha was running errands for “Jayasree”. His elder sister Labanya Prabha Bose was also a lifelong associate of Leela Roy.

After the historic Tripuri Congress split the revolutionary groups sided with the outgoing Congress President Subhas Chandra Bose and meetings used to be held in Dacca under the leadership of Anil Roy. Shortly afterwards Subhas Chandra Bose visited Manickgunje, Boyra, and other areas of East Bengal.. Samar Guha the student joined the Forward Bloc along with Anil Roy and Leela Roy. During the Quit India movement in 1942 Samar Guha joined the ranks of revolutionaries who were imprisoned en-masse. Samar Guha spent 1942 in Dacca jail and in 1943 he was interned in the Buxa special prison. He came in touch with Santosh Bhattacharya, Piyush Raut, Rasamoy Bose, Naresh Guha Khasnabis, Sudhir Nag, Bhabesh Nandi, et al. In jail the prisoners did regular physical exercise, observed silence one day a week and pursued study and music. He gradually picked up the art of leadership from Anil Roy who was specially adept in academics and music. By the time the leadership of “Sreesangha” were out of prison the criminal conspiracy for partitioning the country on religious lines was wholly in place and the situation had become ripe for partition. Leela Roy made an unsuccessful attempt to prevent partition from Dacca but she had to migrate to Calcutta crestfallen from her failure. On the one hand there were communal riots and the ethnic cleansing of Hindus from East Bengal and on the other there was the huge problem of rehabilitation of the refugees crossing over into West Bengal. Samar Guha stayed back in Dacca where he formed the East Pakistan People’s’ Committee and the East Bengal Minorities Committee of which he was the Secretary. He started spreading the message for raising the demand of an independent and united Bengal and printed and distributed thousands of booklets and pamphlets under a Muslim pseudonym. The Government of Pakistan got wind of things and had him arrested in 1949. The majority of the Hindu political leadership migrated into West Bengal but Samar Guha remained there. He published a weekly magazine the “Janamat”[public opinion]. Meanwhile the government of East Pakistan had plans to liquidate him. Samar Guha made good his escape from East Pakistan in the guise of a Muslim. Immediately on arrival at the Dum Dum airport on the 20th February 1951 he came to meet Sarat Bose, Netaji’s elder brother as directed by Leela Nag (then Roy) and narrated to him the horrendous accounts of ethnic cleansing of Hindus in East Pakistan. Sarat Bose was shocked to hear all this and on the same night he passed away after suffering a massive heart attack.

In 1951 Samar Guha started doing organisational work for the Forward Bloc under the leadership of Anil Roy and Leela Roy and became the Secretary of the West Bengal branch of the Subhasist Forward Bloc. The entire leadership of the Subhasist Forward Bloc including Samar Guha lost the first general elections with the exception of Dr Atindranath Bose. In 1953 the Subhasist Forward Bloc merged with the Krishak Mazdoor Praja Party and the Socialist Party to form the Praja Socialist Party. Guha became a member of the Central Committee of the party, a post which had earlier been held by Leela Roy. He was also elected Secretary of its State Branch. Thereafter he participated in the Bhoodan movement led by Jayaprakash Narayan and as part of “J.P’s” campaign to garner international support against the Chinese aggression and illegal occupation of Tibet he made an extensive tour of South East Asia in course of which he came in contact with several colleagues of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in South East Asia which he has mentioned in his book “Netaji’s Swapna O Sadhana”[Netaji’s Dream and Quest].

Emotional, adventurous and romantic, he wrote several books, essays and articles reflecting Netaji’s views and thoughts.

He was disappointed in his quest for political salvation in the “Bhoodan” movement after he had a brief tryst with spirituality in the form of a sojourn in the Himalayas which he narrated in his literary composition the “Uttarapath”.

Over and above his political activities, he joined as a professor first in the Jyotish Ray College in Bijoygarh followed by the Jadavpur University. Here he wrote his celebrated text book in Chemistry in Bengali, the first of its kind in a vernacular language under the inspiration of the scientist Satyendranath Bose. The book gained outstanding acceptance from the student community in Bengal and continues to be an authentic textbook even today.
Besides, his impassioned speeches in the Lok Sabha challenging the government’s version of Netaji’s reported death in the so called air crash at Taihoku in Taiwan on August 18, 1945 and his unrelenting struggle on this issue to unravel and establish the truth have become the stuff of legend.

He met Bhagwanji for the first time along with Leela Roy in 1963 March. Subsequently he visited him on several occasions at different places of stay.

In 1970 his life took another turn as he was catapulted into a position of central political leadership. When the campaign for establishing an independent Bangladesh was at its peak he was indirectly responsible for the government decide its stand in the issue. The then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi depended on Samar Guha’s opinion on almost every major issue relating to Bangladesh’s struggle for independence. At that time his extensive tours along India’s eastern borders with erstwhile East Pakistan along with his calm, composed and resolute speeches had a profound effect on moulding public opinion in favour of the Bangladesh Liberation War facilitating both the Mukti Bahini and the Indian Army in their overt and covert operations. He created a “National Coordination Committee for Bangladesh” with M.C.Chagla as President and himself as acting President headquartered at the Netaji Bhawan in Kolkata. Socialist leaders from all over the country especially Maharashtra gave full fledged support to his effort. Impressed by the capabilities of Samar Guha Mrs Indira Gandhi tried her best to pull Samar Guha into the fold of the Indian National Congress, her own political party. Needless to say, Samar Guha, who was well set in his own course in life, declined the offer.

With the declaration of Emergency he along with the rest of the opposition leaders all over India were arrested in the massive pre-dawn swoop on the 25th June, 1975. In 1977, after the Emergency was withdrawn, while speaking In the Lok Sabha regarding the tyranny unleashed by Mrs Gandhi and the Congress he said “I leave it to the wisdom of the members of the house on what to be done regarding Mrs. Indira Gandhi”. After being elected to the parliament on a Janata Party ticket in 1977 he functioned as its coordinator. It was at this juncture that he once again raised the demand for discarding the reports of both the Shah Nawaz Committee and the Khosla Commission inquiring into the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Satisfied with his reasoning and arguments Morarji Desai, the then Prime Minister rejected both the Inquiry Commission reports. It was primarily the pressure mounted through his efforts that led to the institution of the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry in 1998.

He wrote innumerable letters to prominent personalities all over India for the observance of Netaji’s birthday on the 23rd January in proper spirit and due solemnity.

It was thanks to his efforts that the oil painting of Netaji drawn by the artist Chintamani Kar that now adorns the Parliament hall was put up there in 1978. It was also primarily owing to his pressure that the former soldiers of the INA were granted the status of freedom fighters in 1978 which made them eligible for a government pension in Independent India. Also during Netaji’s birth Centenary in 1997,”Subhas Chandra’s contribution in the Planning Commission” and a big meeting was held presided over by Madhu Dandvate. Samar Guha himself however could not attend the meeting due to poor health.

He represented the Contai Parliamentary Constituency from 1967 to 1980 on behalf of the Praja Socialist Party and later the Janata Party. He played a powerful role as a leader of the Socialist group of politicians. He was close to the socialist leaders T.A. Pai, N.G. Gore, S.M. Joshi, Ganga Sharan Singh, Surendra Dwivedi, Hem Baruah, Hari Vishnu Kamath, Prem Bhasin, Madhu Dandvate, Piloo Modi, et al.

He also actively strove to secure grants for the Netaji Research Bureau, a contribution which has gone largely unacknowledged. It was also at his behest that the government of India issued commemorative stamps in 1968 and 1993 on the silver and the golden jubilee of the establishment of the Provisional Government of Independent India in Exile in 1942 by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

He fought tooth and nail resisting the mala fide attempts to bring the so called remains of Netaji kept at the Renkoji temple in Japan

His literary compositions include “Netaji’r Mat O Path” [ Netaji’s ideology and way], “Netaji’r Swapna O Sadhana” [Netaji’s Dreams and Quest], “Rabindranather Drishtite Subhas Chandra”[Subhas Chandra in Rabindranath Tagore’s eyes], “Akhanda Bharate Akhanda Bangla”[Undivided Bengal in Undivided India], “August Biplab”[The August Revolution (of 1942)] , “Swadhin Purba Pakistan”[Independent East Pakistan], “Padarther Swarup”[The true nature of matter], “Uttarapath”[ Sojourn in the North(Himalayas)], “Netaji Dead or Alive”, “The Mahatma and Netaji- The Two Men of the Destiny of India” and “The Country Must Know What Happened to Netaji”. He edited the “Jayasree” for four years since 1992 after the demise of Sunil Das, though he could not continue beyond 1999 due to failing health. He believed the “Jayasree” family to be the true standard bearers of Netaji’s thoughts, ideals and his legacy.

On the 23rd of January 1999 he addressed nine public meetings at Deshpriya Park, Shyam Bazar, Calcutta Maidan, Maharashtra Niwas Hall, etc and the strain proved too much for him to bear and he fell sick within a few days from which he never recovered. He suffered a series of haemorrhagic strokes rendering him paralyzed. He was hospitalized with respiratory distress on the 9th May 2002 at the AMRI Hospital where he breathed his last on June 17, after one and a half months, leaving behind his wife Basana Guha and daughter Srimati and granddaughter Medha who were present at his bedside.

His life is an enduring saga of uncompromising struggle for justice for which he suffered imprisonment in British India, Pakistan and India. It is a beacon light for today’s younger generation.