During World War I, the revolutionary nationalists were severely repressed, with the majority of their leaders imprisoned or absconding. As a result, in early 1920, the government issued a general amnesty to most of them in order to create a more harmonious environment for the Montague-Chelmsford reforms. Soon after, the National Congress launched the Non Cooperation Movement, and most revolutionary nationalists either joined the movement or suspended their own activities in order to give the Gandhian mass movement a chance, at the urging of Gandhiji, C.R. Das, and other leaders.
Rise of revolutionary nationalism:
• The sudden suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement, however, shattered the high hopes that had been raised previously. Many young people began to question the national leadership's fundamental strategy of nonviolence and began looking for alternatives.
• The Swarajists' parliamentary politics did not appeal to them, nor did the no-changers' patient and undramatic constructive work.
• Many people were attracted to the idea that India could be liberated solely through violent means. Revolutionary nationalism regained popularity.
• Nearly all of the major new leaders of revolutionary nationalist politics, such as Jogesh Chandra Chatterjea, Surya Sen, Jatin Das, Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Shiv Varma, Bhagwati Charan Vohra, and Jaidev Kapur, were active participants in the nonviolent Non-Cooperation Movement.
• Two distinct strands of revolutionary nationalism emerged over time, one in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, and the other in Bengal. Both strands were influenced by a number of new social forces.
• After the war, there was a surge in working-class trade unionism. They recognised the new class's revolutionary potential and desired to channel it into the nationalist revolution.
• The Russian Revolution and the young Socialist State's ability to consolidate itself was major influence. The young revolutionaries were eager to learn from and collaborate with the newly formed Soviet State and its ruling Bolshevik Party. Also the newly forming Communist groups, with their emphasis on Marxism, Socialism, and the proletariat, were influence.
HINDUSTAN SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ARMY
• Northern Indian revolutionaries were the first to rise above their dissatisfaction and reorganise under the leadership of old veterans such as Ramprasad Bismil, Jogesh Chatterjea, and Sachindranath Sanyal, who’s Bandi Jiwan served as a textbook for the revolutionary movement.
• They gathered in Kanpur in October 1924 to form the Hindustan Republican Association (or Army) with the goal of organising an armed revolution to overthrow colonial rule and establish a Federal Republic of the United States of India based on adult franchise.
• Propaganda had to be organised on a large scale, men had to be recruited and trained, and arms had to be procured before armed struggle could be waged. All of this required funds.
The Kakori Robbery was the HRA's most important "action." Ten men kidnapped the 8-Down train on August 9, 1925, in Kakori, a small village near Lucknow, and looted its official railway cash. The government's response was swift and forceful. In the Kakori Conspiracy Case, it arrested and tried a large number of young men.
• Ashfaqulla Khan, Ramprasad Bismil, Roshan Singh, and Rajendra Lahiri were hanged, while four others were sentenced to life in the Andamans and seventeen others to long prison terms. Only Chandrashekhar Azad was still on the loose.The Kakori case was a major setback for northern Indian revolutionaries, but it was not fatal.
• In U.P., younger men like Bejoy Kumar Sinha, Shiv Varma, and Jaidev Kapur, and in Punjab, Bhagat Singh, Bhagwati Charan Vohra, and Sukhdev set out to reorganise the HRA under Chandrashekhar Azad's overall leadership. At the same time, they were influenced by socialist ideas.
• Finally, on the 9th and 10th of September 1928, nearly all of northern India's major young revolutionaries gathered at Delhi's Ferozeshah Kotla Ground, formed a new collective leadership, declared socialism their official goal, and renamed the party the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (Army).
• Despite the fact that, as we will see, the HSRA and its leadership were rapidly moving away from individual heroic action and assassination in favour of mass politics.
• Lala Lajpat Rai's death on 30 October 1928 in Lahore as a result of a brutal lathi-charge while leading an anti-Simon Commission demonstration prompted them to return to individual assassination.
• The HSRA's romantic youthful leadership saw the death of this great Punjabi leader, popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab, as a direct challenge. As a result, on December 17, 1928, Bhagat Singh, Azad, and Rajguru assassinated Saunders, a police official involved in Lab Lajpat Rai's lathi charge, in Lahore.
• In a poster, put up by the HSRA after the assassination, the assassination was justified as follows: ‘the murder of a leader respected by millions of people at the unworthy hands of an ordinary police official . . . was an insult to the nation. It was the bounden duty of young men of India to efface it. . . We regret to have had to kill a person but he was part and parcel of that inhuman and unjust order which has to be destroyed.’
• The HSRA leadership has now decided to inform the public about its new goals and the need for a popular revolution.
Bomb in central legislative assemble: On 8 April 1929, Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt were asked to throw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly to protest the passage of the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Disputes Bill, which would restrict citizens' and workers' civil liberties.
• The goal was not to kill, because the bombs were relatively harmless, but to ‘make the deaf hear,' as the leaflet thrown into the Assembly hail declared.
• The goal was to be arrested and use the trial court as a platform for propaganda in order for people to learn about their movement and ideology.
• In the Assembly Bomb Case, Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt were tried. Later, in a series of well-known conspiracy cases, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, and dozens of other revolutionaries were tried. Every day they entered the courtroom, they displayed a fearless and defiant attitude. Shaheed Bhagat Singh was a famous Indian general.
• They chanting slogans like ‘Inquilab Zindabad,' ‘Down, Down with Imperialism,' ‘Long Live the Proletariat,' and singing songs like ‘Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mei hai' (our heart is filled with the desire for martyrdom) and ‘Mera rang de basanti chola' (dye my clothes in saffron colour (the colour of courage and sacrifice) Bhagat Singh's name became well-known throughout the country. When the news of his execution spread across the country, many people wept and refused to eat, go to school, or go about their daily lives.
• The country was also shaken by the long-term hunger strike that revolutionary detainees went on in protest of the appalling conditions in jails. They demanded that they be treated as political prisoners rather than criminals.
• The hunger strikers were supported by the entire country. Jatin Das, a frail young man with an iron will, died on September 13, the 64th day of the epic fast. Thousands of people came to pay their respects to him at each station where the train carrying his body from Lahore to Calcutta passed through. A two-mile procession of over six lakh people carried his coffin to the cremation ground in Calcutta.
• In the Lahore Conspiracy Case and other similar cases, a large number of revolutionaries were convicted and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, with many of them being sent to the Andaman Islands.
• Sukhdev, Rajguru, and Bhagat Singh were sentenced to death by hanging. On March 23, 1931, the sentence was carried out. Jatindra Nath Das is a character in the film Jatindra Nath Das (Jatin Das)