People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 20

May 18, 2003

Comrade Sudhangshu Dasgupta:

 A Model Revolutionary


 Harkishan Singh Surjeet


DURING our struggle for independence, Bengal played a glorious role that inspired the freedom-loving people all over the country. After the October Revolution, when the ideas of socialism began to grip the minds of toiling people, particularly the workers, peasants and the sections of intelligentsia, late Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed, popularly known as Kaka Babu, emerged as one of the tallest personalities of that period. In Bengal, innumerable other people also underwent a lot of sufferings to win independence, and stood firm till the end. One such figure was Comrade Sudhangshu Dasgupta. 


Comrade Sudhangshu was born in Barishal town (now in Bangladesh) on January 30, 1912. He came from a well to do family; his father was a well-established kabiraj in Barishal. When he grew up and began attending the Banipith School in Barishal, he came in touch with Satish Pakrashi and Bimalendu Sengupta, famous revolutionaries who were then teaching there. 


In August-September 1927, when Comrade Dasgupta was studying in B M College at Barishal, late Comrade Niranjan Sen came to Barishal on 15 days parole to see his ailing mother. Comrade Pannalal Dasgupta, who was also studying with Sudhangshu, took him to meet Niranjan Sen. According to Comrade Sudhangshu, this meeting created a new urge in his mind to do something for the country. It was thus that he began to study Marxism-Leninism in a quest to find the path of revolution. After passing his ISc exams in 1929, he came to Kolkata where much more facilities for education were available and joined the Medical College.


After their release from jail, Niranjan Sen and Satish Pakrashi set up a shelter for revolutionaries in Kalabagan Bastee in Machhuabazar. In the early hours on December 19, 1929, the police raided the shelter house and arrested Comrades Sen, Pakrashi and Ramen Biswas. On the same morning, Comrade Sudhangshu too was arrested as soon as he reached there with bombs. In February 1930, the Machhuabazar bomb case started against 23 accused, including Niranjan Sen, Satish Pakrashi and Sudhangshu Dasgupta. 


In 1930, when Comrade Abdul Halim was sick and in Alipur Central Jail’s hospital, Comrade Sudhangshu used to visit him regularly and discuss with him the communist ideology. This changed the direction of his political thinking and he came over to communism. 


During 1931-32, Comrade Sudhangshu was transferred to Jessore Jail and then to Dhaka Jail. While he was in Dhaka Jail, revolutionaries went on a hunger strike on the demand of political prisoners’ status. Comrade Sudhangshu too joined the hunger strike. Soon he was brought to Alipur Central Jail and then transported to Andaman Cellular Jail, known as “the living hell.” While in the Andamans, he went on a hunger strike for 46 days, along with other revolutionaries lodged there. In fact, to the incarcerated revolutionaries, these hunger strikes were the continuation of their struggle for independence in the changed circumstances. Comrade Dasgupta participated in all such struggles. 


Before the hunger strike, some time towards the end of April 1933, Narayan Roy, Niranjan Sen, Satish Pakrashi and others were also transported to the Andaman Cellular Jail. They brought with them a number of books on Marxism-Leninism. Comrade Sudhangshu used this period to further study Marxism-Leninism and equip himself ideologically. Soon he was again taken back to the Alipur Central Jail. 


After being shifted from one jail to the other, Comrade Sudhangshu was released in February 1935, and went back to Barishal. Resuming his studies now, he graduated in 1936 and then also passed MA from Kolkata University. His eagerness to contribute to advancing the communist movement remained. 


Comrade Dasgupta formally joined the Communist Party in 1936 and, from then onwards, continued to organise various sections of the working class.  Alongside, he developed interest in journalism and contributed articles in various newspapers.  In 1939, he was associated with Aage Chalo, edited by Comrade Abdul Halim.  In 1940, he was again arrested but released on bail. In the same year, he was interned in Barishal. This continued till 1942. 


When Swadhinata started publishing in 1945, he was given the responsibility as in-charge of sales. In 1947, he became the news editor of Swadhinata. But the paper was soon banned by the government. In 1948, he became the news editor of weekly Sangbad. The Swadhinata resumed publication from February 9, 1951. In 1952, the party asked him to take the responsibility of publishing its journal Crossroad. He worked there for one year and a half. After returning from Kolkata, he again joined the Swadhinata as news editor. 


During the serious ideological struggle inside the party, revisionists took over the Swadhinata and he, alongwith others, was removed from his position. During 1963, a weekly journal was started from Howrah in the name of Howrah Hitaishee. Comrade Sudhangshu used to write in that journal by the name of Subinoy Roy. It was ultimately renamed Desh Hitaishee. Comrade Dasgupta took the responsibility of this publication that made an important contribution to the ideological battle within the party and eventually became the ideological organ of the West Bengal state committee of CPI(M). 


After the formation of the CPI(M), Comrade Dasgupta was arrested in December 1964 and detained under the Defence of India Rules (DIR) in Dum Dum Central Jail till May 5, 1966. He became a member of West Bengal state committee in 1964 and continued in that position till his last. From 1972 to 1981, he served as the member of the CPI(M) state secretariat. 


Alongwith the publications, Comrade Sudhangshu Dasgupta shouldered the responsibility of party education for a long time. He proved to be a model for the communists, one who dedicated his whole life to the cause of revolution. He used to believe that human life is precious and, without wasting time, every minute of this life one must use to further the cause of the downtrodden.


Comrade Sudhangshu Dasgupta has left behind his wife Madhuri Dasgupta, a leader on the women's front, his daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.