As we observe the 7th death anniversary of Binod Bihari Chowdhury (Binod Dadu, as we used to call him), one of the legendary icons of the anti-British independence struggle, we remember him not only as an out-and-out revolutionary till his last day but also as the epitome of a true patriot.
Binod Bihari Chowdhury was born in North Bhurshi under Boalkhali upazila in Chattogram on January 10, 1911. Son of Kamini Kumar Chowdhury, who was a lawyer, and Rama Chowdhury, he joined Jugantor, an underground revolutionary organisation when he was only 16, and came in contact with great revolutionary leaders like Masterda Surjya Sen, Tarakeswar Dastidar and Madhusudan Dutt.
Binod Dadu became a close associate of Masterda Surya Sen and took part in a number of movements and raids in the anti-British youth revolution in 1930. Under the leadership of Ananta Singh and Ganesh Ghosh, he took part in the famous armoury raid in the Chattogram Police Line.
He was a valiant fighter in the Battle of Jalalabad against the British, when for four days the young fighters had kept Chattogram isolated and liberated from the rest of British India. On April 22, 1930, the British launched an all-out attack and many revolutionaries were killed and wounded. Binod Dadu was wounded as well. Binod Dadu was at the time on the wanted list of the British, and in order to escape their wrath he had gone underground; and after moving from one place to another, he finally took refuge in Dhaka.
When the police got information about his whereabouts, he returned to Chattogram but was arrested, and after a trial in 1932, was sent to a detention camp in Rajputana. Although he served a jail sentence from 1933 to 1938, he passed his graduation examinations with distinction. In 1939, he completed his Masters in English and had also obtained a degree in Law.
After beginning his career as a journalist, he also at the same time joined the Chattogram Bar. But neither of these professions attracted him, and he never felt at ease in them. He later joined the Indian National Congress, and during the Quit India movement was again sent to prison for various terms.
After the partition of India in 1947, many of Dadu's co-fighters opted to leave the country but, being the true patriot that he was, Dadu was totally committed to his birthplace and thus he strengthened his roots in Chattogram further. In erstwhile Pakistan, he was active in the Language Movement in 1952 along with various other political struggles; including the Mass Movement against the Pakistani regime in 1969.
Binod Dadu had always remained a man true to his ideals. He left his professions in journalism and law, and found more pleasure and contentment in teaching students at his home. He was eloquent and articulate in both English and Bangla. His task, as he put it, was "to create an enlightened youth."
My youngest brother, Kaushik, being a student of his, often mentioned how Dadu would tell them many stories about his association with Masterda ─ their meetings, their operations and so on. The students would listen to him in pin-drop silence at his house in Kadam Mubarak in Chattogram. Didimoni would come and tell him off for such distractions, but his students would rather listen to Dadu's stories than learn Bangla grammar.
Dadu used to narrate how Masterda was very reluctant to recruit him in his group. He was a bright young student and Masterda wanted Dadu to pursue his studies. Dadu used to go to Masterda every day and Masterda used to sit with him and try to explain to him that the activities that the revolutionary group was involved in was not something for Dadu to get associated with. One day, Dadu told Masterda that if he could not join his group, he would join some other group that he read about in newspapers. Masterda then asked Dadu to join his group.
Binod Dadu's ideal was human welfare. He was a patriot in all senses of the term, and that is why whenever there had been an issue involving common people he was seen taking his place in the front row.
Even when he was in his eighties, Dadu's voice had the power and boldness of youth. There was no mincing of words and he was true to his beliefs.
I had the rare honour and privilege to do an extensive interview of his for the Bangla section of BBC World Service Radio. I still remember introducing him as "a young man who has now entered his 80s."
He never believed in luxury and lived his life in a tin-roofed house in a narrow alley off Momin Road in Chattogram. Despite winning many awards, including the Swadhinata Padak in 2000, he never changed his way of life. He remained steadfast to his ideals and beliefs throughout.
A glaring example of his love for his birthplace should also be mentioned: When his health was failing and he was being taken to Kolkata for treatment, he told his relatives that his last rites should be held in his hometown, Chattogram. Binod Bihari Chowdhury breathed his last at a hospital in Kolkata on April 10, 2013. In accordance with his wish, his body was brought back to Chattogram and people from all walks of life in their tens of thousands came to pay their last respects to this great son-of-the-soil. I consider myself lucky to be present in Chattogram that day to say goodbye to Dadu. How befitting that this true patriot's last wish had been fulfilled with full national honours.
Binod Dadu has left us all, but his ideals, thoughts and way of life will always remain as true examples to be followed by generations to come.
Very few people conquer death and live on, inspiring us with their ideals. Binod Dadu was certainly one of those few who have done exactly that, and any tribute to such a legend and a true patriot is timeless.
Binod Dadu, our salutations to you. We shall never forget you.
The writer is a senior journalist, a political commentator and a sports analyst