Prafulla Chaki was a revolutionary freedom fighter. He was a part of the Jugantar group and its revolutionary activities. The assassination of the influential British officials was the main agenda behind organising the Jugantar group. He is well known for organising the killing of Magistrate Kingsford along with his companion Khudiram Bose, by throwing bombs in his carriage. However, the plan accidentally failed when the carriage in which they threw the bombs was not carrying Mr Kingsford. In this attack, two English women died who were travelling in Kingsford’s carriage. Prafulla Chaki committed suicide when a British police officer tried to arrest him on 1 May 1908. Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose were charged with the killing of the two British women. Soon after the suicide of Prafulla Chaki and the arrest of Khudiram Bose, in one of the freedom fighting campaigns, Mahatma Gandhi announced that the violent methods would never provide independence to India, and he regretted the suicide of Prafulla Chaki. However, the great Indian revolutionary freedom fighter, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, praised the killing attempts made by Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose in his Marathi newspaper Kesari and raised his voice against the British rule in India while demanding the independence of India. Soon after his statement, Bal Gangadhar Tilak was arrested by the British authorities under the sedition charges and the news that he published in his newspaper against the British. In his newspaper, Bal Gangadhar Tilak wrote,
The rulers who always exercise unrestrained power must remember that there is always a limit to the patience of humanity”. And so, “violence, however deplorable, became inevitable.”
Prafulla Chaki was born on Monday, 10 December 1888 (age 19 years; at the time of death) in Bogra district, Bengal Presidency, British India (now in Bangladesh). His zodiac sign was Sagittarius. He received primary school education from Namuja Janada Prasad English School. He then studied till 9th standard at Rangpur Zilla School. Later, he went to Rangpur National School for further studies.
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Rajnarayan Chaki, and he was a Nagar estate employee. His mother’s name is Swarnomoyee Devi. The name of his elder brother is Pratap Chandra Chaki.
He was the youngest among the five siblings. The name of his grandniece is Madhabi Taludar.
Wife & Children
He was not married.
He belonged to the Kayastha community.
Prafulla Chaki was born in a well to do family in Bihar. His ancestors belonged to a village in the Bogra district of Bangladesh. Initially, Bosu was the real surname of the Prafulla Chaki family. He earned his secondary school education at his sister-in-law’s place at Rangpur. He began participating in the Indian independence movements when he was studying in class ninth following which he was expelled from the Rangpur Zilla School when he got involved in the students’ protests against the East Bengal Law. Soon after leaving the Rangpur Zilla school, he started studying at the Rangpur National School. At Rangpur National School, he encountered well known Indian freedom fighters such as Jitendranarayan Roy, Abinash Chakravarti, Ishan Chandra Chakravarti, and got inclined towards patriotism.
Once, at his village Rangpur, one of the founding members of the Jugantar organisation, Barindra Kumar Ghosh visited. Prafulla Chaki met him and showed interest in participating in the revolutionary activities organised by the Jugantar group to uproot the British rule in India. Soon, Barindra Kumar Ghosh took Prafulla Chaki to Kolkata and got his name registered in the Jugantar Group. The assassination of the first Lieutenant-Governor of the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam, Sir Joseph Bampfylde Fuller, was the first mission of the Prafulla Chaki soon after joining the Jugantar Group. The task was not completed by Prafulla due to some reasons.
Assassination Attempt of Douglas Kingsford
The second major responsibility provided to Prafulla was to assassinate the magistrate of Muzaffarpur, Bihar, Douglas Kingsford. It was believed that Kingsford was a very cruel Magistrate of Kolkata who often signed capital punishments to the political workers of Bengal, and was hated by the people of Bengal. Kingsford was very harsh towards the innocent Bengali people that led the revolutionaries to plot his murder. Prafulla Chaki, along with Khudiram Bose, were given the responsibility to execute the assassination. Dinesh Chandra Ray was the bogus name adopted by Prafulla Chaki during the plan. Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose kept a secret eye on Kingsford and his activities for many days before attempting his murder. They noticed that Kingsford often travels through his carriage at European Club, and they decided to kill him on its gate. On 30 April 1908, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose waited for his carriage to pass outside the gate of the European Club. Soon, they threw a bomb in the carriage when it passed through the gate. However, on the spot, they came to know that in the carriage, Kingsford was not travelling, and the bomb killed the two English women by mistake who were travelling in the carriage. The wife and daughter of Mr Pringle Kennedy were killed in the blast. Mr Pringle Kennedy was a leading pleader at Muzaffarpur Bar. Soon after the death of two English women by mistake, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose fled from the spot. Both of them chose separate ways to escape the police arrest. A railway employee named Triguna Charan Ghosh helped Prafulla Chaki in arranging tickets for him to Mokama.
A British police officer Nandlal Banerjee was travelling in the same compartment of the train in which Prafulla Chaki was travelling to Mokama. The police officer identified Prafulla and tried to arrest him. However, Prafulla Chaki shot himself with his own revolver. In 1971, a book titled ‘First spark of revolution: the early phase of India’s struggle for independence, 1900-1920’ was published by Arun Chandra Guha, and he mentioned in the book that Prafulla Chaki shot him under his chin. It stated,
A Bengali police officer, Nandalal Banerji was also travelling in the same compartment … Nandalal suspected Prafulla and tried to arrest him. But Prafulla was quite alert; he put his revolver under his own chin and pulled the trigger … This happened on the Mokama station platform on 2nd May, 1908.”
Soon after Prafulla Chaki committed suicide, Khudiram Bose was also arrested by the British authorities. Reportedly, Nandlal Banerjee severed the head of Prafulla Chaki from his body. Later, his body was identified by Khudiram Bose who was arrested and hanged to death. The two revolutionary freedom fighters Srishh Pal and Ranen Ganguly later killed the police officer Nandlal Banerjee to revenge the death of Prafulla Chaki. It was a tough decision for the British authorities to identify Prafulla Chaki’s body as he adopted the name Dinesh Ray during his missions at Jugantar Group. It was difficult for the British police to recognise Prafulla Chaki after his suicide. That was why they beheaded him and buried him at the garden of the Intelligence Bureau office at Lord Sinha Road. Reportedly, his skull was dug out by an IB officer for maintaining it in the criminal record at Lalbazar. After so many years, a notable historian and professor, Amalendu De, mentioned in his research that Prafulla Chaki’s head was not in the ground where it was buried. He also requested the DNA of the skull which was kept at Lalbazar. However, the police authorities always turned down his request.
- Prafulla Chaki was a prominent wrestler and stick-fighter during his school days. He was an accomplished athlete. In his free time after school, he used to ride horses and swim.
- The grand-niece of Prafulla Chaki, Madhabi Taludar, was found living in a house made up of plastic cover and tins during the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, in West Bengal.