Book Review by RAJDIP DAS (2021)
TITLE: India Cried That Night: Untold Tales of Freedom’s Foot Soldiers
AUTHOR: Supratim Sarkar
GENRE: Non-Fiction, History, Biography
PUBLISHER: Rupa Publications India
RELEASE DATE: First published in 2018
Kanailal Bhattacharya, 19, comes into a packed courtroom and shoots a dictatorial British magistrate at point-blank range. Bina Das, a university student, attacks the Governor of Bengal alone, carrying a handgun in one pocket and potassium cyanide in the other. Habu Mitra pulls off an ammo robbery right in front of the British.
None of these names are well-known outside of a few obscure works, but they should be since their sacrifice was no less than that of their renowned contemporaries. These are some of the foot soldiers of India's independence struggle, who took on the power of the British Empire in the aftermath of Bengal's division in 1905. India Cried That Night honours these unsung individuals whose achievements have gone unnoticed. This is not only a recital of events or a dry record of recorded history.
Rather, it is a dramatization that is entirely true to historical events. The characters' experiences are rebuilt using historical papers and case files from the Calcutta (Kolkata) Police, which was at the heart of the British government in India as it attempted to combat the insurgents. The author, an assistant commissioner of the Kolkata Police, has effortlessly combined this information with the revolutionaries' point of view, resulting in a sequence of emotionally charged and complex vignettes that explain both sides of the story.
As the book demonstrates, not all of the rebels' actions and attacks were successful. Nonetheless, what comes out in the accounts is a strong passion and commitment to the purpose of liberating the country from a totalitarian administration.
'India Cried That Night,' by Supratim Sarkar, is one of my favourite books about the Indian independence fight. It's a compilation of short stories that showed me the enormous sacrifices made by freedom warriors. The 10 stories each convey a separate storey, and I was surprised by how all the data were combined to create a lovely narration. Yajnaseni Chakraborty first wrote 'India Cried That Night' in Bengali and afterwards translated it into English. The book is about the brutal history of the independence struggle, some of which we are familiar with and many of which we are not. This is a book I'd like to re-read since it takes you on a journey through the people of this country's heroic fight for freedom and identity.
P.S. The inside of the cover of this book has a historic map of Calcutta (when India was under British rule), and I enjoyed the details in it. It's something I'd like to treasure forever!