Chapter-13 : First Phase of Revolutionary Activities (1907-1917)

Modern History Notes

Arora IAS Class Notes

Surge of Revolutionary Activity:

  • Fallout of the Swadeshi and Boycott Movement.
  • Frustration with failed leadership (both Moderate and Extremist) to find new forms of struggle.
  • Government repression closing peaceful avenues of protest.
  • Belief in forceful expulsion of British as the only path to independence.

Revolutionary Program:

  • Not aiming for mass revolution or subversion of the army (initially).
  • Inspired by Russian nihilists and Irish nationalists.
  • Methods:
    • Assassinations of officials, traitors, and informers.
    • “Swadeshi dacoities” (armed robberies) to fund activities.
    • Military conspiracies during World War I (seeking enemy help).
  • Goals:
    • Terrorize rulers.
    • Arouse the people and remove fear of authority.
    • Inspire mass action through individual acts of heroism.
  • Missed Opportunity:
    • Extremist leaders failed to offer a clear ideological alternative, allowing individualistic violence to take root.


A Survey of Revolutionary Activities (Pre-WWI & WWI)


  • Early 20th Century: Rise of revolutionary groups (Anushilan Samiti, Jugantar Party).
  • 1906-1907:
    • Newspapers advocated violence (Yugantar).
    • Secret societies formed (Rashbehari Bose, Sachin Sanyal).
    • Abortive attempt to assassinate Sir Fuller (Lt. Governor).
  • 1907-1908:
    • Bomb thrown at carriage targeting British judge (Prafulla Chaki, Khudiram Bose).
    • Alipore Conspiracy Case (Aurobindo Ghosh acquitted, Barindra Ghosh sentenced).
  • 1909-1910:
    • Public prosecutor and police officer assassinated in Calcutta.
    • Barrah dacoity (fundraising for revolutionaries).
  • 1912: Bomb attack on Viceroy Hardinge in Delhi (Rashbehari Bose, Sachin Sanyal).
  • WWI:
    • Jugantar Party planned “German Plot” (arms import, uprising).
    • Jatindranath Mukherjee (“Bagha Jatin”) led the effort.
    • “Taxicab” and “boat dacoities” for funding.
    • Plot leaked, revolutionaries confronted police in Balasore (Jatin Mukherjee killed).


  • Substantial legacy of Swadeshi Bengal.
  • Inspired educated youth for a generation.
  • Overemphasis on Hinduism alienated Muslims.
  • Limited by lack of mass involvement and narrow social base.
  • Ultimately unsuccessful against state repression.



  • Early Activity (1879):
    • Vasudev Balwant Phadke formed Ramosi Peasant Force.
    • Aimed for armed revolt and disruption of communication lines.
    • Suppressed prematurely.
  • 1890s:
    • Bal Gangadhar Tilak promoted militant nationalism through festivals and journals.
    • Chapekar brothers assassinated British officials (1897).
  • Late 19th-Early 20th Century:
    • Savarkar brothers and others formed secret societies (Mitra Mela, Abhinav Bharat).
    • Anant Kanhere assassinated British official (1909).
    • Savarkar sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiracy.


  • Fuel for Extremism:
    • Famines, rising taxes, exploitation by landlords.
    • Influence of events in Bengal.
  • Early Leaders:
    • Lala Lajpat Rai (Newspaper: Punjabee)
    • Ajit Singh (Anjuman-i-Mohisban-i-Watan, Bharat Mata journal)
    • Others: Aga Haidar, Syed Haider Raza, Bhai Parmanand, Lalchand Falak
  • Government Crackdown (1907):
    • Ban on meetings, deportation of leaders (Lajpat Rai, Ajit Singh).
  • WWI and Beyond:
    • Ajit Singh and others became revolutionaries.
    • Rashbehari Bose involved in Ghadr Revolution.
    • Collaboration with Bengal on all-India uprising plans.
    • Bose escaped to Japan after failed revolution (1915).


Revolutionary Activities Abroad


  • Escape British censorship (Press Acts).
  • Publish revolutionary literature (“India House”).
  • Secure arms for rebellion.


  • London (1905): “India House” by Shyamji Krishnavarma.
    • Members: Savarkar, Hardayal (later deemed too dangerous).
    • Assassination of British official (Madanlal Dhingra, 1909).
  • Paris and Geneva: Madam Bhikaji Cama (“Bande Mataram” journal), Ajit Singh.
  • Berlin (post-1909): Virendranath Chattopadhyaya.

The Ghadr Party (1913):

  • Base: San Francisco (branches along US/Canadian west coast).
  • Members: Mainly Punjabi ex-soldiers and peasants seeking work abroad.
  • Leaders: Lala Hardayal, Ramchandra, Bhagwan Singh, Kartar Singh Saraba, Barkatullah, Bhai Parmanand.
  • Goals:
    • Assassinations of officials.
    • Anti-imperialist publications.
    • Incite rebellion among Indian troops abroad.
    • Procure arms.
    • Simultaneous revolt in all British colonies.

The Komagata Maru Incident (1914):

  • Ship carrying Punjabi immigrants denied entry to Canada.
  • Returned to India, sparking outrage.

Ghadr Activity in WWI:

  • Encouraged by Komagata Maru and war.
  • Recruited fighters in India (Rashbehari Bose, Sachin Sanyal).
  • Political dacoities for funding (targeted moneylenders in some cases).
  • Planned armed revolt (February 1915) foiled by leaks.

British Crackdown:

  • Defence of India Act (1915): detentions, harsh sentences, court-martials.
  • Leaders arrested, deported, or hanged.
  • Rashbehari Bose fled to Japan.

Evaluation of Ghadr:

  • Spread secular militant nationalism.
  • Failed to achieve lasting success due to:
    • Lack of organized leadership.
    • Insufficient preparation (organization, ideology, finances, tactics).
    • Hardayal’s limitations as an organizer.


Revolutionaries in Europe (WWI)

  • Berlin Committee (1915):
    • Founded by Virendranath Chattopadhyay, Bhupendranath Dutta, Lala Hardayal (with German support).
    • Aimed to mobilize Indian citizens abroad for rebellion.
    • Sent missions to western Asia to incite anti-British sentiment.
    • Established a “provisional Indian government” in Kabul.

Mutiny in Singapore (1915)

  • Punjabi Muslim soldiers (5th Light Infantry, 36th Sikh battalion) rebelled.
  • Led by Jamadar Chisti Khan, Jamadar Abdul Gani, Subedar Daud Khan.
  • Crushed by British forces (many killed).
  • 37 executed, 41 imprisoned for life.








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