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Hemanta Kumar Sarkar

(1897 – 1952) – (West Bengal)

Hemanta Kumar Sarkar (Aged 55) was born on 1897 in Baganchra, a village near Shantipur in the Nadia district of West Bengal, India. He was the fifth son among the six sons of Madan Mohan Sarkar and Kadambari Devi. During his childhood, he attended Krishnagar Collegiate School. In 1912, Sarkar was introduced to Subhas Chandra Bose by Beni Madhab Das, who had come to the school as the new headmaster from Ravenshaw Collegiate School in Cuttack. This meeting resulted in a lifelong friendship between Sarkar and Bose.

Sarkar and Bose ran away from home in search of a spiritual guru and travelled to Ayodhya, Haridwar, Mathura, Vrindavan, and Varanasi. In Vrindavan, Baba Ramakrishnadas advised them to stop searching for a guru because they were argumentative and spiritual life was not suitable for them. They returned home after three months.

In 1919, Ashutosh Mukherjee, then President of the Graduate Council of the University of Calcutta, appointed Sarkar as a lecturer in Comparative Philology. That same year, he was also awarded a Government of India Scholarship to study in England for three years.

Subhas Chandra Bose, who had already arrived in England a few months earlier, arranged for Sarkar’s admission and lodging at his own college, Fitzwilliam Hall at the University of Cambridge, so they could be together again. However, at the call of Chittranjan Das, Sarkar declined the scholarship to study in England and gave up his lectureship at the University of Calcutta to join the freedom movement. It was a decision he later regretted.

In 1920, Sarkar began his political career as the private secretary of Das, during which time he stayed at the Das family residence. He attended the 1920 Congress session at Nagpur, the 1921 Congress session at Ahmedabad, and the 1922 Congress session at Gaya as a delegate. In 1921, he played a vital role in organizing strikes at the Raniganj Paper Mills and the Bengal Nagpur Railway. He also organized the Press Employees Association strike, one of the largest and longest strikes in British India, where around 10,000 employees went on strike for two and a half months. He passed away on November 3, 1952, in Krishnanagar, West Bengal, India.