Batukeshwar Dutt, an unsung hero of India’s freedom movement was the son of Gosta Bihari Dutt and was born in Oari village, Khanda, Burdwan, U.P. He was a great revolutionary and was contemporary of Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad. Batukeshwar Dutt was deeply snagged by the thought of being incarcerated by the British and thus, dedicated his life to free the nation from the atrocities of Colonial rule. He was highly motivated by the revolutionary ideology of having a social-republic nation, which attracted him and made him join the Hindustan Social Republican Association. There he came in touch with the great revolutionaries of India like Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad, Sukhdev, Rajguru, just to name a few. He also participated in the non-cooperation movement of India, which was started by Mahatma Gandhi but the calling off of the movement due to the Chauri Chaura incident also disturbed him like all other freedom fighters. He was a close associate of Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad and worked for the party from Kanpur as his base.
In 1928, after the assassination of Saunders, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, Bhagat Singh ran away from Lahore and went to Calcutta to flee from being caught by the police. Bhagat Singh together with his companion Batukeshwar Dutt, started a new branch of the association in Calcutta. During that period, the British government enacted the Defense of India Act to give more power to the police with the objective to fight revolutionaries. Although the Act was defeated in the council by one vote, it was then passed under the ordinance that asserted that it was in the best interest of the public. As a response to this act, the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association planned to explode a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly where the ordinance was going to be passed, the association entrusted Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt with the task of bombing in the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi and on April 8, 1929, to give result to the task entrusted upon them, they bombed the Legislative Assembly while in session. After they exploded the bomb, they surrendered themselves and were arrested. Bhagat Singh was given the death sentence but Batukeshwar was sentenced to transportation for life.
During the time of imprisonment, he started a hunger strike for improved treatment to political prisoners in jails and a few days later, Bhagat Singh was also shifted from Mianwali to Lahore Central Prison where Dutt was already there. Together they wrote a letter to the Home Member, Government of India, specifying their demands. Since then, the struggle for improved treatment of political prisoners in jails started. Later Dutt was sentenced on 12th June 1929 to life imprisonment by the court of session Judge of Delhi under section 307 Indian Penal Code and section 4 of Explosive Act. In the letter to the Home Member, Government of India, they wrote:
"WE, BHAGAT SINGH AND B.K. DUTT, WERE SENTENCED to life transportation in the Assembly Bomb Case, Delhi, on the 19th April, 1929. As long as we were under trial prisoners in Delhi Jail, we were accorded a very good treatment from that jail to the Mianwali and Lahore Central Jails respectively, we wrote an application to the higher authorities asking for better diet and a few other facilities, and refused to take the jail diet. Our demands were as follows:
1) We, as political prisoners, should be given better diet and the standard of our diet should at least be the same as that of European prisoners. (It is not the sameness of dietary that we demand, but the sameness of standard of diet.)
2) We shall not be forced to do any hard and undignified labors at all.
3) All books, other than those proscribed, along with writing materials, should be allowed to us without any restriction.
4) At least one standard daily paper should be supplied to every political prisoner.
5) Political prisoners should have a special ward of their own in every jail, provided with all necessities as those of the Europeans. And all the political prisoners in one jail must be kept together in that ward.
6) Toilet necessities should be supplied.
7) Better clothing.
We have explained above the demands that we made. They are the most reasonable demands. The Jail authorities told us one day that the higher authorities have refused to comply with our demands.
Apart from that, they handle us very rough while feeding us artificially, and Bhagat Singh was lying quite senseless on the 10th June, 1929, for about 15 mts., after the forcible feeding, which we request to be stopped without any further delay.
In addition, we may be permitted to refer to the recommendations made in the U.P. Jail Committee by Pt. Jagat Narain and K.B. Hafiz Hidayat Hussain. They have recommended the political prisoners to be treated as "Better Class Prisoners." We request you to kindly consider our demands at your earliest convenience.
- By "Political Prisoners", we mean all those people who are convicted of offenses against the State, for instance the people who were convicted in the Lahore Conspiracy Cases, 1915-17, the Kakori Conspiracy Cases and Sedition Cases in general.
After that he was transported to the Cellular Jail and even there he carried out in two hunger strikes. He was then sent back in 1937 as he contracted tuberculosis and was finally released from Bankipur jail in the year 1938. After his release due to illness, he also actively took part in the Quit India Movement with Mahatma Gandhi but he was again imprisoned for four more years. He was the sole survivor of the revolutionary group and witnessed India’s Independence. He got married in the year 1947.
After suffering from prolonged illness, he died at AIIMS, Delhi in the year 1965. His contribution towards the freedom struggle of India remained unrecognized and remained as a forgotten hero. It is the duty of every India to respect him and provide him the recognition that he deserves for his work, dedication and love for the nation.