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Chittagong Armoury Raid (1930)

Last Updated : 06 Jun, 2022
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Armed freedom fighters like Surya Sen, inspired by the Easter Rising of 1916 in Ireland, called for a revolution in India on April 18, 1930, to liberate the country from British colonial authority.  They tried to seize the Chittagong armory of police and auxiliary forces in the Bengal Presidency. They were associates of the revolutionary Indian Republican Army, which called for armed revolutions to free India from the domination of the British. This article will discuss the Chittagong Armoury Raid, April 1930 in detail.

Chittagong Rebellion:

Master Da i.e. Surya Sen, after being chosen President of the Indian Republican Army’s Chittagong branch, convened a five-hour council meeting during which the following program was made:

  • Taking control of the arsenal.
  • Arrange arms and ammunition.
  • Dismantling of the railway lines.
  • Switch off the inverted telephone.
  • Telegraph wire cut.
  • Capture the stored firearm.
  • The mass killing of Europeans.
  • Formation of a Provisional Government.
  • Seize the city and make battlefronts.

Reasons for Rebellion:

  1. Political Reasons
    – Disregarding the demands of Congress by the colonial regime.
    – Repressive policy of the Colonial government toward Indians.
  2. Economic Reasons
    – The outburst of famine and epidemic.
    – Partial tax system of the British Government.
    – Authoritarian administration of Lord Curzon.
  3. Social Reasons
    – Enlightenment among Indians.
    – Inappropriate treatment of Indians living in the West.
    – Impact of western revolutionary thoughts and beliefs.

Events of the Raid:  


  • Communists in Soviet Russia had a greater ideological effect on Indian Revolutionaries. The people who actively took part in the uprising included Ganesh Ghosh, Loknath Bal, Ambika Chakraborty, Harigopal Bal (Tegra), Anant Singh, Anand Prasad Gupta, Tripura Sen, Bilash Dey, Bidhubhushan Bhattacharya, Pritilata Waddar, Kalpana Dutta, Himangshu Sen, Binod Bihari Chowdhury, Subodh Roy, and Monoranjan Bhattacharya.

The Plan of Action:

  • Sen devised a plan to capture the two main arsenals in Chittagong, destroy the telegraph and telephone office, and take as hostage members of the European Club at Pahartali, most of whom were also to be raided. The rail and communication lines were to be cut to separate Chittagong from Calcutta. The royal banks in Chittagong were to be raided to accumulate funds for further rebellion, and various prison revolutionaries would be freed.

The Armory Raid:

  • The plan was implemented on the night of 18 April 1930. A team of revolutionaries commanded by Ganesh Ghosh stormed the police armory in the Dampara police line, while another group of 10 men led by Loknath forcefully moved the auxiliary soldiers to the armory.
  • The raid was carried out in the name of the Indian Republican Army, Chittagong branch, and involved about 65 people. They failed to locate the ammunition but were able to cut telephone and telegraph wires and obstruct the railway lines.
  • About 16 members of the group occupied the headquarters of the European Club in Pahartali, but due to Good Friday, only a few members of the club were present. Upon learning of the situation, Britishers were able to alarm the troops, which the revolutionaries did not expect.
  • The revolutionaries assembled outside the police armory after the raid, where Sen saluted the troops, raised the national flag, and declared a Provisional Revolutionary Government.  The revolutionaries marched from Chittagong city to the Chittagong hill range in quest of a place of refuge before sunrise.


  • The police chased a few of the rebels after some days. More than 80 troops and 12 rebels were killed in the Battle of Jalalabad Hills near the Chittagong cantonment on the afternoon of April 22, 1930. Sen sent small parties of soldiers to surrounding towns, enabling some to leave. Some members, such as Anant Singh, escaped to Calcutta, while others were apprehended and killed.
  • Some revolutionaries who had survived regrouped. Debi Prasad Gupta, Manoranjan Sen, Rajat Sen, Swadesh Roy, Phanindra Nandi, and Subodh Choudhary attacked the European Club in Pahartali on September 24, 1932, killing a woman and wounding numerous police officers. 
  • This plan was not completely effective. The revolutionaries fled after the attack, but Pritilata consumed cyanide and killed herself as she was wounded to avoid arrest. The rest of the absconding people were searched by the police. In the Kalarpol encounter, Deba Gupta, Manoranjan Sen, Rajat Sen, and Swadesh Ranjan Ray were killed, while Subodh and Phani were injured and detained.
  • The revolutionaries killed 22 officers and 220 people in various instances between 1930 and 1932.

Participation of Women:

  • Pritilata Waddedar and Kalpana Datta, two Bengali women who participated in the perilous Chittagong armory attack displayed valor and fearlessness.
  • Pritilata became one of the key masterminds, devising complicated plans and impressing her compatriots with her intelligence and unwavering will to defeat the British. She was assigned to lead a group of 40 men to the European club to burn it to avenge the slaughter in the hills.
  • Kalpana was responsible for delivering explosives and other supplies. She excelled at the preparation of gun cotton and was able to contribute to the cause by using her knowledge.

Arsenal Raid Trial:

  • There was a trial of those arrested in January 1932 and the verdict was given on 1 March 1932. Twelve of the defendants were sentenced to exile for life, two received three years in prison, and the remaining 32 persons were acquitted. The twelve people taken to Andaman comprised Ganesh Ghosh, Loknath Bal, sixteen-year-old Anand Gupta, and Anant Singh.

Death of Surya Sen:

  • The Chittagong revolutionary group suffered a fatal blow when Master Surya Sen was arrested from Gairala village on 16 February 1933 following a tip-off from an insider of the group.
  • Surya Sen was executed along with Tarakeswar Dastidar on 12 January 1934 by the British administration after inhuman torture in jail.
  • Sen was hanged in Bangladesh’s Chittagong Central Jail. The Bangladesh government has established it as a historical monument.

Importance and Key Features of the Raid:

  • This event greatly impacted the people of Bengal. According to a government publication, this incident encouraged the youth to revolutionary thinking and they started joining revolutionary groups in large numbers. Revolutionary activities gained momentum in 1930 and continued till 1932. In the Midnapore area alone, three English magistrates were assassinated; attempts were made to kill two Governors and two Inspector Generals of Police. 22 British officers and 20 non-officers were killed in these three years.
  • One of the main features of the new revolutionary movement of Bengal was the large-scale participation of young women, under the leadership of Surya Sen, many militant women worked in things like conveying messages, protecting weapons to the revolutionaries, and so on.
  • The Chittagong rebellion was far more influential than the old nationalist revolutionaries. These revolutionaries gave more importance to the organized attack on the vital organs of colonial power collectively than to showing individual bravery or taking the route of assassination.  They aimed to set an example for the youth and demoralize the government bureaucracy.
  • Before the partition, Bengal was highly populated by two major religions. The Chittagong armory raid and New Bengal Movement as a whole had huge participation from Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and other religions. This movement set an example of communal harmony, especially when the colonial government was trying to sabotage the secular fabric of India.

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