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A Lady, A Cricketer & Five Bullets

February 6, 1932, It was the convocation ceremony of Calcutta University. Bina Das opened fire at Stanley Jackson.

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Last updated: 06.02.2019
A Lady, A Cricketer & Five Bullets | Sports Social Blog

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February 6, 1932

It was the convocation ceremony of Calcutta University. Students gathered to receive their degrees. The Governor and the Chancellor, Stanley Jackson was the chief guest of the ceremony. Among the crowd, there was a girl in her 20’s who went to collect her BA (English) degree. Not a single one had any idea that the tiny girl was armed; she had a revolver concealed under the gown. When the Governor was delivering his speech, the girl got up from her seat. Fishing out the revolver she opened fire at him. Jackson ducked. The Governor dodged the first two shots. By the time the Vice- Chancellor, Hassan Suhrawardy shielded the Governor and eventually tried to stop the young lady. She fired three more shots but all in vain. In the process a senior professor, Dr Dineshchandra Sen was injured. Although one of her bullets whipped past his ear, Stanley was untouched.

The 21-year old was arrested. But she never revealed the names of the masterminds behind this plan even after going through vigorous interrogation of 48 hours. “I can assure all that I could never have any personal grudge against any person or anything on earth; I have no sort of personal feelings against Sir Stanley Jackson, the man and Lady Jackson, the woman. But the Governor of Bengal represents the system of repression which has kept enslaved 300 millions of my countrymen and countrywomen.”

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She confessed her crime and said in her statement, "I confess that I fired at the Governor on the last Convocation Day at the Senate House. I hold myself entirely responsible for it. My object was to die, and if I had to die, I wanted to do it nobly, fighting against this despotic system of government which has kept my country in perpetual subjection to its infinite shame and endless sufferings, and all the while fighting in a way which cannot but tell. I fired at the Governor impelled by my love for my country which is being repressed and what I attempted to do for the sake of my country was great violence on my own nature too."

The Lady

She was Bina Das. She wasn’t a trained assassin but had a strong intention of fighting against the autocracy of British Raj. She was born to the renowned Brahmo teacher, Beni Madhab Das, and his wife, social worker Sarala Devi. Even Bina’s elder sister, Kalyani Das, was a freedom fighter. After her schooling, she joined the semi-revolutionary female-only Chhatri Sangha (Female Students’ Association). It was a group of 100 members from different schools of Calcutta, which trained and recruited future revolutionaries.

Kalyani was already an active member of the association and was arrested for distributing rebellious pamphlets. Many of these members left their homes to stay in a hostel established by Bina’s mother. Bombs were supplied by Kamala Das Gupta and hidden at this hostel. She also supplied revolver to Bina for the assassination of the Governor.

Although Bina was influenced by Gandhiji she was one of those young brave hearted who dared to hold up arms against the British for the freedom of her country.

The Governor

Sir Francis Stanley Jackson was a lot more than a politician. His cricket career is one of the best in England's history of the game. He was one of the finest all-rounders of England who represented his country in 20 test matches. All of these test matches were played against Australia in England. Jackson scored 1,415 runs at 48.79 and claimed 24 wickets at 33.29. He scored five hundred and had a five-wicket haul. He captained in five test matches during the Ashes 1905. He won only two matches as a captain but won all the toss. He made 492 runs with an average of 70, among his scores being 144 not out at Leeds, 113 at Manchester, 82 not out at Nottingham, 76 and 31 at The Oval. He also took 13 wickets at 15.46 each. He topped the bowling and batting average of both sides during his tenure of captaincy. Interestingly the visiting captain, Joseph Darling, and Stanley were exactly the same age and that was Darling's third visit as captain and his last tour in England.

His first-class venture was even more fascinating. Jackson played 309 matches to score 15901 runs and take 774 wickets.  Jackson played first for Yorkshire in 1890, and his last appearance for the side was in 1907.

India, Bengal & Five Bullets

Jackson’s stint with India was always bittersweet. Initially, he wasn’t a fan of Ranjitsinhji. In 1892-93 he visited India and his notion about KS Ranjitsinhji changed. James Coldham wrote in Stanley Jackson, A Cricketing Biography: “To the end of his career Jackson regarded unorthodoxy as the bedfellow of frivolity, as something not to be entirely trusted.” Later Stanley became one of the strongest reasons for the introduction of Ranji to the Cambridge side.

This medium fast bowler with an easy action and plenty of spins at his wrist had a successful political career as well. He went on to participate in the Second Boer War. He was elected as the Member of Parliament in the year of 1915. He resigned from the same seat in 1926 and soon after was designated as the Governor of Bengal. Later he went on to promote co-operative movements in Bengal.

When Bina Das opened fire at him, Sir Stanley ducked. Later according to ‘Glasgow Herald’ the Governor ‘owed his escape to his presence of mind in stepping aside and stopping to let the shots go wide.’  The same report suggested how Sir Stanley praised himself for his coolness and resumed his speech amid cheers. Probably without proper cricketing skill and ducking ability, Stanley could not save himself from those five back to back 'deliveries' coming from a brave-hearted young lady.

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