All happened within the district of Midnapur in West Bengal and within the span of two years. Those killed were British I. C. S. officers. The martyrs were Bengali young men of the time. There was an old lady also. Organizationally help came from Dinesh Gupta. He had established the nucleus in 1927 when he was a student of Midnapur college. His disciples carried on the work but with headquarters at Calcutta which coordinated the activities. Dinesh himself fought in the Battle of the Verandah but somehow survived.
After much confabulation and discussion it was decided that the first target would be James Peddy. He had earned notoriety on his own. He would beat the satyagrahis to unconsciousness. Further, he would take the women to the open streets, strip them and leave them there. Such a culprit could not remain unpunished. A list of four names was sent to Calcutta Headquarters for approval. They were Shashanka Dasgupta (comet), Phani Kundu, Jyoti Jeevan Ghosh and Vimal Dasgupta. It was approved on the 10th April 1931. The next day, Phani and Vimal went to Kharagpur to get the weapons which came from Calcutta. On the very day, 11th, the Collector had called a meeting of the District Board at 1 p. m. Jyoti and Vimal reached by the time but it was changed to 10 a. m. The cursed Collector got a lease of life.
In the meantime, Peddy started a new technique of becoming popular, particularly among the students. He organised an exhibition for them between 1st and 7th April 1931. The initial plan was to kill him on the very day of inauguration which he never attended. This was his second escape. There was a third plan. Next to his bungalow was a playground. The two comrades were apparently busy playing but their eyes were on the target, who moved out exactly at 5 p. m. He was surrounded by teachers and officials. There was no light inside the premises as there was no electricity then. The two dare devils apparently posed themselves as helping the Collector but fired at close-range. He died the next day. People breathed a sigh of relief and blessed those who led their deliverance from the hands of the devil. Jyoti and Vimal came out safely and none suspected them at Midnapur. At that stage the whole district was seething with political activities. Salt Satyagraha by the Congress was at its height.
The great sacrifice by Matangini Hazra further electrified the atmosphere. She was an old uneducated widow, carrying aloft the national flag in hand when the police ordered her not to proceed. She defied and faced bullets boldly. The next in the list was Robert Douglas. Right from the assumption of office, he was apprehensive of danger to his own life and actually wrote so to his brother, a principal at Rajmundhry, on the 5th August. But he had to do his duty. On the 30th April 1932, he was presiding over a meeting of the District Board. Exactly at 5.30 p. m. he was signing some papers surrounded by members of the Board. There was nothing unusual. Exactly then two youngsters entered the room. Quickly came out bullets from the revolvers they were carrying which hit the target on the chest. He was rushed to the hospital where he breathed his last. This was the revenge on Douglas for his earlier crime of killing two unarmed young men at Hijli Detention Camp. The elder of the duo started firing and could escape. The younger and very handsome, Pradyot Bhattacharya was arrested. The usual torture followed to get the name of his comrade. But he was made of sterner stuff. His execution date was the 12th January 1933. The hangman, Shibu, could not pronounce the difficult name, but remembered the lovely face of Pradyot with affection and admiration. It is evident from a similar role he later played in Hemen Gupta's Bengali film, Bhuli Nai (Have not forgotten). The third in the list was D. E. Burge. He was very fond of Football and that was his undoing. His nemesis, Anath Panja and Mrigen Datta, were the chosen heroes to be.
There was a highly exciting match between Mohammedan Sporting of Calcutta and the local Town Club of which he has the president. Anath and Mrigen had already got mixed up with the players. Sharply at 5.15 p.m. Burge came in his car. Hardly had he entered the field, bullets came showering on him, 8 in all. He fell down dead. Utter confusion, commotion and consternation followed. Other British officers beat a hasty retreat. For them; prudence was the better part of valour'. The excitement of the match was far surpassed by the excitement of the murder of the third magistrate in a row, almost an annual feature, 1931, 1932 and 1933. Burge's bodyguard pounced on Mrigen. He was mauled and shot at. He died, killed by an Inspector. The police cordoned off the area and four persons were arrested. A reign of terror was let loose in the town. Even the army was called in.
There was a trial which the law demanded. All the accused in the football field murder case somehow managed to procure defence… Three of them, Brojo Kishore Roy Choudhary, Ram Krishna Roy and Nava Jeevan were awarded death sentence. Many others got lifer. The first two were executed on the 25th October and the last on the next morning.
On the 25th and the 26th, the whole sky of Midnapur was reverberating with inspiring cries of Bande Mataram from 3000 inmates of the jail. There were also women revolutionaries - Kalpana Datta, Savitri Devi, both associated with Surya Sen, and Ujwala Mazumdar of the Darjeeling Governor Shooting Case, who only prayed and shed tears in silence. The last words on the lips of the martyrs were: -
"We are going and leaving the unfinished task in your hands to finish;"
We have achieved Independence thereafter. But have we fulfilled their real dreams of building up a happy India? A question of questions indeed.