Chittaranjan Das (C. R. Das) ( Chittor njon Dash) (popularly called Deshbandhu "Friend of the country") (5 November 1870 16 June 1925) was an Indian politician and leader of the Swaraj (Independence) Party in Bengal under British rule.
After failing the competitive entrance examination for the British-dominated Indian Civil Service, Das entered the legal profession. He defended many accused of political offenses and took an active part in nationalistic journalism.
Bitterly opposing British rule in India and rejecting all ideas of political or economic development of India along Western lines, he idealized the life of the ancient Indian village and saw a golden age in ancient Indian history. He supported the noncooperation movement launched against British rule by Mahatma Gandhi and in 1921 was imprisoned for six months as a political offender. In 1922 he became president of the Indian National Congress. Under his leadership the Congress abandoned its intentions to boycott colonially sponsored elections for provincial councils. It decided instead to participate in order to seek positions that would permit them to obstruct governmental business from within.
He belonged to the famous Das family of Telirbagh, in Bikrampur, Dhaka (now in Bangladesh). He was the son of Bhuban Mohan Das, and nephew of the Brahmo social reformer Durga Mohan Das. Some of his cousins were Satish Ranjan Das, Sudhi Ranjan Das, Sarala Roy and Lady Abala Bose. His eldest grandson was Siddhartha Shankar Ray and his granddaughter is Justice Manjula Bose.
Educated in England, where he became a Barrister, his public career began in 1909 when he successfully defended Aurobindo Ghosh on charges of involvement in the previous year's Alipore bomb case.
He was a leading figure in Bengal during the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1919-1922, and initiated the ban on British clothes, setting an example by burning his own European clothes and wearing Khadi clothes.
He brought out a newspaper called Forward and later changed its name to Liberty to fight the British Raj. When the Calcutta Corporation was formed, he became its first Mayor. He resigned his presidency of the Indian National Congress at the Gaya session after losing a motion on "No Council Entry" to Gandhi's faction. He then founded the Swaraj Party, with veteran Motilal Nehru and young Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, to express his immoderate opinions .
He was a believer of non-violence and constitutional methods for the realisation of national independence, and advocated Hindu-Muslim unity, cooperation and communal harmony and championed the cause of national education. His legacy was carried forward by his disciples, and notably by Subhash Chandra Bose.
He is generally referred to by the honorific Desh Bandhu meaning "friend of the nation."
In 1925, Das's health began to fail and in May he withdrew to a mountain home in Darjeeling, where Mahatma Gandhi visited him. On 16 June 1925, with a severe fever, he died.
The funeral procession in Calcutta was led by Gandhi, who said:
Deshbandhu was one of the greatest of men... He dreamed... and talked of freedom of India and of nothing else... His heart knew no difference between Hindus and Mussalmans and I should like to tell Englishmen, too, that he bore no ill-will to them.
A few years before his death Das gifted his house and the adjoining lands to the nation to be used for the betterment of the lives of women. Today it is a huge hospital called Chittaranjan Seva Sadan and has gone from being a women's hospital to one where all specialties are present. The Chittaranjan Cancer Hospital which was established in this premises in 1950 is now Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute. Chittaranjan Park is a locality adjoining Greater Kailash II in South Delhi, which houses many Bengalis who fled to India during partition
In Bangladesh to commemorate his birth anniversary there is a half mast of the national flag at midnight .This is generally done to pay respect to him though he was not associated with the formation of Bangladesh but since he was born in modern Bangladesh this is done to pay him homage.
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