‘The Uncrowned King'! ‘The Black Bull'! ‘Deshpran'! –The titles given to him by the people, out of love, appreciation and admiration, speak volumes of the man who said, “For whom shall Ilive,if not for the people ?” and who, when the European S.D.O. of Contai threatened to make the town a second Jalianwalabag,said to his face that then he would be the first person to lay bare his bosom for the British bullet.
Parentage & early life:
On the 24th November, Birendranath was born at Chandiveti, a village a few miles from the Kanthi (Contai) town. His father's name was Biswambhar Sasmal and mother's Anandamoyee. He passed the Entrance Examination in 1900 and got admission into Ripon College of Calcutta for higher education. He went to England to study law, came back as a barrister and joined Calcutta High Court in 1904.
Active Life –
(1905 to 1911) : Openly for administrative reason,but covertly for a political one,Midnapore District was proposed to be divided into two.The southern part of the district including Contai was to be named Hijli District and Kharagpur was to be the administrative Center.Birendranath toured from one end of the region to another and organized the protest movement.The attempt of partition was foiled and the proposal was withdrawn.
1913 – Leaving Calcutta High Court, Birendranath practiced in Midnapore District Court for a few years but,in 1913,he again joined the High Court.In the High Court, he defended the accused in the Chittagong Armed Robbery case (the first organized armed struggle for independence after 1857)without taking any fee.
(1920) –Non-Co-operation Movement.
In Nagpur Congress in 1920,non-co-operation programme was passed. Chittaranjan Das was the President of Bengal Congress and Birendranath was its Secretary.In response to Gandhiji's call for non-co-operation, Birendranath was the first to give up his roaring practice and Desbandhu Chittaranjan was the illustrious second.
No – Tax – Movement (1920 –1922 )
Bengal Village Self –Government Act was passed in 1919.According to that law, 227 Union Boards were formed in the district. People were kept in the dark about the whys and wherefores of their introduction.Very few people took part in the election.Generally people regarded the new law as a plea to fleece them.Naturally resentment brewed all through the district.The Congress first consented to a movement against this law but then withdrew the consent. The Uncrowned King of Midnapore took up the cause of his people,and plunged into Boycott Movement.
The whole district rose up, but the movement was fiercest in Contai.Birendranath declared that he would walk on bare feet until the Union Boards were not done awey with.The boycott movement gained momentum day by day.People refused to pay tax.Police seized articles of movable property, but nobody was found to carry or buy them.Even the Chowkidars (the village guards)refused to serve the government.At last on 17th December,1921, 226 Union Boards were abolished and the last one was abolished the next year.In a mammoth gathering,with loud cheers,people put shoes on the feet of their favourite leader.
Chairman of Midnapore District Board : After Gaya Congress,in 1922,when Chittaranjan Das's demand for Independence in place of Dominion Status was Rejected,the Swarajya Party was formed by Motilal Nehru and while Chittaranjan was the president of its Bengal Unit,Birendranath became its Secretary.In 1923,when election was held for the Midnapore District Board ,the Swarajya party members under the leadership of Birendranath Sasmal had a thumping victory and naturally Birendranath became its Chairman.With limited scope and scanty means,Mr. Sasmal performed a herculean task for an all-round development of the district.
Labon Satyagraha (1930)
Birendranath's influence played a big role in the movement.His followers took active part in organizing people.Satyagrahis came to Narghat and Pichhhaboni to break Salt Law by peaceful means.The Satyagraha assumed the form of a mass movement in the area.
Electtion to Calcutta Corporation & Central Legislative Assembly & Death (1933-1934)
In 1933,Birendranath was elected to Calcutta Corporation in spite of the opposition of the Congress.At the request of Pandit Madan Mohon Malavya,he contested in Central Legislative Assembly election from a two –district seat of Burdwan division and won it but he had breathed his last before the result was announced.
Birendranath Sasmal was an ardent follower of Gandhiji.He had unflinching faith in Non-Violent movement.He thought-violence begets violence.He had some bitter experience in politics.But people loved him.Many Schools,Clubs, Organisations and streets that bear his name clearly indicate his permanent seat in the heart of people.