Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

Unsung Heroes Detail

Unsung Heroes Detail

Balwant Gopal Bhate

Ahmednagar, Maharashtra

June 30, 2022

Balwant Gopal Bhate’s early life information is not recorded. What we know through the archival correspondence is that he was a teacher in a missionary school at Ahmednagar. Though he was employed as a teacher, his approach was revolutionary and he was arrested in the Ahmednagar bomb outrage during the Quit India Movement. A case study on him is a showcase of how furiously a teacher attended the call of the nationalist movement. During the Quit India Movement, the scenes where commoners including teachers and students targeted the British officers were not uncommon. By 9th January 1943 in the Ahmednagar district of Bombay Presidency, for instance, twenty-nine explosions were reported out of which twenty-five were in the Ahmednagar city, three in Sangamner, and one at Belapur. Out of these, the most intense explosion took place on 25 December 1942, at a Christmas gathering in Sarosh Talkies, in Ahmednagar district. This blast left several British soldiers wounded. Comprehending the seriousness of the time, on 9 January 1943, the Inspector-General of Police from Poona, paid a visit to Ahmednagar. Following his visit, the investigation was handed over to CID on 27 December 1942. The investigating authorities reported that Balwant Gopal Bhate, a teacher in a Missionary school at Ahmednagar played an active role in the bomb outrage.

Consequently, Bhate’s apartment was raided on 17 January 1943, the raid revealed two crude bombs and some other types of explosives under preparation. The three long pages of the investigation suggest that other than the bombs, the investigative officers found a few documents and manuals on bomb-making. Bhate was arrested after the raid. In further investigation, it was discovered that the fragments of the bomb were those of No.36 Mill’s hand grenade, and the igniter set used in the grenade was made at the Krikee (Khadki) factory in October 1942. The Kirkee (Khadki) Ammunition factory was suspected to be related not just to the Ahmednagar bomb outrages but to multiple bomb blasts, which included the famous Capitol cinema bomb blast case in Poona. Bhate was suspected of being a major supplier of explosives coming out of the Krikee ammunition factory. Being involved in the hazardous activity of bomb-making and its supply, Balwant Gopal Bhate can be regarded as a man who dovetailed his love for his country, every moment, with the risk of his life. Information regarding his further trial and demise is under research.