This Day in History (22-Jun-1897) – The Chapekar brothers shot British Officer Rand in Pune

The Chapekars three brothers, Damodar, Balkrishna and Wasudeo settled at Chinchawad near Pune. As the Chapekars grew, they began to feel that a deliberate attempt was being made to humiliate their religion by the reformers and Muslims, at the instigation of the British government. They organized an association for physical and military training which they called “the society for the removal of obstacles to the Hindu Religion”.

About the end of 1896 plague assumed an epidemic form in Bombay presidency. Rand was posted as a special officer to the city of Poona to fight the disease. Instead of helping the people to fight epidemic, british gave inhuman treatment to the residents. In revenge, Chapekar brothers determined to kill Rand, the chief source of all the harassment.They procured weapons and watched Rand’s movements for a few days.

On 22 June 1897 there were celebrations at the Government House in Ganesh Khind on account of the Queen’s diamond jubilee. Fireworks were let off from the nearby hills which attracted large crowds from the city in which the Chapekars easily mingled. As Rand’s carriage came out of the Government House at midnight, Damodar jumped on the back seat and fired his gun at Rand at point-blank range. The officer collapsed immediately, as also Lt. Ayerst who was in the carriage in front and who was fired upon by his brother Balkrishna.

In October, the police, working on information received from one Dravid, arrested Damodar in Bombay. Damodar died on the gallows on 18 April 1898. Balkrishna, who had escaped in Nizam’s territory, was traced and was hanged on 12 May 1899. In the meanwhile the third brother Wasudeo came to know of the treachery of Ganesh Shankar Dravid and gunned him in the evening of 9 February 1899. After a short trial he was sentenced to death and was hanged on 8 May.