© Copyright (2005)  Southeast Conference of the Association of the Association of Asian Studies.  SEC/AAS

Return to Contents, Volume XXVII, Southeast Review of Asian Studies








The closing decades of the nineteenth century witnessed the British Empire at its zenith, supremely confident in its permanence and infallibility.  Yet, when cracks in the veneer of the Empire did begin to appear, they were caused not merely by upheavals of fortune in the Sudan, nor by rivalry with Russia and Germany.  Rather, the Empire’s greatest challenges came from internal turmoil, as the Second Boer War (1899-1902) erupted in South Africa, and Ireland and India grew increasingly strident in their demands for Home Rule.  To critics in Ireland and India, the Boer War was but the latest manifestation of British arrogance and swagger, providing fuel for nationalist ambitions.  Alarmed at the overt demonstration of imperialist ambition in the Transvaal, nationalist leaders in both countries actively promoted self-government, launching a campaign of protest, obstruction, and civil disobedience.  Although the Indian National Congress and the Irish Parliamentary Party pursued constitutional means to achieve Home Rule, the elitist composition of the two bodies ensured that neither would enjoy broad appeal.[1]  Thus, the emergence of a viable native press played a critical role in the forging of a national identity, providing a valuable forum for the masses, and framing the national debate with urgency and lucidity.


While historians have begun to explore the impact of Irish nationalism on India’s own journey toward independence, few studies have examined the link between Irish and Indian journalism.  What is significant is not whether Indian journalists looked to Ireland’s journalists for inspiration, but that the British Government perceived such a link, in terms of literary tone, editorial content, political agenda, and impact on the masses.  Did that perception dictate the course of government policy toward India’s journalists?   Were the Government’s preemptive policies on the sub-continent a reflexive reaction to a rebellious Irish press, rather than to an emboldened Indian press?  Did there, in fact, come a time when the perceived link between the Indian and Irish press became a verifiable reality?                   


A vocal native press was not a novelty in either country.  By 1870, Irish journalists had earned a reputation in Parliament for stirring up “incalculable mischief,”[2]

while in India, government officials had long feared the specter of Indian journalists “breathing disaffection and sedition among the ignorant masses.”[3]  Increasingly bold criticism of the Empire precipitated a wave of legislation that washed up on the shores of Ireland and India.  The 1870 Peace Preservation (Ireland) Act was notable for the inclusion of the so-called Irish Press Act, which mandated the confiscation of all printing equipment from any newspaper accused of printing seditious articles.[4]  The Act met with fierce opposition from such Irish parliamentarians as the brilliant orator G. H. Moore, MP for Mayo, who accused the government of hiding behind a “fictitious panic from agrarian outrage” in order to obtain sovereignty over the press.[5]    


When in 1877 the Government of India became the victim of what they perceived as increasingly hostile attacks from the vernacular press, members of the Legislative Council of the Governor General seized upon what they termed the “Irish Press Law” as a suitable remedy for muzzling their own native journalists.[6]  Lord Lytton, the Viceroy of India, was of the opinion that the press had overstepped its bounds, progressing from criticism of governmental procedures and personnel to the assertion that British rule in India should—quite simply—end.  In a telegram to the Secretary of State, Lytton asserted that the Vernacular Press, “at all times mischievous, is especially dangerous now, when Native community believes our power seriously weakened by events elsewhere.”[7]    


Council members who cast only a cursory look at the conditions prompting the 1870 Irish legislation could be forgiven for concluding that the situation was analogous to that which confronted them in India.  During the heated debate that presaged the passage of the 1870 act, Richard Dowse, the Solicitor General for Ireland, decried the incendiary tone of the Irish press which he characterized as doing its utmost to “poison the minds of the Irish people against England and English institutions.”[8]  Eight years later, the Honourable Sir Alexander Arbuthnot would use similar language, labeling the writings of India’s native press “a mischievous and poisonous literature.”[9]   


            Writing in 1877, Lord Lytton termed the Irish act “very applicable to the circumstances of this country, and in itself quite unobjectionable.”[10]  In fact, the Vernacular Press Act proved objectionable to the native press on several counts.  Printers and publishers of  India’s native language newspapers were required to enter into a bond in which they pledged not to print or publish anything that would excite disaffection to the British Government.  Furthermore, the Government could require these same printers and publishers to post a security deposit, which they would forfeit should the Government find reason to suppress the journal in question.  Like the Irish Press Act, suppression entailed the impounding of all printing equipment and the shuttering of the physical plant. 


            Though Lytton and his Legislative Council were astute in noting similarities between the Irish press and the Indian press—most notably in the pointed critiques of the British Government—the situations were not, in fact, wholly analogous.  The Irish Press Act was only a temporary measure, whereas the viceroy was proposing a permanent piece of legislation.[11]   While the former targeted all papers printed in Ireland, the proposed Indian legislation made a distinction between English newspapers and those journals printed in the vernacular.[12]    Moreover, whereas the British Government enacted the Irish coercive measure during a time of agrarian agitation and rebellion, India, by contrast, was enjoying an era of relative peace.   


Indeed, the marked difference in the general tenor of the two countries was reflected in the tone of the newspaper editorials.  While the Irishman of 16 October 1870 openly threatened, “There are 100,000 men in the country to-day [sic] who are ready, if necessary, to go to the fullest extent for its liberty,” the Indian press employed more subtle language.[13]  Noting that British policies “are secretly fostering a feeling of discontent in the minds of the people,” the Induprakásh was content to issue a sotto voce warning: “Such feelings cannot lead to good results.”[14]  Certainly, there were those among the native press whose rhetoric bordered on the seditious, and, at times, strode aggressively over the line.[15]  However, the majority of articles and editorials in this era questioned the morality of British rule, seeking rather to shame the Government into revoking policies that brought no honor to the British Empire.  


Theirs was, for the most part, a gentlemanly opposition, instilled in the educated class by decades of exposure to British traditions.  Ironically, the desire of India’s wealthier families to see their children receive a proper English education may have resulted in introducing their offspring to the means of ousting the British Raj from India.  By the end of the nineteenth century, the progeny of India’s elite had become a fixture at such English institutions as Harrow, Cambridge, and the Inns of Law.  While living in the United Kingdom, the students were exposed to methods of Irish nationalists, whose obstructive and disruptive assaults on the Empire were daily news.  Formative years spent observing the Irish Home Rule struggles influenced not only such noted Indian leaders as Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) and Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), but also an entire roster of Indian scholars and nationalists.[16] 


In 1878, however, the fiery rhetoric of Ireland’s nationalists had yet to be exported to India.  Tellingly, rather than take comfort in the comparative civility of the times, Lytton and his associates sought to take advantage of them.  Insisting that the new bill was merely a precautionary measure, the Viceroy suggested that it was better to enact the legislation at a time of peace, “when the minds of men are calm.”[17]  In this, the language of the deliberations leading up to the act was significant, with the viceroy and members of his Legislative Council at pains to emphasize that the Vernacular Press Act was a preventative measure and not a punitive undertaking.  


In truth, there were few significant parallels between conditions in Ireland and India.  Rather, what was striking in its similarity was the attitude of the British Government toward the Irish and Indian populace.  To underscore the necessity of an Irish Press Act, MP Chichester Fortescue painted a portrait of an ignorant Irish  peasantry, all too easily swayed by the incendiary prose of nationalist Irish papers:


It is known how that weekly literature poisons the minds of the people

in Ireland who read it against all law and against the Constitution of the

country.  It is known how it inflames the passions of the people by the

rhetorical descriptions of the wrongs of other days.  It is known how it

makes it impossible for those who read that literature, and read none other,

to know the truth with respect to public affairs and the real conduct and

intentions of the Government of the country.[18] 


            This same wariness of the masses was a thread woven throughout the rhetoric calling for passage of the Vernacular Press Act.  In particular, Alexander Arbuthnot’s words go a long way toward explaining why the Government of India was particularly nervous about the native press:


The publications of the Vernacular Press are circulated among a class of

the Population far more ignorant than those classes which are reached by

the English Papers, and are therefore calculated to be much more mischievous

in their effects.  Such publications to which I have alluded appeal to the

ignorant and the unenlightened.  They influence and pervert the minds of

the young, and go far to counteract the benefits of the education we are endeavoring to impart to them.[19]   


Though the measure was speedily passed into law, there was, in fact, no unanimity concerning the actual need for the Vernacular Press Act.  Pointedly, the Council of India had not been consulted during deliberations.[20]  Writing in dissent, Sir Thomas Erskine Perry heatedly objected to the fact that “we are called upon, and the Legislature of India was called upon, at a moment’s notice, to reverse the policy which has prevailed in India for the last fifty years.”[21]  In Perry’s estimation, the legislation was ill-advised as the threat was only “prospective and possible ... not present, actual, imminent.”[22]  In addition to dismissing the need for the bill, Perry and his fellow dissenters on the Council of India, Sir William Muir (Council member 1876-85) and Colonel Henry Yule (Council member 1875-1889), objected to the distinction made between English and native language papers, as well as the undue haste in pressing the passage of the bill in one sitting. 


The exclusionary practices of the Legislative Council did not escape the notice of the Liberals in Parliament.  While Irish Parliamentarians were present to dissent in the case of the Peace Preservation (Ireland) Act, Gladstone lamented the composition of the Legislative Council during deliberations on the Vernacular Press Act, noting, “The only Native who sat in the Council expressly and carefully reserved his judgment.”[23]  Colonel Yule stated bluntly, “This is not a modification of the law.  It is a suspension of the law.”  In the Colonel’s withering characterization, “It was not so much agitation of the public mind that the Government of India desired to avoid; it was independent discussion.”[24]     

Still, those on the ground in India who would presumably have to deal with an incipient rebellion were convinced of the necessity of the bill, just as Englishmen had been convinced of the necessity of an Irish bill eight years previously.  In 1870, the alarming proximity of Irish discontent unnerved English MP’s and blinded them to any evils in the Irish Press Act.  Now, apparently buffered by the distance between England and any Indian uprising, the same august body that voted to crack down on the Irish press was vociferous in its opposition to suppression of the Indian press. 


Signed into law on 14 March 1878, Lytton’s Vernacular Press Act unleashed a torrent of indignant India ink, with irate journalists accusing the Government of “smothering to death the infant institution of the Native press.”[25]  Observers of earlier reaction to Irish coercion laws could not have been surprised at the resulting uproar on the sub-continent.  Far from suppressing or curbing native criticism, the Vernacular Press Act served only to unite the native press—as well as public opinion—as never before.  In 1881, popular sentiment compelled the British Government to repeal the act, just as it had repealed the Peace Preservation (Ireland) Act only four years after its introduction.  With both pieces of legislation immediately engulfed in public controversy, neither act served as a deterrent or, for that matter, proved enforceable.  Ultimately, England’s determi-nation to apply to India the lessons of Ireland was a sound idea—hampered by a crippling inability to learn from her own mistakes.    


Government treatment of the press in India followed a pattern of surveillance, suppression, and prosecution previously established in Ireland.[26]  British unease over the developing relationship between Ireland and India had long been evident in its monitoring of Indian journalism.  Newspapers were collected, pored over, and translated by British Intelligence on a weekly basis, with summaries assembled under such headings as “Native States,” “Famine,” “Railways,” and “Education.”  To these traditional headings, the compilers would eventually add “Ireland.”  Headlines heralding  “Alleged necessity of a combination between India, Ireland, and South Africa in the struggle against British oppression” or “Exhortation to the people of India to imitate Russian and Irish methods of political agitation” reveal the depth of paranoia concerning the growing bond between Ireland and India.[27] 


Stepping forward to exploit the Empire’s discomfort was a pantheon of charismatic Irish and Indian leaders.  Out of the complex tangle of Irish agrarian upheaval, William O’Brien (1852-1928) emerged as a passionate disciple of the methods of Charles Stewart Parnell.[28]  Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920)—impatient with constitutional methods—founded the Extremist movement within the Indian National Congress, proclaiming swaraj (home rule) as his birthright.[29]  Inspired by Hungary’s successful challenge to the Austrian Empire, Arthur Griffith (1872-1922) planted the seeds of Hungarian rebellion in Irish soil, defining the tenets of Irish nationalism.  Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) parlayed the tactics of boycott and obstruction into a preeminent role on the nationalist stage, while radical Bengal leader B.C. Pal (1858-1932) went to jail rather than give evidence before British law courts.  In an exemplary display of nineteenth century multi-tasking, these same names that figured so prominently in the history of Irish and Indian nationalism also graced the mastheads of their country’s most vital and vocal newspapers.  Not satisfied with merely reporting the events of the day, O’Brien, Tilak, Griffith, Ghose, Pal, and their compatriots were defining the critical issues and making the news.


In its surveillance and prosecution of newspaper editors, the Government of India once again took its cue from a series of prosecutions brought against editors in Ireland.  Pledging to join with those who had “fought under the flag of Irish Nationalism,” William O’Brien had founded United Ireland in August of 1881, at the height of the agrarian struggles in Ireland.[30]  Disdaining the “cringing servility” adopted by many of their journalistic brethren, United Ireland’s editors proudly referred to their new broadsheet as “an insurrection in print,” and were unwavering in their support of Charles Stewart Parnell and his controversial boycott movement.[31]  Within months, O’Brien’s advocacy of Parnell and inflammatory criticism of the British Government had earned him the enmity of Dublin Castle.[32]  When Parliament attempted to silence the protests, O’Brien protested in silence, inserting into every issue of United Ireland a blank column resembling an editorial tombstone, topped by an epitaph that read “Freedom of the Press in Ireland in 1881.”[33]  Arrested in 1887 for his part in the “Plan of Campaign,” O’Brien’s trial and imprisonment focused unwanted attention on the Irish Land Wars, while the suppression of his paper in 1881 and 1890 allowed the editor to launch vitriolic broadsides at the inhabitants of Dublin Castle. [34]


Indian Nationalist leaders followed the Irish Land Wars and Parnell’s Home Rule agitation with interest, recognizing in the movement a functional template that could be effectively deployed in their own fractious relationship with Mother England.  Among those who came under the influence of Parnell during the 1880s was Sri Aurobindo Ghose, future editor of the newspaper Bande Mataram and an integral figure in the shaping of Indian nationalist philosophy.  A student at Cambridge during the height of Parnell’s movement, Ghose would later import the Irishman’s ideas to India, offering a stirring defense of Parnell’s tactics.  “Boycott,” Ghose insisted, “is an act of self-defense, of aggression for the sake of self-preservation.  To call it an act of hate is to say that a man who is being slowly murdered, is not justified in striking at his murderer.”[35]    Indeed, not satisfied with Parnell’s relatively limited form of boycott, Ghose transformed the protest into a multi-pronged assault that incorporated economic, social, and judicial boycotts, as well as a boycott of the Indian educational system.


Just as the prosecution of William O’Brien galvanized Irish nationalists, Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s arrest and trial in 1897 was a flashpoint in relations between the government and its Indian subjects.  In 1881, the same year that William O’Brien first published United Ireland, Bal Gangadhar Tilak founded two weeklies, both published in the province of Poona: the Marathi-language Kesari and the English language Mahrátta.  Tilak despaired of the constitutional methods preferred by his countrymen, comparing the annual session of the Indian National Congress to the “croaking of frogs in the rains.”[36]    He decried the British despotism that had transformed India’s would-be activists into what he termed “an aggregate of disunited, dispirited, unenergetic, unambitious, indifferent, unprincipled, selfish, cowardly fellows.”[37]   


The man who would be hailed as the Lokamanya—“The Revered One”—remained uninhibited in his passion for Mother India, unbridled in his enthusiasm for Home Rule, and unstoppable in his attacks on the Government of India.  In articles and editorials, Tilak championed the plight of Indian’s poverty-stricken rural population, deploring the oppressive taxation and shortsighted policies that resulted in what he termed the “helplessness … moral degradation … and utter exhaustion of the masses.”[38]    He called for the revitalization of Indian industry and a program of national education to uplift the peasantry and promote a sense of unity and identity.  In addition, he established common ground with his Hindu brethren by reviving the Ganapati festival and celebrating the birth of Shivaji.[39]  With good reason, Jawaharlal Nehru credited Tilak with being the first Indian nationalist to reach the masses.


On 27 July 1897, British authorities invoked Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, to arraign Tilak on exciting feelings of disaffection via articles appearing in the 15 June issue of the Kesari. [40]   The timing of the articles was critical, appearing shortly before the assassination of Plague Commissioner W.C. Rand and army officer Lieutenant Charles Egerton Ayerst on the evening of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.[41]  Of concern to the authorities was Tilak’s pronouncement that “No blame attaches to any person if he is doing his deeds without being actuated by a desire to reap the fruit of his deeds.”[42]  Though they possessed no definitive proof of his guilt, such inflammatory comments—coupled with Tilak’s well-known ability to sway public opinion—prompted the Government to suspect the editor of complicity in the assassinations.[43] 


In the articles under suspicion, Tilak had discussed Shivaji’s slaying of the Muslim officer, Afzal Khan, and published a poem entitled “Shivaji’s Utterances,” in which Shivaji lamented the devastated condition of his nation:  “What ruin is this! / The foreigners teasingly and forcibly drag away Lakshmi by the hand / With her plenty has run away and health has followed.”[44]  Suggesting that Tilak merely adopted the form of a poem to “disguise the real seditious intention of the writer,” the prosecution advised the jury to consider how easily swayed was the class of persons who would normally read the Kesari, contrasting that readership with the “highly educated people” of England.[45]  As with William O’Brien’s trial in Ireland, Tilak’s trial served not as a deterrent, but as a rallying cry for the masses. In towns throughout India, citizens founded branches of the Tilak Defence Fund, with all contributed monies to be forwarded to the editor.  That Tilak was found guilty and sentenced to eighteen months “rigourous imprisonment” further hardened public sentiment toward the Government.[46] 


By the onset of the twentieth century, the British Empire had grown increasingly obsessed with the similarity between Irish rebellion and Indian agitation, between caustic Irish editors and their critical Indian counterparts.  Indian editors, however, were preoccupied with the very real differences in the situation.  While admittedly both nations were chafing under the British yoke, Indian nationalists sensed that rebellious “white” Irishmen were treated with more leniency than an Indian would be in an identical confrontation with the government. The Pratod of 28 January 1901 opined, “The difference in the way in which Indians and the Irish are treated appears to be due solely to the difference in the colour of their skin.  The Irish are of the same blood as our rulers, whilst we are aliens to them.”[47]  For their part, the editors of Shri Sayiji Vijay insisted that Indians would never follow the example of the disloyal Irish, because “loyalty and gentleness are deeply ingrained in the Hindu character.”[48]  In a cogent comparison, Tilak observed that popular protests in India ceased abruptly whenever the Government of India imprisoned the movement’s leaders, whereas in Ireland, such imprisonment only precipitated greater agitation on the part of the populace.[49]  


Ironically, Britain’s own shortsighted policies provided the bricks and mortar that would finally cement the connection between Irish and Indian nationalist editors.  From the inaugural issues of the Mahrátta and the Kesari, Tilak placed the example of Ireland in front of his readership, extolling the Irish people as “resolute, patriotic, and self-sacrificing.”[50]  Tilak’s counterpart in Ireland was Arthur Griffith, who, more than any other journalist or politician, clearly articulated his country’s policy of “uncompromising Irish nationalism.”[51]  Founding the United Irishman in 1899, Griffith laid out a blueprint for constructing a national identity.  Influenced by the struggle in Hungary, he devoted columns of newsprint to drawing the parallels between the two countries, exhorting his readers to emulate the successful continental model.  Placing an emphasis on self-reliance, the editor claimed credit for his paper in pioneering the Irish industrial movement.[52]  Like Tilak, Griffith advocated a program of national education in which Irish culture and Irish history would take precedence, and he proudly championed Irish poets, novelists, and playwrights.  


By the turn of century, more than one hundred and seventy different newspapers were published on a daily or weekly basis in India.  While the English-language Mahrátta had a circulation of fewer than one thousand, the Marathi-language Kesari could boast a readership of 14,500.[53]   By 1908 the popularity of the Kesari had moved beyond the boundaries of the Bombay Presidency, and Tilak’s influence was felt across a broad section of India’s provinces.  Not only was the paper popular in the Marathi-speaking provinces, a Hindi version published in Nagpur circulated throughout the United Provinces and the Punjab.[54]  Moreover, circulation figures were hopelessly inadequate in gauging the actual audience of a journal, as it was the custom in India to read newspapers aloud at gatherings, repeat the news to a neighbor, and pass newspapers from hand to hand.[55]


Though Ireland could not equal India’s prolific publication or population figures, the last quarter of the nineteenth century saw a spate of new nationalist newspapers, including the Leinster Leader (1880), the Tipperary Nationalist, (1881), the Carlow Nationalist (1883), and the Limerick Leader (1889)—proof that the crusade for Home Rule was thriving outside the politically charged air of Dublin.  Nothwithstanding the mounting anti-British sentiment in both India and Ireland, the journalistic protests had done little to effect measurable change in the hearts and minds of their countrymen.

Clearly, on both continents, nationalists needed a catalyst to breathe life into the struggle.


In India, it took only a few strokes of Viceroy Lord Curzon’s pen to shatter the passivity that had settled over much of the sub-continent.  In July 1905, Curzon signed an order mandating the Partition of Bengal, effective 16 October of that year.[56]   Bengal had long been a hotbed of revolutionary sentiment, but the controversial 1905 Partition precipitated an acceleration of terrorist activities.  Whereas Partition may have inflamed the passions of a broad spectrum of nationalists, Bengalese revolutionaries saw in Britain’s high-handed maneuvers further proof that swaraj would never be achieved through peaceful means, alone. 


Employing a phrase oddly reminiscent of that used by the British to describe Irish journalists, the Mahrátta declared, “the amount of mischief done to the Bengali nation ... is simply incalculable.”[57]  The Kesari instantly and unconditionally backed the new swadeshi movement, aimed at boycotting British goods in favor of indigenous wares.[58]  The Mahrátta stated simply, “If we are ever to be a nation, it is clear that we must begin by showing our power to deal with this problem.”[59]  On 27 August 1905, the paper went further, publishing an anonymous article that proclaimed, “The time has come when all lies must be conscientiously eschewed from our political platform, including even the white lie of loyalty.”[60]  When Lord Curzon accepted a second term of viceroyalty—ostensibly to finish the work he had begun—the Kesari cast doubt on the viceroy’s motives.  Likening him to a hard-hearted butcher who takes perverse pleasure in slaughtering a cow—an image certainly designed to excite the passions of Hindu readers—Tilak’s paper accused Curzon of wanting to “lay the last strokes of his knife at the throat of Bengal.”[61]    


Indian nationalists were closely monitoring events in the Emerald Isle, exclaiming, “a terrible swadeshi movement is set on foot in Ireland ... the Irish have given up all hope of being benefited by laws passed by the British Parliament.”[62]  For their part, Irish nationalists were also taking an active interest in the swadeshi movement in India, noting striking similarities to Ireland’s own industrial movement.[63]  To the editorial staff of the United Irishman, it indicated, “Hindus have learned that one ounce of the Sinn Féin policy is more effective than a ton of appeal in getting home to the British conscience.”[64] 


Sinn Féin (“Ourselves Alone”) was the new movement that had swept across Ireland, signaling a shift of enormous magnitude in Irish politics.  Its co-founder and president was none other than Arthur Griffith, who had shuttered the United Irishman, supplanting it in 1906 with the new Sinn Féin weekly.  Billing itself as Ireland’s “National Industrial Journal,” Sinn Féin weekly aggressively pursued the same agenda as its predecessor, pressing for homegrown industries and national education.  In the pages of his new paper, Griffith proposed a non-violent platform of passive resistance and “integral nationalism,” as well as a revival of Irish literature and a celebration of Irish history.[65]  By focusing on the island’s storied past, Arthur Griffith managed to identify a critical element necessary to the creation of Irish nationalism, just as Tilak had recognized the efficacy of reviving Hindu festivals.  The “Gaelic Revival” featured a celebration of such mythical Irish heroes as Cuchulainn, and served to remind Irishmen of an ancient Celtic heritage that marked them as separate and apart from their English adversaries.[66]  Moreover, Griffith was a steadfast proponent of the Irish language, once ceding the front page of Sinn Féin to a Gaelic translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam.


The campaign not only evoked a responsive chord in the Irish psyche, it also captured the attention of journalists in India who saw fit to allot considerable space to coverage of Griffith’s pronouncements.  By now, the Irish nationalist was as familiar a figure to readers of the Kesari and the Mahrátta as swadeshi was to readers of the United Irishman and its successor Sinn Féin.  The Kesari cited Griffith’s condemnation of the British educational system, decrying the fact that “the language and religion of the conquered people have no importance therein, while the historical and intellectual traditions of the conquered communities find no place in it.”[67]   


During the boycott of British goods which followed the Partition of Bengal, Bipan

Chandra Pal, a radical Bengal leader who shared editing duties of Bande Mataram with Ghose, also elected to emulate Sinn Féin tactics with his refusal to give evidence before British law courts.[68]  And though in 1907 Motilal Nehru advised his son at Cambridge to steer clear of Irish disturbances in Belfast, Jawaharlal Nehru’s response was to declare his own admiration for Sinn Féin: “It is a most interesting movement and resembles very closely the so-called Extremist movement in India.”[69] 


The comparison of Sinn Féin to the Extremists in India was an apt one, given that it was Tilak, the leader of the movement, who was responsible for the distribution of Sinn Féin pamphlets in India.  Tilak commandeered the pages of the Kesari and the Mahrátta to espouse a nearly identical national program to that which Arthur Griffith and Sinn Féin were now advocating—pressing for self-government, promoting self-reliance or swadeshi, and insisting on a program of national education that focused on native history and culture.  The editors of the Kál and other Indian organs joined with Tilak in extolling Griffith’s nationalist agenda and freely borrowed the Irishman’s language and sentiments, peppering their editorials with “Mr. Griffith says . . .” and “Mr. Griffith recommends. . . .” The Poona-based Kál proclaimed that “what Mr. Griffith wants the Irish to do should be done by Indians as well” and advised that its Indian readers would benefit by following Ireland’s new-found campaign of self-reliance.[70]   The Bombay-based Vehári applauded Griffith’s exhortation to cripple Britain financially by avoiding enlistment in the British army or investment in British banks.  The Vehári’s editor stated pointedly, “Mr. Griffith’s advise is sound and should be acted upon by every enslaved people, who hanker after independence.”[71] 


No discussion of Arthur Griffith and B. G. Tilak would be complete, however, without mention of their somewhat ambiguous attitudes toward violence.  Certainly, neither editor ever advocated in print the use of physical force—preferring boycott, obstructionism, and passive resistance to the use of arms.  However, Griffith was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and, as mentioned, there is considerable evidence that Tilak lent his private support to the perpetrators in the Rand assassination case.[72]  Moreover, for all his toil, effort, and literary eloquence, Tilak must also bear responsibility for his inability to prevent the splintering of the national psyche.  Determined to instill a sense of national pride in his readers by stressing India’s ancient heritage, Tilak’s continued emphasis on the Hindu religion and culture alienated India’s Muslim population and became a prime factor in exacerbating communal tensions.  Deflecting any personal blame for the widening divide, the editor persisted in indicting British attitude and policy.  Yet, Tilak’s undisguised animosity toward the British undoubtedly turned his readers’ minds to thoughts of retribution and violence.


These years marked the apex of Irish and Indian awareness of a common cause.  Whether it was through the element of violence or sacrifice, Ireland’s struggles against British rule made a direct, emotional, visceral appeal to Indian patriotism, self-reliance, and national pride.  It was a bond that Britain had long suspected, but one that might never have materialized without the Empire’s nearsighted and reactionary policies toward its subjects.  Moreover, Britain’s maladroit handling of the press served only to strengthen resistance within journalist quarters, compelling them to join forces to harass and torment their occupiers.  


The reciprocity of ideas, the parallel tracks of Irish and Indian nationalism, and the extraordinary dual role played by such journalist-statesmen as Tilak and Griffith mark this as a particularly telling era in the waning decades of the British Empire.  The relationship between native journalists during this era has been the subject of little research and is deserving of further study.  While it appears irrefutable that the Irish rebellion had a profound effect on the course of India’s independence, India’s leading journalists did not, in fact, depend on Ireland’s journalists to set their agenda.  Indeed, struggling financially and at a loss for an issue that would rally Irish readers to the cause of self-reliance, Arthur Griffith took his cue from India’s journalists—appropriating the Indian boycott and swadeshi campaigns to lend momentum to his own Sinn Féin movement. 


A more accurate appraisal of Ireland’s impact would be to say that the Irish campaign validated the path India had chosen in her struggle for independence.  Therefore, while the obstructionist measures of Indian leaders frequently emulated the Irish nationalist paradigm, the creation of a critical native press must be characterized as an independent and spontaneous phenomenon in India.  British unease with the constant barrage of Irish criticism led to a misreading of conditions on the ground in India, which in turn led to the enactment of ill-conceived legislation.   Equating a mostly respectful Indian press writing at a time of relative peace with a querulous Irish press writing at the onset of agrarian agitation was a miscalculation of considerable proportions—an error that would have dramatic implications for the Empire.  Resentment toward such reactionary measures as the Vernacular Press Act made it inevitable that publishers and editors in India would mount spirited opposition.  For India’s journalists, the seeds of rebellion were sown not by their Irish counterparts, but by British legislative myopia.  In one of history’s great ironies, Britain’s actions in India were dictated not by India, but by Ireland; India’s actions were dictated not by Ireland, but by Britain.  


Moreover, such visionaries as Bal Gangadhar Tilak and B.C. Pal were charting their own course, mindful not only of India’s similarities to Ireland, but also its profound differences.  Regardless of the British perception of uniform tactics, conditions on the ground in India were markedly different from those in Ireland.  Though an occupying presence since the demise of the East India Company, the comparatively recent history of British rule in India could not compare to the centuries long presence of Britain in Ireland, nor was the relationship between the Empire and its Indian subjects comparable to its relationship with its white, English-speaking Irish subjects.  Tilak, Pal, Ghose, and their fellow editors in the Indian press were compelled to chart their own course and devise their own ambitious agenda.


 By the turn of the century, that agenda was almost indistinguishable from the agenda of such Irish nationalists as Arthur Griffith.  The native press articulated both the necessity of a national identity and the means by which to construct it.  Buoyed by—but not beholden to—their Irish journalistic brethren, the editors of the Kesari, the Mahrátta, Bande Mataram, and others reached out to the masses, demanding Indian self-reliance, encouraging education, supporting indigenous industry, revitalizing the native language, championing native culture, and celebrating Hindu heritage.  Moreover, by highlighting the progress of other British subjects in the struggle toward nationhood, they persuaded their readers that the end was attainable.  While the politicians debated and discussed issues amongst themselves, their rhetoric failed to connect with their constituents.  Without the native press to disseminate ideas, it is doubtful whether Indian nationalists could have mounted effective resistance to the imperial aspirations of the British Raj.

[1] Formed with the intent of pressuring Britain to cede India a greater role in the administration of her own affairs, the Indian National Congress held its first annual meeting in Calcutta in December of 1885. Composed almost exclusively of India’s educated elite, Congress nevertheless saw its role as giving a unified voice to the masses of India. For further reading on Ireland’s influence on the founders of the Indian National Congress, see Howard Brasted’s “Indian Nationalist Development and the Influence of Irish Home Rule, 1870-1886” in Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1980), 37-63, as well as “Irish Models and the Indian National Congress” in South Asia, Vol. 8, No. 1-2 (1985), 24-45, by the same author.

Ireland’s own Home Rule movement had been launched in 1870 by Isaac Butt.  It was later reformed as the Home Rule League.

[2] The charge was leveled by Sir Frederick W. Heygate, during debates in the House of Commons on the Peace Preservation (Ireland) Bill, 17 March 1870.  Hansard Parliamentary Debates, 3rd ser., vol. cc, (1870), col. 106-108.

[3] Cited in Council of India. Opinions, and Reasons for the same, entered in the Minutes of Proceedings of the Council of India, relating to the Vernacular Press Act, 1878 [Hereafter referred to as Opinions and Reasons], Lytton Collection, MSS EUR E218/146, Oriental and India Office Collection [hereafter OIOC], British Library.

[4] The Peace Preservation (Ireland) Act, 1870. Public General Acts, 33 and 34 Victorie, 

London, 1870.

[5] Parliamentary Debates, vol. cc, col. 333-335.

[6] Minute by the Viceroy, 22 October 1877, in Copy of Correspondence between the Viceroy of India and the Secretary of State on the subject of Act IX of 1878. [hereafter referred to as Correspondence], Lytton Collection, MSS EUR E218/147, OIOC, British Library.  For an in-depth examination of the deliberations leading to the passage of the Vernacular Press Act and the impact of that piece of legislation, see Somnath’s Roy “Repercussions of the Vernacular Press Act, 1878” in Journal of Indian History, Vol. XLV, Part III, December 1967, No. 135, 735-748.

[7] Telegram from the Viceroy of India to the Secretary of State, Calcutta, 13 March 1878, in Correspondence.  At the time of Lytton’s statement, the British Empire was, indeed, preoccupied with a series of trouble spots around the world.  Tensions between Britain and Russia were escalating; the onset of the First Afghan War (1878-80) was only months away; the Zulu war would erupt in 1879; and British troops would become embroiled in a war of independence in the Transvaal with the First Boer War (1880-81).

[8] Parliamentary Debates, vol. cc, col. 366.

[9] Correspondence, 13.  Sir Alexander Arbuthnot (1822-1907) was appointed to the Legislative Council in May of 1875, serving for five years. He returned to England in May of 1880, and watched with displeasure as Lytton’s successor, Lord Ripon, repealed the Vernacular Press Act. Source: Dictionary of National Biography [hereafter DNB] Supplement, Vol. 1, edited by Sir Sidney Lee (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1958), 46-47.

[10] Minute by the Viceroy, 22 October 1877, in Correspondence. 44   Lytton was not alone in his appraisal of the Irish Press Act.  J.H. Morris, Esq., Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces, also considered the provisions of the Irish law “very applicable to the circumstances of this country.”  Correspondence, 57, 62. Moreover, several members of the Legislative Council were quick to applaud the adaptation of the Irish measure, believing its amalgamation with the Dramatic Performance Act offered a solid legislative foundation.

[11] Sir Thomas Erskine Perry (Council of India member 1859-1881) reminded his compatriots that the Irish law “was a temporary measure, passed to meet a temporary evil, and dropped by the present Government in 1874.”  See Opinions, p. 2   In his remarks to Parliament, William Gladstone also expressed his dismay at the Irish Press Law’s use as a precedent, stating, “I am sorry to find in these papers references to the Irish Press as a sanction and an example to guide Indian legislation  . . .  It was an Act essentially temporary, which was passed for the Irish press; it was never intended to bring about a permanent change in the status of the Irish Press; and, in the next place, and what is more important and vital in this case, we did not restrain the Irish Press for mere disaffection, but for the security of human life.” Hansard Parliamentary Debates, 3rd series, (1878) vol. ccxlii, col. 56. 

[12] This distinction proved repellent not only to editors of native papers in India, but also to William Gladstone, who asked in amazement, “Do you wish it to be understood that the Vernacular Press is addressed to a public which is not intelligent; that those who read the English tongue are safe and to be trusted, while those who only read the Native tongue are not?” Parliamentary Debates, vol. ccxlii, col. 54.

[13] Parliamentary Debates, vol. cc, col. 361.

[14] Induprakásh, 4 June 1877, cited in John Dacosta, Remarks on the Vernacular Press Law of India, or Act IX. of 1878 (London: W.H. Allen and Co., 1878), 7-8. 

[15] For a discussion of the Government’s 1891 prosecution of the Bangabasi, see Marc Jason’s Gilbert’s dissertation, Lord Lansdowne in India: At the Climax of an Empire, 1888-1894, A Study in Late Nineteenth Century British Indian Policy and Proconsular Power (Los Angeles: University of California, 1978), 359-62.    

[16] Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) arrived in England to begin studies in 1878; Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) arrived as a student in 1879; Mohandas K. Gandhi  was a law student in England in 1888; Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), the first Governor-General of Pakistan, arrived in 1892 and joined the Lincoln’s Inn in 1893; the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, enrolled at Harrow in 1905; and Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945), the founder of the Indian National Army, studied for the Indian Civil Service exam in England in 1920.

[17] Correspondence, 14.

[18] Parliamentary Debates, vol. cc, col. 100. 

[19] Correspondence, 13

[20] Speaking on the floor of Parliament, William E. Gladstone disparaged Lord Salisbury’s sanction of such a  “sudden and secret proceeding,” and noted that the entire matter resembled “a stroke of lightning, such is the velocity of the Act.” Parliamentary Debates, vol. ccxlii, col. 50.

[21] Sir Erskine Perry, Opinions and Reasons, 3. Perry’s impassioned dissent would not have been surprising to those who followed his career prior to his appointment to the Council of India.  The former Chief Justice in Bombay was an outspoken advocate of native rights, using the pseudonym “Hadji” to pen letters to the Times that called for the abolition of the East India Company.  Arguing for more “congenial” relations with Britain’s Indian subjects, Perry insisted that natives should be admitted to official posts.  DNB, Vol. XV, 924-926.

[22] Deeply concerned about of the consequences of the Act’s passage, Sir Erskine warned, “We are governing the most conservative people in the world, and we are continually irritating them with sudden changes.”  Opinions and Reasons, 6.

[23] Parliamentary Debates, vol. ccxlii, col. 57.  The “Native” to whom Gladstone referred was Mahárája Jotindra Mohan Tagore.   Tagore’s presence on the Legislative Council is of interest, as at the time of the passage of the Vernacular Press Act, only the Legislative Council permitted native membership.  (The Council of India would not welcome Indian representatives until 1907). However, Tagore’s status as a Mahárája indicates that he was hardly representative of the Indian public at large.  Far from worrying that Tagore would mount a challenge to the British Raj, the other members of the council could safely expect his compliance.  Thus, Gladstone’s characterization of Tagore as one who “expressly and carefully reserved his judgment” was an apt description.  

[24] Opinions and Reasons, 10.

[25] Guzerat Mitra, 24 March 1878, from Weekly Report on Native Newspapers (Bombay) [hereafter referred to as Weekly Report], L\R\5\133, OIOC, British Library.  Beginning in 1874, the Government of India employed native speakers to translate and compile weekly reports on the native newspapers.  While these reports are a valuable resource to the researcher, their fidelity to the original source cannot be vouched for.

[26] Among the Irish newspapers that were suppressed by the British Government were The Nation (1848), the Irish Felon, the Irish Tribune, the Irish People (1901), William O’Brien’s United Ireland (1881, 1890-91) and Arthur Griffith’s United Irishman (1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906).  Source: Stephen J. Brown, The Press in Ireland: A Survey and a Guide (Dublin: Browne and Nolan Limited, 1937), 30, 38, 41.

[27] Mahráita, Poona, 21 January 1906 and Vihári, Bombay, 5 November 1906.  From Weekly Report, L\R\5\161. Author Richard Davis suggests that the sheer numbers of articles translated by British Intelligence is a potent indicator of “the seriousness with which the British authorities regarded Irish-Indian relations in this period.” Source:  “The Evidence of the Indian Press,” 55.   

[28] A parliamentarian renowned in Westminster for his obstructionist tactics, Charles Stewart Parnell played a critical role in the Irish Land Wars of the nineteenth century, initiating a stratagem that Gandhi and the Indian Nationalists would later adopt as a cornerstone of their own campaign.  Parnell’s method of choice was the boycott, the eponymous campaign directed at Captain Charles Boycott, English estate agent for the absentee landowner, the Earl of Erne, in County Mayo.  Under pressure from Parnell and his constituents for a pattern of high rents and evictions, Captain Boycott found himself unable to hire workers for his Irish farm or find an Irish market for his produce.  Not only did boycott become a staple of Indian protest, but the appeal by Parnell to British conscience bears a striking resemblance to the moral rectitude upon which Gandhi came to depend in his subsequent dealings with the British government.

[29] Dubbed the “Father of Indian Unrest,” B. G. Tilak had little faith that the patient, constitutional methods of the “Moderates” in the Indian National Congress would ever secure independence from Britain.  Following the Partition of Bengal in 1905, he helped found the Extremist wing of the Congress.

[30] United Ireland, 13 August 1881.

[31] United Ireland, 20 August 1881. 

[32] Dublin Castle was the headquarters of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and housed the offices of myriad departments and administrators of the British Government.

[33] United Ireland, 29 October 1881.

[34] The Plan of Campaign was a movement that urged Irish tenant farmers to withhold payments from their landlords.  Co-authored by O’Brien and John Dillon in 1886, the Plan first appeared on the front page of United Ireland on 23 October 1886 under the heading “A Memo for the Country.” The Plan made a subsequent appearance—in its entirety—in the transcript of the government’s trial against O’Brien for conspiracy, for which he served six months in prison.  For a full transcript of the trial, see Plan of Campaign: County Dublin February Commission, the Queen v John Dillon , M.P., William O’Brien, William K. Redmond, Daniel Crilly, M.P., David Sheehy, M.P.  Report of the Proceedings.  National Library of Ireland.

[35] Sri Aurobindo Ghose, quoted in Prof. Haridas Mukherjee and Prof. Uma Mukherjee, Sri Aurobindo’s Political Thought 1893-1908 (Calcutta: Firma K.L. Mukopadhyay, 1958), 46.

[36] B.G. Tilak to Dadabhai Naoroji, 6 December 1904, in Letters of Lokamanya Tilak, ed. M.D. Vidwans. (Poona: Kesari Prakashan, 1966), 253.

[37] Mahrátta, 17 April 1881, from Weekly Report, L\R\5\136, OIOC, British Library.

[38] Mahrátta, 2 June 1901, from Weekly Report, L\R\5\156, OIOC, British Library.

[39] In the pantheon of Hindu gods, Ganesha –son of Shiva and Parvati—is revered as the bestower of joy and success, wisdom and wealth.  Also known as Ganapati, the elephant-headed Ganesha is worshipped in homes, temples, and at the festivals popularized by Tilak.  Shivaji (1627-1680) is renowned as the great Maratha king who challenged the Moghul Empire and founded the Maratha kingdom.

[40] High Court of Judicature at Bombay.  Fourth Criminal Sessions.  Imperatrix versus Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Keshaw Mahadev Bal, L\PJ\6\462, File 2291, OIOC, British Library.  Section 124-A of the Penal Code dealt specifically with sedition and read: “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.” Cited in the Indian Penal Code; available at http://www.indialawinfo.com/bareacts/ipc.html#_Toc496764830; Internet; accessed on 22 January 2005.

[41] The famine of 1896 and the outbreak of bubonic plague in 1897 devastated the Indian population, taking the lives of countless millions.  Government handling of the two catastrophes proved controversial, prompting Tilak to write, “I am convinced that I am within the limits of the law in criticizing the Government’s measures, however strong may be the language I use.”   Cited in D.V. Tahmankar, Lokamanya Tilak: Father of Unrest and Maker of Modern India (London: John Murray, 1956), 78.  Current countrywide estimates suggest that between the years 1896 and 1903 famine and disease in India claimed the lives of anywhere from six to nineteen million people.  Source: BBC History; available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/state/nations/famine_07.shtml; Internet; accessed on 18 January 2005.

[42] Kesari, 15 June 1897, cited in Richard I. Cashman, The Myth of the Lokamanya: Tilak and Mass Politics in Maharashtra. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), 114.

[43] Indeed, evidence has come to light that Tilak not only was aware of the identity of the true assassin—Damodar Chapekar—but he also received a personal message from him the next day that read: “By the grace of God Ganapati, the mission has succeeded.”  Cited in Stanley A. Wolpert, Tilak and Gokhale: Revolution and Reform in the Making of Modern India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), 91.

[44] Wolpert, 99.

[45] High Court of Judicature at Bombay.  Fourth Criminal Sessions.  Imperatrix versus Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Keshaw Mahadev Bal, L\PJ\6\462, File 2291, OIOC, British Library.

[46] Telegram from Governor of Bombay, 4 September 1897, L\PJ\.6\456, File 1866, OIOC, British Library. In 1908, Tilak was once again arrested and tried for sedition.  Though vigorously defended by a team that included Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who would become the first Governor-General of Pakistan, Tilak was convicted and sentenced to six years hard labor.  A prolific writer, Tilak made his influence felt from within the prison walls.

[47] Pratod, 28 January 1901, from Weekly Report, L\R\5\157, OIOC, British Library.  The conviction that race played a part in the Empire’s treatment of its subjects would remain lodged in the Indian psyche, seemingly borne out by the actions of the British.   After the 1916 Easter Rebellion in Ireland, Indian journalists were quick to point out that Indian nationalists remained in jail, while their rebellious Irish counterparts were often released.  The news that Sir Edward Carson, the Irish Unionist leader, had remained a free man after publicly vowing to resist an Irish Home Rule Act—an action that would have earned transportation for a similar offense by an Indian—the comment in the Indian press that “Evidently a different code of law and morality is observed in India from that in England.” Mahrátta, Poona, 27 July 1919.  Cited in Richard Davis, “The Influence of the Irish Revolution on Indian Nationalism: The Evidence of the Indian Press, 1916-22 in South Asia, Vol. 9, No. 2 (1986), 52.

[48] Shri Sayiji Vijay, 25 January 1902, from Weekly Report, L\R\5\157, OIOC, British Library.

[49] Mahrátta, 7 May 1882, from Weekly Report, L\R\5\137, OIOC, British Library. 

[50] Mahrátta, 30 October 1881, from Weekly Report, L\R\5\136, OIOC, British Library.

[51] Arthur Griffith, in a circular on United Irishman, 28 July 1903.  National Library of Ireland.  William O’Brien papers MS 13975.  Note: the circular prompted William O’Brien to purchase two shares of United Irishman stock.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Government figures for October 1904.  Cited in the Report on Native Papers for the week ending 31 December 1904.

[54] Selected Documents of Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Ravindra Kumar, ed. (New Delhi: Anmol Publications, 1992), Volume 1, Document 35: Telegram from H.A. Stuart, the Government of Bombay, 4 July 1908, p. 90. 

[55] Letter from the Government of Bengal, Sir John Edgar to the Government of India, Home Department, Calcutta, 20 April 1891, IOR\L\PJ\6\303, No. 1726-J, OIOC, British Library. 

[56] The populous province of Bengal was partitioned by Viceroy Curzon in 1905, to the dismay of the Indian National Congress and India, at large.  Fueling anger at the partition was the manner in which the British divided the province, effectively creating an East Bengal with a Muslim majority and a West Bengal whose Bengali speakers lost their voice to a non-Bengali speaking majority.  The Partition of Bengal ignited a storm of protest, creating a willing audience for the fiery rhetoric of nationalist leaders.

[57] Mahrátta, 30 July 1905, from Weekly Report, L\R\5\160, OIOC, British Library.

[58] Kesari, 22 August 1905, from Ibid.

[59] Mahrátta, 20 August 1905, from Ibid.

[60] Mahrátta, 27 August 1905, from Ibid.

[61] Kesari, 5 September 1905, from Ibid.

[62] Vehári, 19 March 1906, from Weekly Report, L\R\5\161, OIOC, British Library.

[63] United Irishman, 16 September 1905.

[64] United Irishman, 9 September 1905.

[65] Richard P. Davis, Arthur Griffith and Non-Violent Sinn Féin (Dublin: Anvil Books, 1974),


[66] Cuchulainn, the “Hound of Ulster,” was a mythical Irish figure whose heroic exploits were popularized by the seventh century bard Sechan Torpeist.  A member of the Red Branch warriors, Cuchulainn was celebrated for his leadership and ferocity in battle, making him an obvious choice for those seeking a symbol of a glorious Irish heritage.    

[67] Kesari, 13 February 1906, from Weekly Report, L\R\5\161, OIOC, British Library.

[68] In his memoir, The Indian Struggle (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1964), Subhas Chandra Bose recalled that Sri Aurobindo Gosh, “had compared this policy with the policy of the Sinn Féin Party.”

[69] Jawaharlal Nehru, Nehru: The First Sixty Years, Two volumes, edited by Dorothy Norman (New York: The John Day Company, 1965), 12.

[70] Kál, 15 June 1906, from Weekly Report, L\R\5\161, OIOC, British Library.

[71] Vehári, 5 November 1906, from Ibid.  

[72] Nor was Tilak unsympathetic to the bombers responsible for the 1908 bombing death of the wife and daughter of Pringle Kennedy, choosing to blame British repressive policies for the advent of violence among the population.  Arrested, tried, and convicted on charges of sedition relating to the bombings, Tilak was sentenced to six years in prison.