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India@75: Benjamin Guy Horniman, the British journalist who fought for Indians

Benjamin Guy Horniman, the legendary British journalist, proved that nationalism is not bound within the narrow confines of a country or a religion

Jun 17, 2022, 5:42 PM IST

There are many Europeans, including the British, who supported and suffered for India's independence. These people proved that nationalism is not bound within the narrow confines of a country or a religion. Prominent among them is Benjamin Guy Horniman, the legendary journalist.

Born in 1873 at Sussex in Britain, Horniman came to India to join the paper The Statesman at Calcutta. His illustrious innings as a nationalist began after he took over as the editor of the Bombay Chronicle founded by Congress leader Phiroze Shah Mehta. 

Horniman made the Bombay Chronicle the powerful mouthpiece of the Indian national movement. Horniman became the vice p[resisdent of the Home Rule Society under Anne Beant. Gandhi appointed him the vice president of the Satyagraha Sabha against the Rowlett Act.  

It was Horniman and his reporter Govardhan Das who brought the brutal massacre at Jallianwala Bagh to the world's attention. Defying the ban imposed by the British authorities, Horniman smuggled out shocking photographs and reports of the British brutality at Jallianwala Bagh to London. They shocked the British public's conscience. 

But Govardhan Das was arrested and Horniman deported to London. Bombay Chronicle was shut down. Gandhi called for a nationwide protest against Horniman's deportation. But Horniman continued the campaign for the Indian cause in Britain too. He exposed the Hunter Commission which exonerated Col Reginald Dyer from the brutalities of Jallianwalla Bagh.  

Horniman returned to India in 1926 and took over the Bombay Chronicle again and continued his nationalist journalism. He later started his own newspapers like The Indian national Herald and Sentinel which too provided support to Indian freedom.

Horniman founded India’s first working journalists union, the Indian Press Association and fought against the British attempts to curb the freedom of the press. Great journalists like Pothen Joseph were mentored by Horniman. Horniman passed away in 1948.

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