Jatindra Das was born in a Bengali family in 1904 at Calcutta. He had joined the Anushilan Samiti, a revolutionary outfit in Bengal, at a young age. He also participated in Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation movement in 1921.
In November 1925, while studying for a B.A. at Vidyasagar College in Calcutta, Jatindra Nath was arrested for his political activities and was imprisoned at the Mymensingh Central Jail. While being interned there, he went on a hunger strike to protest the ill-treatment meted out to the political prisoners. After fasting for twenty days, the Jail Superintendent apologised and he gave up the fast. He was contacted by revolutionaries in other parts of the country and agreed to participate in bomb-making for Bhagat Singh and comrades.
On 14 June 1929 he was arrested for revolutionary activities and was imprisoned in Lahore jail to be tried under the supplementary Lahore Conspiracy Case.
In the Lahore jail, Jatin Das started a hunger strike along with other revolutionary fighters, demanding equality for Bharatiya prisoners and under trials. The condition of Bharatiya inhabitants of the jails was deplorable. The uniforms that IBharatiya prisoners were required to wear in jail with were not washed for several days, and rats and cockroaches roamed the kitchen area making the food unsafe to eat. Bharatiya prisoners were not provided with any reading material such as newspapers, nor paper to write on. In contrast, the condition of the British prisoners in the same jail was strikingly different.
The memorable hunger strike started on 15 June 1929 and lasted 63 days.The jail authority took many measures to forcibly feed Jatin Das and the other freedom fighters, beat them and did not even provide them with drinking water. However, Jatindra did not eat. The jail committee recommended his unconditional release, but the government rejected the suggestion and offered to release him on bail. Meanwhile Bhagat singh continued his hunger strike for long, and when he suspended his hunger strike, it was 116th day since 15 June 1929.
Jatin died on September 13, 1929, after his unbroken hunger strike for 63 days. Durga Bhabhi led the funeral procession of Jatin Das from Lahore to Kolkata. As his body was carried from Lahore to Kolkata by train, thousands of people rushed to every station to pay their homage to the martyr. A two-mile long procession in Kolkata carried the coffin to the cremation ground. The hunger strike of Jatin Das in prison was one crucial moment in the resistance against illegal detentions. After his death, the Viceroy informed London.
Mr. Das of the Conspiracy Case, who was on hunger strike, died this afternoon at 1 p.m. Last night, five of the hunger strikers gave up their hunger strike. So there are only Bhagat Singh and Dutt who are on strike…
The highest tributes were paid by almost every leader in the country. Mohammad Alam and Gopi Chand Bhargava resigned from the Punjab Legislative Council in protest. Motilal Nehru proposed the adjournment of the Central Assembly as a censure against the inhumanity of the Lahore prisoners. The censure motion was carried by 55 votes against 47.
“Another name has been added to the long and splendid roll of Bharatiya martyrs. Let us bow our heads and pray for strength to act to carry on the struggle, however long it may be and whatever consequences, till the victory is ours “. This is what Jawahar Lal Nehru said while commenting on death of Jatin Das.
In the 2002 film The Legend of Bhagat Singh, the character of Jatin Das was played by Amitabh Bhattacharjee.