Kiran Sankar Roy Road

Team Chronicle

Kiran Sankar Roy Road was formerly known as Hastings Street. It stretches from Council House Street in the east to Strand Road in the west. Hastings Street was named after Warren Hastings, who served as the first Governor-General of Fort William.

Warren Hastings resided at house number 7 on this very street, next door to the Government of India’s Publication Sales Counter. A tablet on the exterior of this building still reads: “This building was the town residence of Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of Fort William in Bengal from 1772 to 1785.” Hastings Street was known as Colvin ghat ka rasta (road to Colvin’s ghat) among the natives.

Well known Calcutta chronicler, Henry Evan Augusta Cotton in his book Calcutta Old and New states: “To the south of Council House Street runs Hastings Street. At number 7, in the house now occupied by Messrs. Burn and Co., lived the ‘beautiful Mrs. Imhoff’, who became the second wife of Warren Hastings.”

“For some three years after his marriage, Hastings appears to have lived in this house, and to have used the old Government House or Buckingham House as it was then called, only for official purposes. But the house has now been entirely modernised and it cannot be truthfully declared that its new dress of red brick recalls many memories of the past; although a few solitary relics of its old magnificence are preserved within in the shape of ancient punkah-frames gorgeously painted in crimson and gold,” Cotton observed.

Warren Hastings

Warren Hastings was born on December 6, 1732 in the little hamlet of Churchill in Oxfordshire. He joined the British East India Company in 1750 as a clerk and is credited with consolidating the British dominion in India founded by Robert Clive.

When Hastings landed at Calcutta in October 1750 the affairs of the East India Company were at low ebb. He was placed in charge of a factory in the interior and his duties included superintending the weaving of silk and cotton goods under a system of money advances. In 1753 he was transferred to Cossimbazar, the river-port of the native capital of Murshidabad. In 1758 he was made the British Resident (administrator in charge) of Murshidabad by Lord Clive.

In April 1772, Warren Hastings took over as the Governor-General of Fort William.  After the failure of Dual Government system of Clive, Hastings was required to reform the revenue collection system which was brought directly under the British. In his time the Treasury and Courts of Justice were transferred from Murshidabad to Calcutta. He got no support from the directors of the company and was handicapped by a council whose members were primarily hostile to him. Hastings is also blamed for the hanging of Nandakumar implicated in a forgery case.

Later Warren Hastings and Sir Elijah Impey, the then Chief Justice, were both impeached, and accused by Edmund Burke, (and later by Macaulay) of committing judicial murder but were later acquitted;  Charges of war crimes were also brought against Warren Hastings for his role in providing military assistance to the Nawab of Oudh during the Rohilla War. Warren Hastings was also involved in a historic duel with Sir Philip Francis at the Belvedere estate.

Kiran Sankar Roy

Kiran Sankar Roy was born on October 25, 1891. A distinguished citizen of Calcutta he was one of the most prominent figures of Bengal’s public life for more than two decades. At the time of his death he was the Home Minister of West Bengal in Bidhan Chandra Roy’s cabinet.

Hailing from the well known zamindar family of Teota in Manickgunge, Dhaka, Roy attended Hindu School and St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta. He took his Tripos from New College, Oxford and was called to the Bar from the Lincoln’s Inn in 1921. He was in the thick of the Non-Cooperation Movement with Netaji under the leadership of Deshabandhu Chittaranjan Das and joined the national college and university. He also took part in the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930.

Roy was elected to the Bengal Council in 1923. He returned to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1937 and acted as the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party during till 1947.

He regularly contributed articles to the Sabuj Patra, Prabasi and other journals.  Kiran Sankar Roy died in his residence at 8 Theatre Road on Sunday, February 21, 1949, at the age of 58.