Men are typically the first to spring to mind when discussing Indian freedom fighters, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, and many more. Though there were other women activists who battled for the nation’s independence and played an equally essential role as men, we only know a handful of them, such as Annie Besant, Rani Laxmibai, and Sarojini Naidu.
This essay briefly informs you about strong female freedom fighters of Bengal who contributed significantly to the Indian liberation movement.
- Female Freedom Fighters Of Bengal
- Unsung Women Freedom Fighters Of Bengal
- FAQs Related To Female Freedom Fighters Of Bengal
Female Freedom Fighters Of Bengal
Many have never heard of Bina Das, the famous freedom fighter of India. Born in Chittagong, East Bengal, the daughter of a school teacher, Bina Das later migrated to South Calcutta where she grew up. Her father taught at Ravenshaw College in Cuttack, where the revolutionary Subhas Chandra Bose was a student. This led to the woman’s involvement in the independence struggle.
As a young revolutionary, Bina Das took up arms against the British establishment. In a memoir, she describes her experience of shooting the British Governor of Bengal Stanley Jackson. She was arrested after attempting to kill him, but her bullets missed. Despite the incident, Bina Das would later become involved in the freedom struggle after her release from prison.
As a young woman, Bina Das was involved in the burgeoning freedom movement and was inspired by her Gandhian father. Ultimately, she was willing to risk her life for her country’s freedom. This is why she became so famous. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 1960 and died on 26 December 1986. She inspired millions of young women to take up a similar cause but died an unknown poverty-stricken life.
Kamla Das Gupta
It was her dedication to the cause of freedom that made her a celebrated freedom fighter of India. Born in Bikrampur, Dhaka, she was inspired by the nationalist ideas she encountered in her studies at Bethune College. She took up the cause of India’s independence and became an active member of the freedom struggle.
She took up the job of a hostel manager. Under the guise of the hostel, Kamla Das Gupta stored and supplied bombs and bomb-making material. She was arrested numerous times but was released on bail every time due to a lack of evidence. She is the one who supplied Bina Das with the revolver that she used to shoot at Governor Stanley Jackson. In 1936, she was held under house arrest. She formed an alliance with the Indian National Congress in 1938 from Jugantar Party. She eventually died at the age of 93.
Labanya Prabha Ghosh
Labanya Prabha Ghosh was a prominent freedom fighter of India. She spent her life fighting with nationalists for India’s freedom
Born in Purulia district, West Bengal, Ghosh was arrested and imprisoned several times during the Quit India Movement. Afterward, her revolutionary activities did not end with the independence of India. She became an active member of the Bhasha Andolan, which emerged after the Partition and the forceful imposition of Hindi on Bengali-speaking communities in Manbhum, which was cut off from Bengal.
She was homeschooled and taught by her father. In 1921, Labanya Prabha Ghosh’s father was imprisoned by the Purulia district government for participating in the Non-Cooperation Movement. After completing prison terms, Ghosh became a prominent member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. Her son, Arun Chandra Ghosh, was also a freedom fighter.
Later in her life, she lived in poverty and suffered from failing eyesight, speech problems, and economic hardships. Sadly, she passed away on April 11, 2003.
Kalpana Datta was born in Sripur in 1913. She graduated from matriculation in 1929. She enrolled in Bethune College in Kolkata and studied science. She then joined the Chhatri Sangha, which later became an important part of the Indian freedom movement. After graduating from Bethune, Datta married Puran Chand Joshi, the Communist party’s general secretary.
While growing up in a middle-class family, Kalpana Dutta was influenced by the example of Khudiram and the courage of Kanailal Dutt. During her six-year imprisonment, she was exposed to communism. She read Marx and Lenin and critically analyzed political positions. Her courage and perseverance won her recognition. Her memoir was published in 1945.
Datta went on to join the Communist Party of India and became a leader in the armed resistance movement. In 1946, she contested the Bengal Legislative Assembly elections. Her life story has inspired many women to follow the path she took to freedom. Datta died in 1995.
Suhasini Ganguly was born on 03 February 1909. She was the daughter of Abinashchandra and Sarala Sundara Devi. She spent her youth in Khulna and Dhaka. During her teenage years, she developed sympathies for the revolutionaries. During her early twenties, she began working as a teacher in Calcutta. In 1924, she fled to Calcutta.
She later joined the Chhatri Sangh. She was an associate of Bina Das. She was detained from 1932 to 1938. After her release, she joined the Communist Party. She was also arrested and detained between 1942 to 1945 for providing shelter to Hemanta Tarafdar. Due to her affiliations with communism, she remained in jail even after independence. She died following a road accident in 1965.
Matangini Hazra was an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1905, she became active in the Indian Independence Movement. She was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, who had been imprisoned for his agitation against British rule. She also took part in the Civil Disobedience movement, where she was arrested for breaking the Salt Act.
Her early life was a life of poverty. She was a child bride. She married a rich widower named Trilochon Hazra at the age of 12. Although she lost her husband at a young age, Matangini dedicated her life to serving others. During the Quit India Movement in August 1942, she was arrested for disobeying British salt laws.
After the death of her husband, Hazra began to work for social causes. In the early 1900s, the Nationalist movement began to gain momentum. Mahatma Gandhi traveled extensively throughout the subcontinent to spread awareness of the freedom movement. Hazra was a staunch follower of Gandhi, earning her the nickname “Gandhi Buri.”
After her release from prison, she tirelessly nursed people who had contracted smallpox. She was severely injured by a police baton charge while attending the sub-divisional conference of the Indian National Congress. Matangini Hazra, at 73 years of age, led a crowd of 6 thousand people to take over the Tamluk police station and was shot dead by the British Police.
It’s difficult to imagine Indian history without the presence of the late Sucheta Kripalani. Born in Ambala, she grew up in a Bengali Brahmo family. Although shy and reserved as a child, her steely will and exemplary leadership qualities were molded by her experiences growing up in patriotic India. Her autobiography, An Unfinished Autobiography, provides a detailed account of the defining moments in her life.
She studied at Punjab University and Indraprastha College and became a professor of Constitutional history at the Hindu University in Banaras. Her husband was the leader of the Indian National Congress.
After a brilliant educational career, Sucheta Kripalani married a leading member of the Indian National Congress. Although Mahatma Gandhi opposed their marriage, it was eventually accepted. Kripalani was active in the Quit India movement and during the Partition riots, she worked with Mahatma Gandhi. She served as the first head of the Women’s department of Congress. She later went on to establish the All India Mahila Congress and worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi.
Despite these challenges, Kripalani was one of the few women elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946. This assembly consisted of 299 members (389 at formation), and Kripalani was one of only 15 women. Other prominent women in the assembly included Sarojini Naidu, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, and Ammu Saminathan. She was also an MP for New Delhi and later became Minister of Labour, Community Development, and Industry in the state government of Uttar Pradesh.
She became the head of Uttar Pradesh from 1963 to 1967 and India’s first female Chief Minister.
Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain
Begum Rokeya Sakhawat was an outspoken supporter of women’s education. She helped start a high school for girls. She also wrote many novels and short stories. She was born on 9 December 1880 and died on 9 December 1932. 9th December is commemorated as “Begum Rokeya Day” in Bangladesh.
Born in Pairabondh, present-day Bangladesh, Rokeya’s family was progressive and educated. Khan Bahadur Syed Sakhawat Hossain encouraged Rokeya to study and publish her writings in Indian periodicals. Unfortunately, he developed acute diabetes and died. But even after her husband’s death, Rokeya’s work continued to impact society.
As an activist, Begum Rokeya worked to establish an Islamic women’s association to promote the rights of Muslim women in India. The association held many conferences and debates about the status of women and promoted reforms. She believed that the slow development of Muslims in British India was due to conservatism. She worked to correct this by organizing social reforms based on the teachings of Islam.
In addition to her social work and writing, Begum Rokeya was also a passionate Muslim feminist. She struggled with gender inequality and religious orthodoxy while living in an upper-class Bengali family. Her father was not willing to allow Rokeya to attend college and pursue her education. She did so on the sly and became a well-known writer of Bengali and English.
Pritilata Waddedar was a young woman who became a freedom fighter in India. She studied philosophy at Bethune college in Calcutta and met the revolutionary leader Surya Sen, who was affectionately called Master da. Waddedar joined Surya Sen’s underground group. At first, Sen’s group members objected to her membership but changed their minds after she demonstrated her commitment to the cause. Her dedication to the cause allowed her to carry out her assignments undetected.
She became a symbol of women revolutionaries and was honored with a posthumous graduation certificate in 2012. Her husband, Nirmal Sen, was killed in Dhalghat while evading arrest.
As a teenager, Pritilata was a bright student. Her father worked as a clerk in the municipal offices. Her father gave her an excellent education. He often told Pritilata that his hopes for her were entwined with hers. Pritilata was only 21 years old when she died. She was a young freedom fighter in the making and died a martyr.
In 1927, Vina Mazumdar was born in Kolkata, the youngest child of a Bengali family. Her father was an engineer, and her uncle was noted historian R.C. Majumdar. She attended St. John’s Diocesan Girls’ Higher Secondary School and later attended the Women’s College of the Banaras Hindu University and the Ashutosh College in Calcutta. During her time in college, she became active in women empowerment and organized a trip for girl students to meet Mahatma Gandhi.
She shepherded the landmark Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India. But her vision was inclusive, and she drew men as students, collaborators, and mentors. In a society that values equality, women are the most important part of any democracy, and Mazumdar believed this to be the most important part of human rights and social justice.
She was born into a Bengali-speaking family and attended prestigious colleges in Calcutta, Benares, and Oxford. She obtained her D.Phil. at Oxford University, and taught political science at Berhampur and Patna. She also became a member of the UGC Secretariat and a fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla. She later went on to be a noted journalist and professor.
In addition to her activism, Mazumdar was a pioneer of women’s studies in India. She was also one of the first women to combine academic scholarship with activism, leading to the formation of the Indian Association of Women’s Studies. In 1982, she became a founding member of the Indian Association of Women’s Studies, which now holds national conferences to promote Women’s Studies. She is a major contributor to India’s women’s history.
Nanibala Devi was a prominent freedom fighter from Bengal. She was born in the family of Surya Kanta Banerjee of Howrah. She became acquainted with freedom fighters when she was at the refuge with Amarendranath Chattopadhyay. She used to smuggle letters to imprisoned freedom fighters. She also rented accommodations for freedom fighters. She was very low-key but once her cover was blown and she was caught in Peshawar. She caught cholera there and was subjected to inhuman torture by the British police.
One of the most influential freedom fighters in India is Basanti Devi. Born in Calcutta on 23 March 1880, she was part of the Khilafat movement and Civil disobedience campaign. She was also a member of the Nari Karma Mandira. Her husband, Chittaranjan Das, died on 16 June 1925 and she later took over his weekly magazine, Bangalar Katha. She received the Padma Vibhushan award in 1973.
Following her husband’s death, she took part in many social movements. She attended the Nagpur session of the Indian National Congress. In 1925, she led a group of five women to sell khadi in the city. Basanti was warned by Subhash Chandra Bose not to sell khadi because it could lead to arrest. But this small group continued to grow and the movement gained momentum.
In 1921, she joined the Indian independence movement. She was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and took part in the Non-Cooperation Movement. She was arrested several times for her activism and remained active in social issues after independence.
Unsung Women Freedom Fighters Of Bengal
If we talk about women freedom fighters, we need to remember the pioneering role played by Bina Das. Born to a Brahmo social worker and a teacher, she made history when she shot the Bengal Governor, Stanley Jackson. After serving nine years in jail, Das was freed and joined the Congress Party. She was later jailed numerous times during the Quit India Movement. She later married Jatish Chandra Bhaumik, another woman revolutionary.
Kalyani Das was born in 1907 and was a member of the Chhatri Sangha, an organization of women in Kolkata. She was the sister of Bina Das, another woman who participated in the Independence Movement. She joined the Bengal Volunteer Corps during 1928-29. Kalyani Das became the Vice President of the All Bengal Students Association. On September 5, 1933, she was arrested for participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement. She was later transferred to the Hijli and Midnapore jails. She was released on unconditional parole in April 1938. She continued to participate in the Quit India Movement, organizing various protests and strikes.
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The sacrifices made by Indian women are of utmost importance. To gain our independence, they fought valiantly and bravely despite numerous exploitations, tortures, and difficulties.
FAQs Related To Female Freedom Fighters Of Bengal
Who Is Called The Fire Girl Of Bengal?
Bina Das was known as the Fire Girl of Bengal. At the age of around 21 years, Bina Das tried to assassinate Governor of Bengal Stanley Jackson.
Who Is Called Gandhi Buri?
Matangini Hazra was affectionately referred to as Gandhi Buri, which is Bangla meaning old lady Gandhi.