India might be a diverse country in terms of the variety of cultures, languages and people that it houses, but whenever we reminiscence the struggle for freedom, all these barriers and divisions seem absolutely preposterous.
However, one of the amazing features of the Indian Independence Movement was that everyone participated in it to their own might—even women were a massive force behind the struggle (and that’s really something great in India, which is renowned to be a massive patriarchal country). And, since Bengal had an active participation in the struggle, let’s make an attempt to know a few women leaders from Bengal—
Kanaklata Barua was a freedom fighter from the then Bengal Presidency and one of the earliest female martyrs of India. According to the norms of the Quit India Movement, all the Government Houses, including the police stations, had to hoist the National Flag, and as an active member of the same, she, along with a bunch of other protestors, went ahead on this mission. However, the pro-British police force wouldn’t let her do this act and after a brawl, she was shot dead on spot by the policemen. And, all these happened at a tender age of 17; sadly, not much is known about her now.
Aruna Asaf Ali, born Aruna Ganguly, is a big and renowned name in Indian Independence Movement. After her marriage to Asaf Ali, she became an active member of Indian Congress and even participated in the Salt Satyagraha movements. Later, she became an active member of the Quit India Movement, and was often regarded as the “face” of the movement. For her notorious acts, she was send to Tihar Jail in 1932 where she started a hunger strike with the aim of synthesizing the indifferent treatment to the political prisoners. Although this aim was achieved, she was soon moved to Ambala where she had to go through a solitary confinement.
Often regarded as the Nightingale of India for her melodious voice and her poetry, Sarojini Naidu (née Sarojini Chattopadhyay) is also known far and wide for her contribution to the Indian Independence Movement. Although born to a wealthy and much educated family, she took to the struggle for Independence in 1905, while attempts were made to segregate Bengal, and it was with her sincere efforts that in 1917, the Women’s Indian Association was formed. In fact, she was also the first lady to preside over an annual session of the Indian National Congress (held at Kanpur). After playing a major role in all the movements associated with Independence, she went on to become the first Governor of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh post Independence.
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One of the activists and member of Chhatri Sangha of Bengal, Bina Das is known for her zesty nature and braveness. She was the person who tried to assassinate the Bengal Governor and a former England Cricket Captain, Stanley Jackson, in the University of Calcutta, at the Convocation Hall, in front of innumerable people! However, even after 5 consecutive shots at him, she failed to accomplish her task as a result of which she was subjected to 9 years of torturous imprisonment.
This Bengali freedom fighter was an activist of the revolutionary group captained by none other than Surya Sen, alias, Masterda. Her brave nature and eagerness made her the leader of the 15-member group which attacked Pahartali European Club which had a typical British sign board with the ccaption, “Dogs and Indians not allowed”. Although they succeeded in alighting the club, they were held captives; however, Pritilata didn’t surrender and had cyanide to end her life!
Affectionately known as the Gandhi Buri, she was an active participant in the Indian Independence Movement, even in her old age. Her participation came in post-1905 as she joined the Gandhi in her pursuit of Independence. From Non Co-operation Movement and Quit India Movement, she was a part in all forms of non violence movements and even took to rigorous jail without protesting. After becoming a member of the Indian congress, she even took to spinning her own Khadi — in the manner of Gandhiji. However, this non violent member too became a martyr when she was shot dead by the policemen in front of Tamluk Police Station.
Also Read: 7 Bengali Freedom Fighters Who Took The British Government To Task In India