During her address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day’2023, President Droupadi Murmu paid tributes to Matangini Hazra and Kanaklata Barua, women freedom fighters.
Who was Matangini Hazra?
- Hazra was 73 when she fell to British bullets, leading a march during the Quit India movement of 1942, in Tamluk in West Bengal.
- She was born in a village named Hogla, near Tamluk, in 1869.
- Not much information is publicly available about her early years, but according to research available in the West Bengal government archives, Matangini was the daughter of a poor farmer who could not afford to provide her a formal education.
- With no means to raise a decent dowry, she found herself married at 12 to Trilochan Hazra, a 60-year-old man from Alinan village in Medinipur.
- By age 18, Matangini Hazra was widowed, without any children.
- She began devoting herself to social causes.
- In the early 1900s, the Nationalist movement began gaining traction across the subcontinent and Gandhi travelled extensively across the length and breadth of the region, raising awareness about the freedom movement.
- At the age of 61, she was arrested for taking part in the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930 and the Salt March led by Gandhi.
- Her participation in the Civil Disobedience Movement led to several short stints in prison.
- It was during this time when she became an active member of the Indian National Congress and started spinning her own khadi in Gandhi’s footsteps.
- Her involvement with the freedom struggle intensified during the Quit India Movement launched by Gandhi in August 1942. In September that year, a 73-year-old Hazra led a large procession of around 6,000 protesters, mostly women.
- The procession marched with the aim to take over the Tamluk police station from British authorities.
- In 1977, the first statue in the Kolkata Maidan dedicated to a woman revolutionary was that of Matangini Hazra. Across Bengal, several schools, neighbourhoods and streets have been named after Hazra for her contributions to the freedom struggle, including the long stretch of Hazra Road in Kolkata.
Who was Kanaklata Barua?
- One of the youngest martyrs of the Quit India Movement, Kanaklata Barua has an iconic status in Assam.
- Barua, then 17, led the Mrityu Bahini, a procession of freedom fighters, to unfurl the Tricolour at Gohpur police station on September 20, 1942.
- When police did not let them move forward, an altercation led to firing, killing Barua at the head of the procession.
- She had joined the Mrityu Bahini just two days before the incident.
- In 2020, the Coast Guard named a Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV) after her, the ICGS Kanaklata Barua.
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