Shivaji Raje

History Events,Destinations

5th MAY 1911 – 23rd SEPTEMBER 1932 PREETILATA WADDEDAR

Pritilata Waddedar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pritilata Waddedar
Original Archived photo of Pritilata Waddedar.jpg
Native name প্রীতিলতা ওয়াদ্দেদার
Born 5 May 1911
Dhalghat, Chittagong, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now in Bangladesh)
Died 23 September 1932 (aged 21)
Chittagong, Bengal Presidency,British India
(now in Bangladesh)
Cause of death Suicide by consumingpotassium cyanide
Other names Rani (nickname)
Ethnicity Bengali
Alma mater Bethune College
Occupation School teacher
Known for Pahartali European Club attack (1932)
Relatives Madhusduan (brother)
Kanaklata (sister)
Shantilata (sister)
Ashalata (sister)
Santosh (brother)

Pritilata Waddedar (5 May 1911 – 23 September 1932)[1] was a Bengali revolutionary nationalist.[2][3] After completing her education in Chittagong, she attended Bethune College in Kolkata. Pritilata graduated in Philosophy with distinction.

After a brief stint as a school teacher, Pritilata joined a revolutionary group headed by Surya Sen. She led a 15-man team of revolutionaries[4] in a 1932 attack on the Pahartali European Club,[5][6] which had a sign board that read “Dogs and Indians not allowed”.[2] The revolutionaries torched the club and were later caught by the British police. To avoid getting arrested, Pritilata consumed cyanide and died.[7]

Early life[edit]

Matriculation examination certificate of Pritilata

Pritilata was born in a middle-class Vaidya-Brahmin family on 5 May 1911[8] in Dhalghat village in Patiya upazila of Chittagong (now in Bangladesh).[9] Her father Jagabandhu Waddedar was a clerk in the Chittagong Municipality.[2] Her mother Pratibhamayi Devi was a housewife.[10] The couple had six children– Madhusduan, Pritilata, Kanaklata, Shantilata, Ashalata and Santosh. Pritilata was nicknamed Rani.[10] Waddedar was a title conferred to an ancestor of the family who originally had the surname Dasgupta.

Jagabandhu tried to arrange best possible education for their children.[11] He got Pritilata admitted in Dr. Khastagir Government Girls’ School of Chittagong. Pritilata was a meritorious student.[12] A teacher in the school, whom students affectionately used called Usha Di, used stories of Rani Lakshmibai to inspire nationalism in her students. Kalpana Datta, a classmate of Pritilata, writes in the biography Chittagong Armoury Raiders– “We had no clear idea in our school days about our future. Then the Rani of Jhansi fired our imagination with her example. Sometimes we used to think of ourselves as fearless…”.[13] Arts and literature were Pritilata’s favourite subjects.[14] She passed out of Dr. Khastagir Government Girls’ School in 1928 and in 1929, got admitted to the Eden College, Dhaka. In the Intermediate examinations, she stood first among all students who appeared in that year’s examination from the Dhaka Board.[2][11] As a student in Eden College, she participated in various social activities. She joined the group Sree Sangha, headed by Leela Nag, under the banner Dipali Sangha.[15]

In Calcutta[edit]

To pursue higher education, Pritilata went to Calcutta (now Kolkata) and got admitted to the Bethune College. Two years later, she graduated in Philosophy from the college with a distinction.[16] However, her degree was withheld by British authorities at Calcutta University. In 2012, she (and Bina Das) were conferred their certificates of merit posthumously.[3]

As a school teacher[edit]

After completing her education in Calcutta, Pritilata returned to Chittagong. In Chittagong, she took up the job of a school teacher at a local English medium secondary school called Nandankanan Aparnacharan School. She was appointed as the first Headmistress of the school.[2][11][17]

Revolutionary activities[edit]

Joining Surya Sen’s revolutionary group[edit]

“Pritilata was young and courageous. She would work with a lot of zeal and was determined to drive the British away.”

Binod Bihari Chowdhury, a contemporary revolutionary[18]

Pritilata decided to join the Indian independence movement. Surya Sen had heard about her and wanted her to join their revolutionary group.[18] On 13 June 1932, Pritilata met Surya Sen and Nirmal Sen in their Dhalghat camp.[10] A contemporary revolutionary, Binod Bihari Chowdhury, objected that they did not allow women to join their group. However, Pritalata was allowed to join the group because the revolutionaries reasoned that women transporting weapons would not attract as much suspicion as men.[18]

Inspiration from Ramkrishna Biswas[edit]

Surya Sen and his revolutionary group decided to kill Mr. Craig, Inspector General of Chittagong. Ramakrishna Biswas and Kalipada Chakravarty were assigned for this task. But they mistakenly killed SP of Chandpur and Traini Mukherjee instead of Craig. Ramakrishna Biswas and Kalipada Chakravarty were arrested on 2 December 1931.[19] After the trial Biswas was ordered to be hanged till death and Chakravarty to be exiled to Cellular Jail.[20]

The family and friends lacked the amount of money required to travel to Chittagong to Alipore Jail of Calcutta. Since at that time Pritilata was staying in Kolkata, she was asked to go to Alipore Jail and meet Ramkrishna Biswas.[20]

Activities in Surya Sen’s group[edit]

Along with the revolutionary group of Surya Sen, Pritilata took part in many raids like attacks on the Telephone & Telegraph offices[8] and the capture of the reserve police line. In the Jalalabad battle, she took the responsibility to supply explosives to the revolutionaries.[2]

Pahartali European Club attack (1932)[edit]

The Pahartali European Club (shown here in 2010) was torched by the group of revolutionaries

In 1932, Surya Sen planned to attack the Pahartali European Club which had a signboard that read “Dogs and Indians not allowed”.[21] Surya Sen decided to appoint a woman leader for this mission. Kalpana Datta was arrested seven days before the event. Because of this, Pritilata was assigned the leadership of the attack. Pritilata went to Kotowali Sea Side for arms training and made the plan of their attack there.[11]

They decided to attack the club on 23 September 1932. The members of the group were given potassium cyanide and were told to swallow it if they were caught.[2]

On the day of the attack, Pritilata dressed herself as a Punjabi male. Her associates Kalishankar Dey, Bireshwar Roy, Prafulla Das, Shanti Chakraborty wore dhoti and shirt. Mahendra Chowdhury, Sushil Dey and Panna Sen wore lungi and shirt.[20]

They reached the club at around 10:45 PM and launched their attack. There were around 40 people inside the club then. The revolutionaries divided themselves into three separate groups for the attack. In the club, a few police officers who had revolvers started shooting. Pritilata incurred a single bullet wound. According to the police report, in this attack, one woman with a surname of Sullivan died and four men and seven women were injured.[20]

Death[edit]

In this place Pritilata committed suicide. Now there is a plaque in her memory

An injured Pritilata was trapped by the British police.[2] She swallowed cyanide to avoid getting arrested.[18] The next day, the police found her body and identified her. On searching her dead body, the police found a few leaflets, photograph of Ramkrishna Biswas, bullets, whistle and the draft of their plan of attack. During the post-mortem it was found that the bullet injury was not very serious and that cyanide poisoning was the cause of her death.[20]

The chief secretary of Bengal sent a report to British authorities in London. In the report it was written–[22]

Pritilata had been closely associated with, if not actually the mistress of, the terrorist Biswas who was hanged for the murder of Inspector Tarini Mukherjee, and some reports indicate that she was the wife of Nirmal Sen who was killed while attempting to evade arrest of Dhalghat, where Captain Cameron fell.

.

Influence[edit]

A bust of Pritilata Waddedar at Pritilata Waddedar primary school, Chittagong

Bangladeshi writer Selina Hossain calls Pritilata an ideal for every woman.[23] A trust named Birkannya Pritilata Trust (Brave lady Pritilata Trust) has been founded in her memory. Pritilata’s birthday is celebrated by the trust in different places of Bangladesh and India every year. The trust considers her to be “a beacon of light for women”.[24] The last end of Sahid Abdus Sabur Road to Mukunda Ram Hat of Boalkhali upazila in Chittagong has been named as Pritilata Waddedar Road.[25] In 2012, a bronze sculpture of Pritilata Waddedar was erected in front of the Pahartali Railway School, adjacent to the historical European Club.[26][27]

In popular media[edit]

See also[edit]

Pritilata Waddedar &Surya Sen

Pritilata Waddedar (Bangla: প্রীতিলতা ওয়াদ্দেদার) (5 May 1911 – 23 September 1932)
was an anti-British pro-India revolutionary in East Bengal, (then part of Province of Bengal in pre-independence India), now in Bangladesh.
Born in Chittagong on 5 May 1911, she was a meritorious student at the Dr. Khastagir Government Girls’ School of Chittagong and passed the matriculation examination in the first division in 1928. She continued her education in Eden College, Dhaka and in 1929, she passed the Intermediate examinations securing the fifth place among all the candidates from Dhaka Board. Two years later, Pritilata graduated in Philosophy with distinction from Bethune College of Kolkata. In her college days, Pritilata was used to visit Ramkrishna Biswas, a rebel who later was hanged. Pritilata received combat training from Nirmal Sen. He died on 10/11 June 1932.
In early 1930s, Pritilata joined Mastarda Surya Sen’s armed resistance movement. In 1932, Surya Sen planned an attack on the Pahartali European Club, which bore the notorious sign ‘Dogs and Indians not allowed’. He assigned Pritilata to lead a team of 10-12 men that would attack the Club on September 23, 1932. Members of the team were instructed to carry potassium cyanide with them so that in case they were caught by police they could swallow it before the arrest. Kalpana Dutt, a fellow revolutionary of Pritilata said, “Surya Sen told us he does not support suiciding. But he took Potassium Cyanide from me before he went”. The raid was successful but Pritilata, dressed as a man was trapped without a way of escape on that fateful night. She committed suicide by swallowing the cyanide, thus ending her short endeavor in fighting for freedom of her country.
Other activities
Pritilata was vocal against gender discrimination. She wrote a letter a day before she died in which she questioned her countrymen for it. Pritilata was the headmistress of “Nandankanon School” in Chittagong.
 
Surya Sen (Bangla: সূর্য সেন pronounced Surjo Sen)(1894- January 12, 1934) (also known as Masterda Surya Sen) (Bangla: মাস্টারদা সূর্য সেন) was a prominent Bengali Indian freedom fighter and was the chief architect of anti-British freedom movement in Chittagong, Bengal (now in Bangladesh).
 
His father’s name was Ramaniranjan. A resident of Noapara in Chittagong, he was a teacher by profession. He was initiated into revolutionary ideas in 1916 by one of his teachers while he was a student of Intermediate Class in the Chittagong College and joined the renowned anarchist group Anushilan. But when he went to Behrampur College for BA course, came to know about Jugantar and became more inspired with their ideas. On his return to Chittagong in 1918, he organized Jugantar there. Every revolutionary groups were using Indian National Congress as umbrella to work. Consequently in 1929, Surya Sen became the president of the Chittagong district committee of the Indian National Congress. He continued to organize the hardline patriotic organisations and first became a teacher of the National school in Nandankanan and then joined the Umatara school at Chandanpura. Hence, he was known as Mastarda (teacher brother).
 
By 1923 Surya Sen spread the anarchist organization in different parts of Chittagong district. Aware of the limited equipment and other resources of the freedom fighters, he was convinced of the need for secret guerrilla warfare against the colonial Government. One of his early successful undertakings was a broad day robbery at the treasury office of the Assam-Bengal Railway at Chittagong on December 23, 1923.
 
Chittagong armoury raid and its aftermath
Main article: Chittagong Armoury Raid
 
His major success in the anti-British revolutionary violence was the Chittagong Armoury Raid on April 18, 1930. Subsequent to the raid, he marched to the Jalalabad hills along with his fellow revolutionaries. After the battle with the British troops on April 22, he escaped from there.
 
Surya Sen, being constantly followed up by the police, had to hide at the house of Sabitri Devi, a widow, near Patiya. A police and military force under Captain Cameron surrounded the house on 13 June 1932. Cameron was shot dead while ascending the staircase and Surya Sen along with Pritilata Waddedar and Kalpana Dutta escaped to safety.
 
Surya Sen was always in hiding, moving from one place to another. Sometimes he used to take a job as a workman; sometimes he would take a job as a farmer, or milkman, or priest, houseworker or even as a pious Muslim. This is how he used to avoid being captured.
 
Either because of money, or out of jealousy, or because of both, Netra Sen told the British Government that Surya Sen was at his house. As a result, the police came and captured him on February 16, 1933. This is how India’s supreme hero was arrested. But before Netra Sen was able to get his 10,000-rupee reward he was killed by the revolutionaries .
 
This is how it happened. Netra Sen’s wife was all for Surya Sen, and she was horrified by her husband’s deed. She felt mortified by her husband’s betrayal of Surya Sen. She couldn’t believe her eyes; she couldn’t believe her ears.
 
One evening she was serving her husband food when a great admirer of Surya Sen came into the house. He was carrying a very big knife, which is called a dal. With one stroke of the dal he chopped off the head of Netra Sen in the presence of his wife. Then slowly and stealthily he went away.
 
When the police arrived to investigate, they asked Netra Sen’s wife if she had seen who the murderer was. She said, “I saw with my own eyes, but my heart will not permit me to tell you his name. I am sorry. I feel miserable that I was the wife of such a treacherous man, such an undivine man as Netra Sen. My husband betrayed the greatest hero of Chittagong. My husband betrayed a great son of Mother India. My husband cast a slur on the face of India. Therefore, I cannot tell the name of the person who took his life. He has definitely done the right thing. You can do anything with me. You can punish me, you can even kill me, but I shall never tell the name of the person who killed my husband. Our Master-da will be hanged, I know, but his name will forever be synonymous with India’s immortal freedom-cry. Everybody loves him. Everybody adores him. I, too, love him and adore him, for he is the brightest sun in the firmament of Chittagong. Surya means sun and he is truly our sun.”
 
Tarakeswar Dastidar, the new president of the Chittagong Branch Jugantar Party, made a preparation to rescue Surya Sen from the Chittagong Jail. But the plot was unearthed and consequently frustrated. Tarakeswar and Kalpana along with others were arrested. Special tribunals tried Surya Sen, Tarakeswar Dastidar, and Kalpana Datta in 1933.
 
Surya Sen along with his comrade Tarekeshwar Dastidar was hanged by the British rulers on January 12, 1934. Before the death sentence Surya Sen was brutally tortured. It was reported that the British executioners broke all his teeth with hammer and plucked all nails and broke all limbs and joints. He was dragged to the rope unconscious. After his death his death body wasn’t given any funeral. The prison authority, it was found later, put his dead body in a metallic cage and dumped into the bay of Bengal.
 
His last letter to his comrades, written on 11 January, will remain enshrined in history as the most eloquent testimony of the excellence of his manhood… “Death is knocking at my door. My mind is flying away towards infinity … this is the moment to myself to embrace death as the dearest of friends. In this happy, sacred and crucial moment, what am I leaving for you all? Only one thing, my dream, a golden dream, the dream of a Free India. Dear comrades, march ahead; never retrace your step. Days of servitude are receding. Freedom’s illuminating ray is visible over there. Arise and never give way to despair. Success is sure to come.”
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