Mitra, Ila (1925-2002)
an important communist leader who organised resistance movement against
British rule in India at the grassroots level. She was born in Kolkata
on 18 October 1925. Her forefathers hailed from Bagotia, which is now
in the district of jhenaidah.
Her father, Nagendranath
Sarker, was the Accountant General of Bengal.
Ila Mitra began her political activities when she
was a student at Bethun College in Kolkata. She passed IA in 1942
and BA (Honours) in 1944 from the same college and much later, in
1957, she did her MA in Bangla Literature and Culture from Calcutta
University as a private student. She was a member of Calcutta Mohila
Atmarakkha Samiti (Association for women's self-defence) and
of the All India Communist Party.
In 1945, Ila Mitra got married to Ramendra Mitra, who
was a scion of a zamindar family of Chapai Nawabganj and an active member
of the Communist Party. She came to her husband's village home and became
a volunteer teacher at a girls' school established by Ramendra Mitra and
his friend, Altaf Mia. Very soon she became a leader of the local peasantry
in their movement for forcing the government to implement the floud
commission report. She played key role in organisation of the
and the santal
rebellion during the period between 1946 and 1950.
In 1946, Ila Mitra and other local Communist Party leaders
organised a mass movement to resist Hindu-Muslim communal violence. She
went to the riot-affected village of Hasnabad in Noakhali when Mahatma
Gandhi was in a visit there to put an end to the communal riot.
Following a clash between peasants and the policemen
at Nachole on 5 January 1950, about 2000 armed policemen were sent there
for preserving peace. But they set many villages on fire and killed many
villagers. They arrested Ila Mitra while she was trying to escape. She
was sent to the Rajshahi Central jail on 21 January 1950. Tried under
a treasonable charge, Ila Mitra was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Ila Mitra fell very sick in jail and in 1954, the united front government sent her in parole to Kolkata for treatment. To avoid arrest she did not come back home again. She continued to participate in political activities in Kolkata under the banner of the Communist Party of India. She was elected member of Bidhan
Shabha (Provincial Assembly) four times between 1962 and 1978. However, in India also she had been put to jail four times during 1962-1972. She played a significant role in mobilising public opinion in India for support to the war of liberation of Bangladesh.
Besides politics, Ila Mitra had literary interest, too. She was honoured with the 'Soviet Land Neheru' for literary translation work. The central government of India conferred upon her the award 'Tamra Patra' in recognition of her activities as a leader in the struggle against British Raj.
Ila Mitra died in Kolkata on 13 October 2002. [Mesba