Waddedar, Pritilata (1911-1932) revolutionary nationalist. Pritilata was born to a family of modest means. Her father was a clerk in the Chittagong Municipality. She was a meritorious student at the Khastagir High School of Chittagong and passed the matriculation examination in the first division in 1927. She continued her education in eden college, Dhaka and in 1929, she passed the Intermediate examinations securing the first place among all the candidates from Dhaka Board. Two years later, Pritilata graduated in Philosophy with distinction from Bethune College of Kolkata.
Pritilata had participated in 'activities subversive
to the state' since the period of studies in Eden College, where she became
a member of Sree Sangha under the banner Dipali Sangha led
by Lila Nag. In Calcutta she was a member of the Chhatri Sangha
led by Kalayani Das. After graduation she returned to Chittagong and took
up the job of the headmistress of a local English medium secondary school
named Nandankanan Aparnacharan School.
In the 1930s, there were many revolutionary groups all over Bengal
and Chittagong was a fertile land for the revolutionary activities.
Members of these groups believed that India's freedom could be
achieved only through armed struggle. Pritilata believed that
the time had come for women to take a leading role in the armed
struggle against the British, sacrifice their lives if necessary,
and confront all risks, dangers and tribulations, on the same
footing as their male comrades. One of Priti's brothers was involved
in revolutionary politics.
He introduced her to the famous revolutionary activist
sen and although there was no provision for woman to join in
revolutionary politics, he accepted Pritilata as the first woman member
of his revolutionary group. She was involved in operations for destruction
of the Telephone & Telegraph office and the capture of the reserve police
line. She took part in the Jalalabad battle, in which her responsibility
was to supply explosives.
In one assignment in 1930, Pritilata was sent to Alipur
Central Jail of Calcutta to meet Ram Krishna, who was a political prisoner
sentenced to death and put behind the bars under strict observation in
complete seclusion. She could make it in time. Pritilata went to Dhalghat
to meet with Mastarda at his hideout on 13 June 1932. The venue was surrounded
by a police troop and there was a confrontation, in which some revolutionaries
lost their lives. Mastarda and Pritilata were able to escape. Pritilata
came back to her school. By that time her name was in the police list
of the most-wanteds. Mastarda instructed her to leave the school and go
underground just as the male revolutionaries of that time did. Pritilata
and along with her, another woman revolutionary, Kalpana Datta went underground.
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 that would attack the Club on 23
September 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. 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. She was only 21 at death.
Her martyrdom created a huge stir and acted as an inspiration for revolutionaries
in Bengal and India. [Sonia Amin]