India’s Lesser Known Heroes – Bina Das: The Agnikanya of Bengal

M Venkaiah Naidu

Bina Das - Agnikanya of West Bengal

Bina Das – Agnikanya of West Bengal

It was the annual convocation of the Calcutta University.

The hall was jam-packed with students who were happily waiting to receive their degrees.

Suddenly gunshots were heard…

One after another,

Five gunshots were fired… and the target was the then Governor of Bengal who was also the Chancellor of the University.

The person who was firing was a 21-year-old girl.

As I continue with my Facebook series on less known women freedom fighters of our country, let’s move to the land which gave our nation revolutionary freedom fighters such as Subhash Chandra Bose, Khudi Ram Bose, Surya Sen and many more. It is the land which gave us our National Anthem.

Today through my Facebook post, let us remember the very courageous and fearless freedom fighter from Bengal, Bina Das.

Bina Das was the daughter of well-known revolutionary Benimadhav Das and social worker, Sarala Das.

It is said that innumerable stories of the British atrocities she had heard since her childhood had fired her revolutionary zeal to evict the British from the motherland. She was a great admirer of Netaji Bose who was her father’s friend and would often visit their house.

Bina along with her sister Kalyani Das became members of Chhatri Sangha, a semi-revolutionary organisation for women in Kolkata. This became their platform to participate in several social welfare and awareness activities.

It is believed that when she was a school student, the British Viceroy’s wife was scheduled to visit her school. A day before the visit, school was conducting a rehearsal for her welcome. During the welcome, Bina Das was to carry baskets of flowers and scatter them at the feet of the Viceroy’s wife. The young girl revolted against the idea and walked out of the rehearsal.

With time, her determination to fight the British became stronger and she was waiting for an opportunity to execute her plan.

It was the 6th of February in the year 1932, students were filled with joy as they headed towards the hall to receive their degrees on the convocation day. While the rest of the students were excited, Bina Das had a different plan.

As Stanley Jackson, the Governor of Bengal started addressing the students, Bina pulled out her revolver and fired in the direction of the Governor. However, the bullets missed the target.

Bina was overpowered.

It is said that after her arrest, Bina was subjected to many grueling interrogations but never did she reveal the names of her co-revolutionaries.

Instead, she stood form before the tribunal of Calcutta High Court and spoke –

“I confess that I fired at the Governor on the last Convocation day at the Senate House. I hold myself entirely responsible for it. My object was to die and if I had to die, I wanted to do it nobly, fighting against this despotic system… I fired at the Governor impelled by my love for my country which is being repressed.”

Bina was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment at the young age of 21.

After completing her sentence, Bina walked out of prison in 1939. The years of imprisonment took a toll on her body, but not on her spirit. She again became active in her fight against the British. Bina was again arrested for her role in the Quit India Movement.

She was a fighter whose only aim was to free her country.

She was known for her fiery nature and was called as Agnikanya by the people. She kept fighting till the country attained Independence.

The brave women like Bina Das should be celebrated. They made huge sacrifices for the nation. Their life stories should be included in school textbooks so that the present and future generations fully understand the sacrifices made by many lesser-known freedom fighters.

(Written by M Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India in his Facebook Post)