India’s Lesser Known Heroes –  Pritilata Waddedar  

M Venkaiah Naidu

Pritilata Waddedar (Wiki)

Pritilata Waddedar
(Wiki)

It was a dark night…. the year was 1932… a young girl dressed as a Sikh man approached a club full of Europeans. The club was known for its racist and discriminatory practices towards Indians, which was reflected in the phrase on the signboard that read “Dogs and Indians not allowed”.

This reportedly infuriated the Indian revolutionaries, who decided to target it. The girl in Sikh man’s attire was 21-year-old Pritilata Waddedar. She was the leader of an attack squad that had come to raid the Pahartali European Club in Chittagong.

Today through this Facebook post, let us recall her sacrifice and inspiring story.

Born in a middle-class family in Chittagong, Pritilata Waddadar was given the best of education in those times by her parents, Pratibha and Jagabandhu Waddadar. Her academics took a back seat though she said to have excelled in her studies, earning laurels and scholarships. This is because of her passion to participate in the freedom movement.

During her student days, she was believed to have come in contact with some women who were spearheading the activities of semi-revolutionary groups. Leela Nag, was one such woman, a student at Dhaka University and an associate of Subhash Chandra Bose. She established Deepali Sangha, a revolutionary group that reportedly provided combat training to women. Later Pritilata became an active member of this organization.

When she moved to Bethune College in Calcutta for higher education, she was believed to have been inspired by the famous revolutionary leader Surya Sen who was popularly known as ‘Master Da’. She wanted to join the rebel group led by Master Da. Initially, Master Da hesitated to let her be a part of this group. On seeing her unwavering determination to free India from the British rule, he reportedly agreed.

In one of her early assignments, Pritilata was said to have been given the difficult task of collecting bomb casings from a secret factory in Calcutta. She then started organising women conferences which were attended by women from different secret societies of Bengal. She further started gathering information from the imprisoned revolutionaries, pretending to be their kin. She did every task with utmost dedication and precision.

In 1930, when Surya Sen planned his famed Chittagong armoury raid, young Pritilata actively participated in this daring mission along with her fellow revolutionaries. After this incident, the British came down on her group with full might. Many members were captured and arrested. Pritilata along with few others managed to escape.

In 1932, they decided to attack the Pahartali European Club in Chittagong. Pritilata formed a group of committed revolutionaries and gave arms training to them, starting preparations for the attack.

On the night of September 23, 1932, she boldly led an attack along with her fellow revolutionaries on the Club- a symbol of British supremacy. Fierce gun battle started… unfortunately Pritilata got shot in her leg and was soon surrounded by the Police force.

Realizing her imminent capture by the enemy, this brave daughter of Mother India committed her final act of valour– she took out a cyanide capsule from her pocket and consumed it, sacrificing her life for the motherland.

The fruits of freedom that we enjoy today are the result of selfless sacrifices made by many young women freedom fighters like Pritilata Waddedar to liberate their motherland from the British rule. We should reverentially pay respects to them by recollecting their inspirational stories time and again. Their sacrifices deserve a mention in the pages of our history textbooks.