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Pritilata Waddedar: A unique example of bravery, patriotism

Published : Sunday, 25 September, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 639
Emran Emon

Emran Emon

Emran Emon

Heroine Pritilata Waddedar was the first woman to sacrifice herself in the anti-British movement.  Yesterday (24th September) was the self-sacrifice day of Pritilata.  This year is Pritilita's 91st self-sacrifice day.  Pritilata was born on May 5, 1911 in Dhalghat village of Patia upazila of Chittagong district.

In 1918, Pritilat's institutional education began. Her education started at Dr Khastagir Govt Girls' High School in Chattogram.  Pritilata was very talented.  Her formal education started from class-3.  In 1926, she got scholarship in merit list. She passed Matriculation in 1927 with letter marks.  After that, she was admitted to Eden Women's College for higher secondary education.  Pritilata passed IA from Dhaka University in 1929 by securing fifth place in combined merit list and first place among girls.  She then enrolled in Bethune College, Calcutta as an undergraduate. She graduated in philosophy in 1932.  Returning to Chittagong in 1932, she joined Nandankanan Girls' High School (now known as Aparna Charan City Corporation Girls' High School) as headmistress.

Pritilata was the first woman revolutionary in the Swadeshi movement.  Master da Surya Sen was absconded when Pritilata wanted to join the revolutionary party.  She had a great desire to meet with Master da Surya Sen. With Pretilita's keen interest and after many attempts, she met Master Da Surya Sen in May 1932. Later, Master da Surya Sen, the commander-in-chief of the Swadeshi Movement, was pleased with Pretilita's sense of duty, bravery and firmness of character, and appointed her as the leader of the attack on the European Club at Pahartali.

The preparation of the team has been started.  In order to make the campaign successful, they are trained in weaponry.  Pritilata was the leader of this eight-member team.  The campaign was launched on 23 September, 1932 under the leadership of Pritilata.  This campaign of the revolutionaries of that day was successful.  As a rule, in military formation the leader will be the first to attack and the leader will be the last to return, allowing the comrades to move to safety on the way back.  Pritilata followed this rule properly. After the operation was successful, she signaled the members to go back by blowing a whistle. Pritilata was preparing to return later.  But at the last moment she was shot by an English soldier who was hiding.  Meanwhile all other members of the team managed to reach the safe place.

After ensuring the safety of all the team members, Pritilata chose to commit suicide by drinking the 'potassium cyanide' so that the English soldiers could not kill her alive. Pritilata proved that Master da Surya Sen's decision was absolutely correct, she was a worthy leader of this expedition.  British police were able to find Pritilata's body in the early hours of the following day on 24 September. They were puzzled to identify a woman as the attacker.

After 80 years, Calcutta University awarded posthumous degrees to two of its former students, anti-British leader Pritilata Waddedar and Bina Das.  According to university sources, the posthumous degree was awarded to honor the revolutionaries.  

Both Pritilata Waddedar and Bina Das were scheduled to receive their bachelor's degrees on February 6, 1932, at a convocation ceremony of Calcutta University.  But before that, Pritilata Waddedar looted the armory of Chittagong and joined the fight against the British soldiers and later remained in hiding for a long time by hiding in the eyes of the police.  As a result, due to their involvement in the anti-British movement, none of these two graduates didn't take their certificates that day.

Later, the then Governor and Chancellor of the University, Stanley Jackson, who appeared at the convocation ceremony on February 6, 1932, gave certificates to the students. Suddenly, a 20-21 year old young woman shot at Jackson.  This young lady was Bina Das.  She wanted to revenge the killing of revolutionaries in Chittagong. The then Prime Minister and Vice-Chancellor of Bengal, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, jumped down from the stage and grabbed the young girl. Se was still shooting. That young lady was revolutionary Bina Das.

Pritilata Waddedar: A unique example of bravery, patriotism

Pritilata Waddedar: A unique example of bravery, patriotism

According to a historical source, Bina Das, a revolutionary of the anti-British independence war, entered the convocation hall with a revolver hidden in her hair. Bina fired five consecutive shots at Jackson.  But Stanley Jackson was completely unharmed as all the shots missed the target and Bina was arrested on this spot because of trying to revenge the killing of the revolutionaries of Chittagong.

A few years ago, a report was being shown on a television channel on the day of Pritilita's death anniversary. It can be seen that most of the children of this generation do not know the name of revolutionary Pritilata!  One hears the name but knows nothing about her in details. The more surprising fact is that she is almost unknown even to the people of her own district.  The saddest thing is that even the students of the schools and colleges where Pritilata studied are not well aware of Pritilata's heroism.

It's a shameful matter that the present generation doesn't know about Pritilata. How the present generation is growing up, is easily seen, from these scenes.  They are not involved in reading books and knowledge practices.  So they do not know the glorious history of the country.  

They are forced to learn a little about history in hopes of getting good marks in exams, which they forget next year in the rush of new books and new reading.  

The current generation is not seen as engaging in any creative activity or practicing creativity.  But a generation cannot grow like this. The generation must be rich in knowledge, skilful and expert to lead life in the challenging world. They have to know their history and conscious for their rights.

We need to know the heroic history of all other revolutionaries including Pritilata.  And for that we have to read, practice and research.

This year marks the 91st death anniversary of Pritilata Waddedar. May a revolutionary patriot like Pritilata come back hundreds of times in the ages.  Heroic women like Pritilita are greatly needed in the crisis of the nation. Pritilita's courageous spirit, struggling life and patriotic spirit are the symbols of inspiration for the present generation.

The writer is a researcher, journalist and columnist

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