Published : Sunday, 24 September, 2023 at 12:00 AM Count : 282
Pritilata Waddedar was the first woman to sacrifice herself in the anti-British movement. 24th September is 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 Chattogram district. Her father's name is Jagabandhu Waddedar. He was the officer of Chattogram Municipal Office. Her mother's name is Pratibha Waddedar. Pritilata was the second child among six siblings. Her family nickname was 'Rani' and pseudonym was 'Fultar'.
In 1918, Pritilata'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 from Dr. Khastagir Govt. Girls' High School 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. Pritilata then enrolled in Bethune College, Calcutta as an undergraduate. She graduated in philosophy in 1932. Returning to Chattogram 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. Pritilata had a great desire to meet with Master Da Surya Sen. With Pritilata'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 Pritilata's sense of duty, bravery and firmness of character, and appointed her as the leader of the attack on the European Club at Pahartali.
Remembering Pritilata Waddedar
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. Apart from her, the remaining seven members of this party are-Kalikinkar Dey, Shanti Chakraborty, Bhireshwar Roy, Prafulla Das, Sushil Dey, Mahendra Chowdhury and Panna Sen. The campaign was launched on 23th September, 1932 at 10 pm 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, Pritilata 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. It should be noted here that earlier instructions were that under no circumstances should the enemy be captured alive. In her wounded state, she committed suicide by cyanide poisoning in order to prevent the British imperialist forces from capturing her alive. Pritilata proved that Master Da Surya Sen's decision was absolutely correct, Pritilata 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 are puzzled to identify a woman as the attacker.
After 80 years, Calcutta University has 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. The degree was conferred on 22 March 2012 at the convocation of Calcutta University. The Chancellor of Calcutta University accepted the degree certificate on behalf of the State Government and handed it over to the university authority. This certificate is stored in the university.
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 Chattogram 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 Chattogram. The then Prime Minister and Vice-Chancellor of Bengal, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, jumped down from the stage and grabbed the young girl. She was still shooting. That young lady was revolutionary Bina Das. 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 Das was arrested on this spot because of trying to revenge the killing of the revolutionaries of Chattogram.
At Pahartali in Chattogram city, the then European Club is currently the office of the divisional engineer of the eastern region of Bangladesh Railway. In front of this European Club, the 'Birkonna Pritilata' memorial sculpture has been installed. It was inaugurated on October 2, 2012. But it is a matter of great regret that before the installation of the 'Birkonna Pritilata' memorial sculpture, there is nothing but a 'Memorial Plaque' given by the Pahartali Railway School Alumni Association at the office of the Divisional Engineer of Railway East and a memorial on the road island in front of the Pahartali Sub Post Office next to the European Club in memory of this heroine. However, there is a bust of Pritilata Waddedar at Dhalghat in Patia Upazila of Chattogram. Chittagong University and Jahangirnagar University have residential halls named after Pritilata.
The writer is a researcher, journalist and columnist