Matangini Hazra-a forgotten name must be revived, she remains an inspiration for the women of India and is a symbol of Bharat’s heroic resistance spirit
It is a truism to say that freedom comes at a cost.
Freedom or liberation exacts a huge cost from those who are fighting for liberation.
In this context the role of women in Bharat’s struggle for freedom is immense.
One of the most important yet unrecognizable name in the annals of India’s freedom movement is Matangini Hazra.
She was popularly known as ‘Gandhi buri’.
She was one of the veterans of the freedom movement whose real contribution was seen in the electrifying Quit India or Bharat Chodo Andolan in 1942.
Little is known about Matangini Hazra’s early life, except that she was born in the village of Hogla, near Tamluk (in the current state of West Bengal), in 1869 in the district of West Midnapore.
She did not acquire a formal education as she was the daughter of a poor peasant.
She was married off young but became a widow at the age of eighteen. Her tryst with Bharat’s independence movement began in 1905.
That was during the Swadeshi and Boycott movement that was raging in Bengal and other provinces elsewhere in Bharat.
The Swadeshi and Boycott movement was waged to protest vehemently against the division of Bengal by the British.
Participation in Non-Cooperation Movement
In 1932, she took part in the Non-Cooperation Movement and was arrested for breaking the Salt Act.
She was promptly released but protested for the abolition of the tax. Arrested again, she was incarcerated for six months at Baharampur.
After being released, she became an active member of the Indian National Congress and took to spinning her own Khadi.
One of the most prominent movements in the history of Indian Independence movement was the Quit India movement.
It was launched on 8 August,1942 at Wardha, in the then united Maharashtra province. One of the reasons behind the launching of the movement was the failure of the British sponsored Cripps Mission to assuage Bharat’s concerns.
Another reason was to prevent the possible takeover of Bharat by the Japanese who were moving towards India.
Her fearlessness and spirited actions were at the forefront when on 29 September 1942, 73-year-old Hazra led a large procession of around 6,000 protesters, mostly women, to take over the Tamluk police station from British authorities.
The police tried to stop the march, and amidst the pandemonium that ensued Hazra appealed to the police force to refrain from shooting at the protestors.
Her pleas went unheard, and she was brazenly shot at thrice. She continued marching till she collapsed and died.
This is a lesson for us to not let Matangini Hazra-a forgotten name and acknowledge her contribution duly.