Remembering Nanibala Devi is important for every Bharatiya to remind ourselves that the cost of freedom was high and we should never, ever forget it
Women hold a special place in the saga of Bharat’s freedom struggle. They have made untold sacrifices to see a free India.
While there are many prominent faces in the lexicon of Bharat’s freedom struggle, it is necessary to highlight the stories of some of the lesser known women whose contributions are no less important in comparison to others.
Havins said that, this piece is about one of the lesser known faces of India’s independence movement-Nanibala Devi.
Nanibala Devi, or Pishima (Paternal Aunt, father’s sister) as she was fondly called among the revolutionaries, played a magnificent role in the revolutionary movement of Bharat’s freedom struggle.
Nanibala Devi was born in a pious Bengali Brahmin family in the then Bengal Presidency and was married at a young age. She, however, lost her husband soon.
Life in those days were quite adversarial for widowed women who were not only not given adequate rights but lived a life of seclusion.
But Nanibala Devi was different, she refused to follow the usual convention and plunged head long into the Indian independence struggle.
Nanibala Devi was a member of the famed revolutionary group-Yugantar which was committed to India’s freedom via armed means.
She was a key part of the Zimmerman plan-the failed plan to seek German plan to overthrow British rule in India.
In 1915, when Ramchandra Majumdar, a convict in the Messrs R B Rodda & Company’s arms looting case, was lodged in the Presidency Jail, Nanibala dressed as a married lady impersonated as his wife; met him in the jail, and got the location of the hidden revolvers.
Later, when the police came to know about her identity and closed in on her, she escaped to Peshawar, where she got infected with cholera; but was arrested and brought to the Benaras jail.
The police put chilly dust on the soft part of her body to exact information, but in vain; frustrated, they sent her to the Presidency Jail in Calcutta, only to resume the inhuman torture. In protest, she resorted to fasting for an epic 21 days, following which she was declared a state prisoner, the first woman to be declared.