Dhaka, May 5 : The 108th birth anniversary of Bengali revolutionary Nationalist Pritilata Waddedar will be celebrated on Sunday. Marking the day, Bengali daily Bhorer Kagoj will organise a seminar at Jatiya Press Club VIP lounge at 3pm. Education minister Dipu Moni will join the seminar as the chief guest. Pritilata was born in a middle-class Vaidya-Brahmin family on 5 May in 1911 at village Dhalghat of Patiya upazila in Chattogram.
Her father Jagabandhu Waddedar was a clerk of the Chattogram Municipality. Her mother Pratibhamayi Devi was a housewife.Pritilata was nicknamed Rani. Waddedar was a title conferred on an ancestor of the family, who originally had the surname Dasgupta. Jagabandhu tried to arrange the best possible education for their children.
He got Pritilata admitted in Dr Khastagir Government Girls’ School of Chattogram. Pritilata was a meritorious student. Arts and literature were Pritilata’s favourite subjects. She passed out of Dr Khastagir Government Girls’ School in 1928 and in 1929, got admitted to the Eden College, Dhaka. To pursue higher education, Pritilata went to Kolkata and got admitted to Bethune College. Two years later, she graduated in Philosophy from the college with a distinction.
However, her degree was withheld by the British authorities at Kolkata University. In 2012, she (and Bina Das) were conferred their certificates of merit posthumously. After completing her education in Kolkata, Pritilata returned to Chattogram. There, she took up the job of headmistress at a local English medium secondary school called Nandankanan Aparnacharan School.
In the 1930s, Pritilata decided to join the Indian independence movement. Surya Sen had heard about her and wanted her to join their revolutionary group. On 13 June in 1932, Pritilata met Surya Sen and Nirmal Sen in their Dhalghat camp. A contemporary revolutionary, Binod Bihari Chowdhury, objected that they did not allow women to join their group. However, Pritalata was allowed to join the group because the revolutionaries reasoned that women transporting weapons would not attract as much suspicion as men do.
Along with the revolutionary group of Surya Sen, Pritilata took part in many raids like attacks on the Telephone and Telegraph offices and the capture of the reserve police line. In 1932, Surya Sen planned to attack the Pahartali European Club which had a signboard that read ‘Dogs and Indians not allowed’.
Surya Sen decided to appoint a woman leader for the Pahartali European Club attack. Kalpana Datta was arrested seven days before the event. Later, Pritilata was assigned the leadership of the attack. Pritilata went to Kotowali Sea Side for arms training and made the plan of the attack. On the day of the incident, Pritilata dressed herself as a Punjabi male. Her associates Kalishankar Dey, Bireshwar Roy, Prafulla Das and Shanti Chakraborty wore dhoti and shirt.
Mahendra Chowdhury, Sushil Dey and Panna Sen wore lungi and shirt.They reached the club at around 1045hrs and launched their attack. There were around 40 people inside the club. The revolutionaries divided themselves into three separate groups for the attack.In the club, a few police officers who had revolvers started shooting. Pritilata incurred a single bullet wound.
According to the police report, in this attack, a woman with a surname of Sullivan died and four men and seven women were injured.Injured Pritilata was trapped by the British police. She swallowed cyanide to avoid getting arrested.(UNI)