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  • Sanika Manchanda

Matangini Hazra

We all know the famous heroes of the quit india movement like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, Lala Lajpat Rai and so many more. During the freedom struggle the whole of India worked together as a group during the quit India movement. We know some of them but what about the others? There were more than one lakh people who participated in the movement.

Out of these, Matangi Hazra played an important role. Let's start from the very beginning, Matangi Hazra was born on 19th October 1870. Very little is known about Matangi Hazra’s childhood. She was born in a village called Hogla near Tamluk which is currently in the state of West Bengal. She did not receive proper education as she was the daughter of a poor peasant. She was married off but became a widow at the age of 18. Soon after this, she returned to her village to devote her time and energy in helping people of her community.

In the early 1900’s, the nationalist movement gained momentum across the country as Gandhi himself crossed across the region spreading awareness. In 1905, Midnapore’s Gandhi Buri became actively involved in the independence struggle. It is said that the participation of women in the liberation struggle from this region was significant. Matangini Hazra played an important role in the non cooperation movement in 1932 but unfortunately she was arrested because of her role in the Salt Satyagraha. She was released quickly after which she still persisted with the demand that the salt tax be no longer valid.

In not more than six months she was arrested again. She got hurt a little while later in the police baton charge after attending a sub divisional Congress convention in Serampore. One afternoon, she decided to be a part of the freedom march. The destination of this march was the governor’s palace. As all of them reached the governor's balcony, she suddenly broke through the cardon, evading the soldiers and brandishing her banner shouting,”Go back, Laat Sahib”. She was beaten up by the British police for this. Her inspiring spirit went on, on 29th september 1942, 73 years old she 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 mayhem 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.

Matangini Hazra was an amazing and extraordinary woman. She was an Indian Revolutionary who played an important role in the freedom struggle. She is often compared to Mahatma gandhi. Like Mahatma Gandhi, her frail body did not deter her from being an inspiring force in the freedom movement. She was so influenced by Gandhi’s belief that she earned the name “ Gandhi Buri” which means the old Gandhian woman. She was a great inspiration for many.

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