Our country India is a glorious land full of wonders. From the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, the Thar Desert to the snowy mountains of Sikkim, it is a country full of beautiful landscapes. Moreover, it is known for its diversity in regions, languages, food, clothing, and festivals.
But we have not got all these in free. The education, secularism, and democracy we enjoy today is the exchange of bloodshed by millions of Indian natives who came out to fight against the British rule and gave their lives to break the shackles of oppression. Those freedom fighters played an extensive role in getting independence for the country. Our nation was blessed with such Bravehearts who proved that courage knows no boundary.
We all know Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Subhash Chandra Bose, and more like these who are the popular ones. But the fight for freedom was not fought only by them. Even though we know a lot of names of those brave people, there are more who has been unjustly forgotten over the years. They were equally valorous freedom fighters. On this Independence Day let us dig out the story of one such great woman revolutionary ‘Matangini Hazra’.
She was a fearless, fierce and bold woman born on 19 October 1870 into a poor peasant family from a small village in Tamulk in West Bengal’s Midnapore district. Because of her family’s poverty, she was not able to avail primary education. Due to which she remained unschooled all her life and compelled to become the child bride of an affluent widower Trilochan Hazra, a man in his sixties. By the age of 18, she was already a widow, had no child, and returned to her hometown. Thereafter she devoted herself to social service, working tirelessly for others.
In 1905, she began taking a keen interest in the Indian independence movement. On 26 January 1932, a procession was taken out in her village, primarily accompanied by men. When it passed her hut, she came out and joined it, pledging to uproar for the liberation of the country. She was then 62. It was a critical decision to take at such an age, but she gripped to it with profound morality and determination.
That year she also engaged with the Salt Satyagraha. Despite her poor eyesight, she regularly spun and wore khadi. She was jailed more than once, but the police were embarrassed to detain her for more than a few hours because of her sex and age. In 1933 Sir John Anderson, then Governor of Bengal, came to Tamluk to address a well-screened gathering, but in spite of security, Matangini managed to stage a black flag demonstration in front of the dais. She was sentenced to six months’ rigorous imprisonment, no trifling burden for a woman of her years. Her jail term allowed her to come in contact with many other political prisoners and to learn more about the freedom movement. She was powerfully attracted to Gandhi’s ideas and on her release began to practice them faithfully. This earned her the nickname ‘Gandhi Buri’ or ‘Granny Gandhi’ in Midnapore.
During the Quit India movement, members of Congress scheduled to capture the varied police stations of Medinipur district and other government offices. 73-year-old Hazra directed a procession of six thousand followers, mainly women volunteers, with the motive of taking over the Tamluk police station. When the procession entered the outskirts of the town, they were authorized to halt by bayonet-clutching British soldiers. As she walked forth, Hazra was shot once. She requested the police not to fire at the crowd. As she was repeatedly shot, she kept chanting Vande Mataram, “hail to the Motherland”. She died holding the Indian Flag in her hand.
The Biplabi newspaper of the parallel Tamluk National Government commented:
“Matangini led one procession from the north of the criminal court building; even after the firing commenced, she continued to advance with the tri-color flag, leaving all the volunteers behind. The police shot her three times. She continued marching despite wounds to the forehead and both hands.”
Such was the ‘Gandhi Buri’.
~ By Tanisha Jindal