Quit India Movement
The year was 1942. The British were ruling India for a long time now. This period was known as The British Raj or The Crown Rule in India. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, widely known as Mahatma Gandhi, along with the members of Indian National Congress had initiated Quit India Movement in the month of August on 8th, which was a non-violent one as per Gandhi’s ideologies. Many people from across the country, following the same ideology, had started non-violent and peaceful protests against the oppressors in their regions.
One such procession, having the crowd of approximately six thousand (6000) people, was marching towards Tamluk Police Station in Tamluk (a small town in West Bengal). This procession was confronted by the Crown Police. When the Crown Police asked about their leader, a woman draped in white Saree came forward with a conch in one hand and the Indian National flag in the other and said “I am their leader.”. Her name was Matangini Hazra.
In a small village known as Hogla, near Tamluk in West Bengal, there lived a poor family. On 19th of October 1869, they had a girl child. Her parents named her Matangini Hazra. There is very little information available regarding her childhood, except for the fact that she didn’t get proper education due to her family’s weak financial condition. Also, she got married at the age of just 12 years old. Unfortunately, she was widowed by the age of 18 and didn’t have any children.
This was around the same time when various movements, including non-violence movement, breaking the salt act, quit india movement and other such were picking up pace and Gandhiji was gaining more popularity nationwide. All this resonated with her, and she started to actively participate in such movements, processions and protests.
Full Life Story of 'Gandhi Buri' Matangini Hazra
Activist and Social Worker:
Such protests and movements had the involvement of equal numbers of men and women from across the country. However, Midnapore (West Bengal), also known as Medinipur, had a huge number of female activists including M. Hazra. Not only that, but also females including M. Hazra were actively helping people from their region when the smallpox epidemic broke out, which was during the 1930s. Thus, she wasn’t just an independence movement activist but also a social worker, helping people without the expectation of any returns.
Becoming GANDHI BURI:
In 1930, she participated in two of the major movements going around the country, 1. Civil Disobedience Movement and 2. Salt Satyagrah (movement to repeal the tax imposed on salt under Salt Act). Due to this, she was arrested, but was released quickly. After release, she continued with her activities and joined another movement of ‘Chowkidari Tax Bandha’ (abolition of chowkidari tax). This was closer to home than any other for M. Hazra, as Chowkidari tax was imposed in Bengal, under which tax was collected from the farmers and peasants just like her parents. This participation got her arrested again, and this time she was imprisoned for six months at Baharampur.
After being released, she became a member of Indian National Congress and started spinning her own Khadi (a type of cloth Gandhi insisted upon and also wore throughout his time of participation in Indian Independence movements). As she got more involved in such aforementioned activities, Matangini started to follow Gandhian ideologies more religiously. This, eventually, led her to be called ‘Gandhi Buri’ meaning ‘Old Lady Gandhi’.
The Final Moments:
As mentioned earlier, on 8th August 1942, Gandhi along with others from the Indian National Congress initiated the Quit India Movement. As a part of it, on 29th September 1942 Matangini Hazra led the charge of around 6000 (six thousand) people to take over Tamluk Police Station. The majority crowd consisted of women from various parts of nearby villages along with kids. Section 144 was imposed during that time of the Indian Penal Code, under which gathering of 4 or more people at a place was restricted. In accordance to this the British officer first of all asked for this procession’s leader to come forward. Gandhi Buri announced her leadership. The officer then asked them to disband and return. But she was firm. She blew the conch like a war-horn with one hand, waved the Indian National Flag with the other and marched forward. As she did, the officer ordered to open fire. First bullet hit her one shoulder, but rather than flinching she yelled “Vande Mataram” (Hail to the Motherland) and moved forward. Next bullet hit her another shoulder, and yet she was standing firm and strong marching forward with the flag waving high. The third and the final bullet hit her in the forehead. And with that, at the age of 72, ‘Gandhi Buri’ Matangini Hazra collapsed and took her last breath with the flag still waving on her.
Legends Live On!
The contributions of Matangini Hazra during her lifetime in various movements and for people around her were so many that a statue was erected in her memory in Kolkata (West Bengal) in 1977 and also 5 rupees postage stamps were issued in her commemoration in 2002.
We, the people of India, are highly obliged and proud to have such a real life female hero in our country who dedicated and ultimately laid down her life for the freedom and wellness of people of India, proving once more that Indian culture has always given equal importance and status to women as well as people of any gender.
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matangini_Hazra#Involvement_in_the_Quit_India_Movement
- Indian Culture (Govt): https://indianculture.gov.in/node/2801049
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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