Women, Freedom and Assam: A Recounting
Updated: Nov 21, 2019
Women of Assam joined the movement in large numbers.
Needless to say, those freedom fighters, who had chosen this revolutionary path, had to face untold miseries. Often they walked for days together without a wink of sleep or a morsel of food, exposing their lives to great risks. In most urban areas the students, both boys and girls continued to play.
As we count down to the 73rd Independence Day for our nation this 15th of August, we recount crucial struggles that had gone amiss previously, but are being revived under the leadership of Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal:
An active part in the underground movement by not only boycotting their educational institutions but also by organizing themselves into Death Squads known as “Mrityu Bahini”. The women of Assam understood Gandhiji’s concept of ‘Do or Die’ in their own way and participated in all types of activities during the Quit India movement.
The Darrang District Congress Committee of Assam decided to hoist the national flag on the police stations and the court buildings, which were the symbols of British authority. Accordingly, the plan was drawn under the leadership of Pushpalata Das to hoist the national flag on 20th September in Gohpur, Dhekiajuli, Bihali and Sootea. It was decided to come out in processions consisting of men and women from nearby villages and to proceed for flag hoisting. The police opened fire on the peaceful processionists at Gohpur and Dhekiajuli. Kanaklata Barua, Khahuli Devi and Kamuli Devi died of bullet injuries on the spot and many others were badly injured. About the participation of women in these programs the
Gopinath Bordoloi Committee report says: What is unique is that, in these daring acts women took an active part and were always in the forefront.
Amid such violence caused by the police, Tileswari Mahanta, a daring women volunteer successfully hoisted the national flag at Bihali police station.
Besides Darrang district, in some other places like North Lakhimpur, Jorhat etc. attempts were made to hoist the national flag on government buildings. On 15th October 1942, eighty women from the villages near Teok made an abortive attempt to attack the police station without any leader of importance. The women of Borpeta district attacked the Patacharkuchi police station and assaulted the police officer in retaliation to the police firing.
Most of the Assamese women generally participated in the movement on Gandhian non−violent line. But some of them being disappointed with the Gandhian methods became involved in underground and extremist activities. In the Sibsagar district, Aikan Bhuyan of Mudoijan near Teok took the lead in setting fire to the Amguri High School. She conducted several secret meetings where she reportedly instigated a number of congress youths to damage government properties. While the saboteurs were engaged in their demolition activities she often volunteered for patrolling duty.
In Nagaon district Jaymati Saikia cooperated with the revolutionary group to burn the Bebejia road bridge on 25 / 26 August 1942. In that district, girls like Pitrani Saikia and Dagati Bora worked for the security of the underground male workers. Brajnath Sarma’s wives, Gunawati Devi and Rakshada Devi helped their husband and his underground party workers to carry on their sabotage activities by providing them with food and shelter. Ratnabala Phukan, a female member of the death squad, not only took part in the destruction of
bridge and the burning down of government buildings but also allowed her house to be used as a center of underground activities. Educated girls belonging to the secret groups were used in transmitting secret circulars and bulletins. Another women, Budheswari Hazarika took an active part in sinking cargo boats carrying military
supplies through the Brahmaputra river.
During the year 1942 complete Police Raj was instituted in Assam and the people were subjected to untold misery. The police were given unlimited power of repression to control the movement. The sufferings of the women of Assam during this period crossed all limits. Beating, slapping, kicking, insulting with the use of filthy language, forcefully entering the house during night hours and misbehaving with the womenfolk etc. were the common methods adopted by the police and military for the suppression of the womenfolk.
Thus beginning with a limited participation in the 1921 phase, the involvement of women in the subsequent phases of the movement became massive in scale and similar in nature to that of the male participants.
It was for this reason that the British Prime Minister declared in 1930 that who, they were afraid of was not Gandhiji but the innumerable illiterate women of India who became the mouthpiece of the message of revolt in every household. No military force could suppress such an awakening. Share this with your friends, and family and tell us what is your #IndependenceStory? You can get latest news updates of Assam from Manuhe Manuhor Babe, a famous news website.
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