Today On September 29th in 1942, a valiant freedom fighter Matangini Hazra laid her life for the cause of our nation. A staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi, Matangini’s fragile body did not discourage her to fight for India’s freedom struggle. Inspired by Gandhiji’s ideologies, she earned the name “Gandhi Buri”, the Bengali term for ‘old lady Gandhi’
Born in 1869 to a poor family in the small village of Hogla, Near Tamluk, Matangini showcased an exemplary attitude in India’s freedom struggle movement. She was married at the early age of twelve. A few years after the marriage, she lost her husband.
Influenced by Gandhian philosophy, 1905 onwards she started her active participation in the Indian freedom struggle movement. The most significant feature of her freedom struggle in Midnapore was the participation of women in large numbers.
The Civil Disobedience Movement of 1930 was a turning point in her life, she decided to join the movement but was later arrested for breaking the Salt Act and incarcerated for 6 months at Baharampur Jail in Murshidabad.
Soon after her release, she again took the reins of the freedom struggle and participated in the ‘Chowkidari Tax Bandha’ movement to abolish the Chowkidari tax for which she was again arrested.
In January 1933, when the then governor of Bengal Sir John Anderson visited Tamluk, people gathered on the streets to protest and shouted ‘Go Back, Laat Sahib’. Matangini was at the forefront of the protest and held a black flag in her hand. She was beaten up by British police for her daring act and was arrested again.
The last event of Matangini’s freedom struggle was the Quit India Movement of 1942. On September 8th, during a protest in the Tamluk district, three freedom fighters were shot dead. The incident aggravated the locals.They decided to hold a protest rally on September 29th. Matangini came to the forefront of the protest and travelled around the villages where she gathered the support of around 5000 people who met near the Tamluk police station. They took this step to overthrow the Britishers from the district and establish an independent state. As the procession reached the outskirts of the town, British forces ordered them to stop but Martangini was not ready to bow down. At the age of 73, with bravery and fearlessness, she went on with the protest but was at last shot dead by the British police.
Her martyrdom did not go in vain and her contributions have been recognized by our countrymen. She is the first woman whose statue has been put up at the Kolkata Maidan in 1977. There’s also a statue dedicated to her, that stands tall in Tamluk, the place where she breathed her last in 1942. Later in 2002, to commemorate 60 years of Quit India Movement, a series of stamps were issued by the Indian government, among which was the five rupee postage stamp with the image of Matangini hazare. A major road in South Kolkata has been named as ‘Hazra Road’, in the memory of our valiant freedom fighter.