• 07-Jun-2023

BINA DAS 1911 to 1986

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Born on 24 August 1911 in Bengal, Bina Das grew up in a family where her parents were social workers and involved with the Brahmo Samaj, while her brother was actively involved with the freedom movement. Ever since she was a child, she was influenced by the rising wave of nationalism, and Swadeshi, and revolutionary literature. Subhas Chandra Bose was her father’s student and visited them often, and his beliefs inspired the young Bina. From her school days, she made no effort to hide her resentment towards the British. The British Viceroy’s wife was visiting her school, and the students were told to welcome her by scattering flowers at her feet. Bina felt this was insulting, and she quit the rehearsal in dismay to show her protest. On that day, she vowed to sacrifice her life for the freedom of the country.

The outrage created by the actions of the Simon Commission had a cascading effect. By the late 1920s, many young students, especially women, joined the freedom movement and actively participated in the protests and demonstrations. It was during this time that Bina Das who was studying at Bethune College organised a protest in her college. She joined the Chhatri Sangha, a society of girl students started by her sister Kalyani Das, wherein the women members were taught basic self-defense and how to use batons.

Bina writes in her memoir, “the youth of Bengal came forward… with deadly weapons and fire rebellion in their eyes, they emerged with death-defying arrogance… The purpose was to make the tyrant aware of its tyranny.” Bina Das felt that rather than openly participating in rallies and strikes and actively working to collect funds and gather members, it was the right time for her to join the underground movement. She shifted from Bethune College to Diocesan College. Her fight for freedom went underground as she and her contemporaries were motivated by slogans like, “karenge ya marenge” (Do or Die), a mantra that inspired the youth of Bengal long before it became a slogan in 1942.

In one such incident, when she got to know that the Governor of Bengal was going to attend her forthcoming Graduation ceremony, she thought it would be a befitting occasion for her to show her protest. She confided her intentions to Kamala Dasgupta, her comrade, and asked her to procure a revolver. Bina Das was well aware of the consequence of her action, and despite this, she remained resolute and determined. On 6 February 1932, in the crowded convocation hall at Calcutta University, she fired 5 gunshots at Sir Stanley Jackson who was then addressing the audience. Though her attempt to kill the Governor failed, this daring act of hers left an indelible mark on the nation. She was sentenced to imprisonment for nine years, during which, despite the rigorous torture she had to undergo, she never revealed the names of her associates. Despite her long years in jail, she did not step back. After her release, she joined the Congress Committee in Calcutta and organised various strikes and protests during the Quit India Movement, because of which she was imprisoned again.

Bina Das was one of the most fearless revolutionaries of the time. She dedicated her life to the cause of the liberty of the nation. She inspired many young women in Bengal to come forward. For her selfless contribution, she was awarded the Padma Shri in 1960. She passed away on 26 December 1986.