Basanti Devi- Indian Freedom Fighter 


The first Indian woman arrested during the non-cooperation movement for selling khadi

Basanti Devi was born on 23rd March 1880 to father Baradanath Haldar, diwan of large-scale zamindary in Assam during British colonial rule. She completed her studies at the Loreto House (now Loreto College)  in Kolkata, where she met her husband Chitaranjan Das, and got married at the age of seventeen. They had three children. Her husband was also an activist during British rule.

During the non-cooperation movement, congress called for strikes to encourage the ban on foreign goods. A group of five people was employed to sell Khadi and hand-spun clothes on the  Kolkata streets. Chitaranjan Das and Basanti Devi led one such group. Despite being warned of the British arrest, she went to the streets and got arrested for the same. She was released at midnight but it widespread agitation.

After her arrest, she took charge of the weekly publication of Das known as “Bangalar Katha” and also became the president of the Bengal Provincial Congress in the years 1921 and 1922. She gave a speech at the Chittagong conference in the year 1922 which encouraged grass root agitation.

When her husband died, she turned into an active protestant. Following her husband’s death, she participated in the Khilafat movement and the Civil Disobedience movement and later participated in the Nagpur session of the Indian National Congress in the year 1920. In the next years, she joined the Das sisters, Sunita Devi and Urmila Devi to form a training center for women activists that was titled the ‘Nari Karma Mandir’. Traveling around India, she made cultural developments of arts that opposed colonialism.

She founded the Chittaranjan Seva Sadan for the welfare of needy mothers. She is also known for bravery and courage in publishing the famous revolutionary poem by Kazi Nazrul Islam. The government established ‘Basanti Devi College’ in Kolkata in her honor.  She was awarded the Padma Vibhushan award in 1974.

Staff Reporter

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