Pritilata Waddedar, a courageous revolutionary, took a stand against colonial oppression at just 21 years old. In 1932, she led an audacious attack on the Pahartali European Club in Chittagong, Bangladesh. This club boldly displayed a sign reading ‘Dogs and Indians not allowed,’ symbolizing British dominance. Disguised as a Punjabi man, Pritilata and fellow members of Surya Sen’s ‘Indian Republican Army, Chittagong Branch’ infiltrated the club.
Pritilata had already demonstrated her dedication to ending British rule by participating in the Chittagong armoury raid in 1930. Though they couldn’t locate the weapons, they successfully disrupted communication and railway lines.
Leading the attack on the European Club, Pritilata faced armed British officers and guards. A firefight ensued, resulting in injuries to several club members. Tragically, Pritilata was hit by a bullet. Rather than becoming a captive, she chose to consume potassium cyanide. Her diary revealed Sen had entrusted her with leadership to show the world that Indian women were ready to fight. Her bravery inspired many.
A leaflet found on her body expressed hope that Indian women would join the armed struggle for freedom. Her story was depicted in films like ‘Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey’ and ‘Chittagong.’
Pritilata Waddedar, born in 1911, hailed from a middle-class family in Chittagong. She excelled academically, inspired by women freedom fighters like Leela Nag and Bina Das. She eventually became a teacher and headmistress of Nandankanan Aparna Charan English Medium Secondary School.
Despite her achievements, British authorities denied her a degree. In 2012, Calcutta University posthumously awarded her a degree, correcting her name as ‘Waddar’ in their records. Pritilata’s legacy stands as a symbol of unwavering courage against colonialism.
Re-reported from the article originally published in The Print