What happened on 26th December, 1986?: On the bitterly cold winter morning in Hrishikesh, Uttar Pradesh (now Uttarakhand), people noticed a poorly clad old woman lying at the roadside. Most of the people ignored the woman. After some time, some people went near her. They found that the woman had already died. They took the lifeless body to a local hospital. The hospital informed the police. The police were initially clueless. After a month or so, the police came to know that the old woman was Bina Das, a freedom fighter from Bengal. She was also a Padmashree awardee.
In this article, we will try to know about the old woman who died on the road of Hrishikesh unattended. Let us go back to 1932.
Why Bina Das didn't receive a graduation certificate?6th February, 1932: Senate Hall, University of Calcutta: The Annual Convocation of the oldest University of India started. Among the students assembled in the Hall for accepting the Degree Certificates, there was a young girl of 21. She had completed her B.A(Hons) in English from Bethune College, Calcutta. She had been waiting patiently. She was nervous. On that morning, one of her friends, Kamala Das Gupta, came to her hostel and handed over the instrument. She kept it inside her woollen shawl. She was standing along with other successful students of her college. She was waiting for the Governor of Bengal, Sir Stanley Jackson, who had been a very famous cricketer.
The Governor arrived along with his ADC and other officials. He reached the podium. He started addressing the Vice-Chancellor, other Professors and assembled students. The young girl of Bethune College suddenly started moving forward towards the dais. She threw away her shawl, took out the pistol and started firing at the Governor of Bengal. She fired five times. Some of the bullets did not hit the mark. Some of the bullets got jammed. Sir Stanley, an agile cricketer, jumped aside and took cover. The girl was overpowered and arrested. She could not take her certificate during the Convocation.
Early life of Bina DasThis young girl, Bina Das, was born on 11th August, 1911 at Nadia District of undivided Bengal. Her father Benimadhav Das, was well-known among the revolutionaries of Bengal. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had been inspired by Benimadhav Das. Bina started her education at St. John Diocesan school. She realized in her childhood itself that although the British are Christians, they do not follow the tenets of Christianity in India. They were very cruel as rulers of India. Initially, Bina was influenced by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, but later she came in contact with Netaji Subhas and felt that violent movement was needed to throw away the British rulers from India.
Bina came to Calcutta to study English Honors at Bethune College. Both Bina and her elder sister Kalyani joined Chhatri Sangha (Association of Female Students), a semi-revolutionary organization, and started participating in active social service.
She learnt to fire the pistol as a student of Betune College and volunteered to kill the Governor during the Convocation, but, very unfortunately, she failed. She was sentenced to hard labor in jail for 9 years.
She was released early in 1939. The Second World War had begun. Bina, although physically weak, was full of nationalistic zeal. She took active part in 'Quit India' movement in 1942. She was again arrested and was imprisoned during 1942-45. After her release, she became a Member of the Bengal Provincial Legislative Assembly.
After independence, Bina was again elected as an MLA in the first Assembly of West Bengal. She married another revolutionary, Jatish Chandra Bhowmik, after independence.
Both Bina and Kalayani (her elder sister), remained actively engaged in social service after independence. They played a major role in the rehabilitation of refugees from East Bengal and the tortured women who came to India after independence. She was conferred Padmashri in 1960 for her social work. However, she refused to accept the pension as a freedom-fighter stating that she had only performed her duty to Mother India.
Bina wrote two autobiographical books, 'Shrinkhal Jhankar' and 'Pitridan'.
Final days After the death of her husband, Bina Das (Bhowmik) went to Hrishikesh to spend her last few days alone. But she did not survive even one year at Hrishikesh. She died in extreme poverty and loneliness.
Epilogue Bina could not take her Degree Certificate in 1932. Same was the case of her friend and another revolutionary from the same College, Pritilata Waddedar. The University of Calcutta conferred the Degree and Certificate to these two great revolutionaries posthumously in 2012.