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The indomitable spirit of two Youngest Women Revolutionaries

Shanti Ghosh (15)and Suniti Chaudhary(14), namely the two youngest women revolutionaries of India. Back in the early days, Bengal was full of revolutionary groups and service-based nationalist groups which worked in many ways to oppose the British and serve the Indian people.

Suniti Choudhary

The Early lives of the young revolutionaries 

Shanti Ghosh was born in Kolkata on 22 November 1916. Her father Debendranath Ghosh was originally from Barisal district and was a Professor at Comilla College.

In 1931, Ghose along with a few other girls founded the Chhatri Sangha (Girl Students Association) and served as its secretary. Ghose was inspired by Prafulla Nalini Brahma, a student at Faizunnesa Girls’ School in Comilla, and joined the Jugantar Party, a militant revolutionary organization. She trained in self-defence with swords, clubs, and firearms.

Just like Shanti, Suniti was another young woman willing to fight for her country’s independence. Suniti Choudhary on 22nd May 1917, in Comilla district of West Bengal (presently Bangladesh). She went to Foyjunessa Balika Vidyalaya in Comilla for school.

The early influence in the life of Choudhury was the revolutionary activities of Ullaskar Dutta, a revolutionary from Comilla. Another inspiration for Suniti was Prafulla Nalini Brahma, who was her immediate senior at Faizunnisa Girls’ High School. She mentored her and also provided her with the revolutionary literature books which were banned by the British. Apart from her college revolutionaries, Choudhury’s beliefs were developed by Swami Vivekanand’s famous words — “Life is a sacrifice for the Motherland”. Suniti was also recruited to the Jugantar Party. She also joined the Tripura Zilla Chhatri Sangha, the female wing of the organisation, affiliated with Jugantar. And from here the two revolutionaries Suniti and Shanta carved their way to dedicate their lives to their motherland. 

Shanti Ghosh

Suniti Choudhury was assigned the position of Major of the District Volunteer Corps. She led the parade of girls when Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was in town to address the student organisation. Choudhury was selected as the Captain of the Women’s Volunteer Corps in the Annual Conference of Tripura Zilla Chhatri Sangha, held on 6 May 1931. During this time, she was known by the alias of ‘Meera Devi’. She was selected as the “custodian of firearms” and was in charge of training female members (of the Chhatri Sangha) in lathi, sword and dagger play.

Assassination of Charles Stevens

On 14 December 1931, Choudhury, who was 14 at that time, and Santi Ghose, who was 15,(her classmate) approached the notorious District Magistrate of the Comilla district of Bengal, Mr. Stevens, in his grand bungalow, with a petition for permission for a swimming club. When they came face to face with him, they shot the first bullet from Suniti’s revolver and killed Mr Stevens. Later, the girls were arrested and beaten very badly. They were remanded in custody and kept in very harsh conditions, yet they stayed cheerful the entire way through, always singing their hymns to the Motherland and laughing. It was expected that they would receive the death sentence, but on account of their tender age, they received life sentences. This heroic action of the two young girls thrilled the country from one end to the other. In an interview, they stated, “It is better to die than live in a horse’s stable.”

Under the gaze of wonder, admiration and affection of millions of her countrymen, Shanti along with Suniti went behind the prison bars with a sentence of Life. In prison, Shanti was separated from her comrade Suniti and kept in solitary confinement. 

Suniti Choudhury was held captive in Hijli Detention Camp as a “third-class prisoner”. The effects of her activities were also faced by her family, with her father’s government pension being stopped, and her two elder brothers being held in custody without trial. Her younger brother died from consumption, exacerbated by years of malnutrition. She was released, along with Santi Ghose in 1939, after having served seven years of her sentence and because of the amnesty negotiations between Gandhiji and the British Indian government.

After the release, Ghosh returned to her studies and married Chittaranjan Dasin, an Ex-revolutionary worker of Chittagong in1942. She was also a member of the West Bengal Legislative Council and of the Legislative Assembly for a long period (1952–1968). Her autobiographical book “ARUNBANHI” won great recognition from many. 

Likewise, with a fearless resolve, Suniti once again faced a life full of struggle which awaited her outside. She resumed her studies and became a doctor and carried an extensive private practice. Her mission was to serve the poor who were unable to afford healthcare under normal circumstances. In 1947, the year of India’s independence and partition, she married Pradyot Kumar Ghose, a well-known trade unionist.

Profulla nalini Brahma- The woman who inspired these two revolutionaries

Prafulla Nalini Brahma was born in 1914 in the village of Comilla and her father was a mukhtiar. She was the senior of Shanti & Suniti at Faizunissa Girls School, Comilla and was among the first to be recruited in the Jugantar group of Comilla. Her first task assigned was to organize the women’s wing of the revolutionary group in the district. Prafulla was quick to prove her competence and recruited Shanti Ghosh & Suniti Chaudhary, her junior schoolmates to the revolutionary group. The group was never the same thereafter. As part of its expansion plan, the women’s wing of the Jugantar group of Comilla, Tripura District Women Students Organisation was formed, where Prafulla served as the President and Shanti as a Secretary. 

She was also arrested on 15 December in the CGB Stevens murder case. Later she was released on 17 April 1936 from Hijli jail and interned in her own house at Comilla.

The response of the contemporary Western periodicals described the assassination of Stevens as a sign of “Indians’ outrage against an ordinance by the Earl of Willingdon that suppressed the civil rights of Indians, including that of free speech.” Indian sources portrayed the assassination as Ghose and Choudbury’s response to the “misbehaviors of the British district magistrates” who had abused their positions of power to rape Indian women.

A flyer was found by the intelligence branch of police in the Rajshahi district after the verdict was announced, hailing Ghose and Chowdbury as nationalist heroines. The poster read, “THOU ART FREEDOM’S NOW, AND FAME’S” and illustrated photographs of the two girls alongside lines from Robert Burns’ poem Scots Wha Hae:

“Tyrants fall in every foe!

Liberty’s in every blow!”

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