Legacy III:

What others say about her...

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I find Pritilata Waddedar most fascinating– because she was a brooding, intense, complex woman; a fiery revolutionary who was also a deeply emotional human being. Kalpana and Pritilata shared a unique friendship.

Manini Chatterjee, Kalpana Datta's daughter-in-law and author of "Do And Die, The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34"

We should not just keep our focus on the war of liberation as a time when we faced oppression. Our nation has faced oppression even before the liberation war during British reign.

In the present context, the examples set by Pritilata Waddedar so many years ago is very much relevant.

Mujahidul Islam Selim, General Secretary of Communist Party of Bangladesh

She is a power, and an ideal for every woman.

These days, if any young woman makes it to the army, we feel proud and pompous. But back in 1931, such a young lady became a member of the Indian Republic Army. That was a huge achievement.

Selina Hossain, Writer

Nowadays when a young woman takes a decision to join the army, we feel proud and pompous. Women are now actively becoming a part of the army in a bid to serve the country. This is really a matter of pride for the whole nation. But if we look back to 1931, when women had limited scope for outdoor activities, a young leady had shown the courage to join the Indian Republic Army. She is none other than Pritilata Waddedar, who is always a source of inspiration and empowerment for many women in the Indian Sub-continent.

The examples and ideals set by Pritilata Waddedar as a woman leader so many years ago are still very much relevant in this present era.

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The small town of Patiya, that lies beside the ever busy main road from Chittagong to Cox’s Bazar, retains the sure signs of a considerable population of the Hindu faith, with many temples, old and new, and countless small shrines around.

All this, despite the massacre of about 300 of its Hindu inhabitants by the Pakistan Army, and its allies, in 1971.

With a literacy rate significantly higher than the national average, and a thriving market, it is, to the passer by, nevertheless, a very typical Bangladeshi town, slow to make progress.

But the same passersby, and probably many of the inhabitants, are perhaps completely unaware of the brief life, and death, of one of the more notable of those for whom it was their birthplace. Someone, whose life story and youthful martyrdom, might well be read, and is then hard to forget.

To die, at her own hand, by swallowing a cyanide capsule, this young woman ended her life rather than surrender, not to Pakistanis, but to the British administration, against whom, in 1932, she led an unforgettable attempt to strike a blow in order to obtain the respect and independence so many of her fellow Bengalis sought.

...Today, it is not hard to recognise her, as the Birkannya Pritilata Trust describes her, as a "beacon of light for women".

It is also not hard to add that like numerous martyrs across the world, young people who have sacrificed their lives for causes in which they believed, their beliefs subsequently justified by events... one thinks of 17-year-old Kevin Barry, fighting for Irish Independence, who, at 18 years of age, in 1920, also died in a similar cause... she represents the best, not only of womankind, but also humankind.

A woman, and a Hindu. Both identities so frequently forgotten in the moving, and ultimately powerful story of the fight of Bangladeshis, first to free themselves from Britain, and then from Pakistan.

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