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Remebering Jyatirmoyee Ganguly

Jyatirmoyee Ganguly, was born to very illustrious parents. Her father, social reformer and Brahmo leader Dwarkanath Ganguly was a pioneer who went against his family to make her wife Kadambini the first practising lady doctor of India. Kadambini was a pioneer too. She was the first woman doctor in India, going against the social order, injunctions, and oppressions of a male-dominated society and the education system heavily biased against women. She won in the end as her many battles helped her establish her credentials and even the orthodox society was forced to accept her as a qualified doctor no less capable than any other professional. Throughout her battle she got the support of her husband Dwarkanath (who was much more aged than her) until the latter passed away. But then she passed on her fighting spirit to her daughter Jyatirmoyee who went headlong into the freedom movement. She was associated with young Subhas Chandra Bose who raised a volunteer corp of women for the 1928 Calcutta Congress and put her in a commanding position. She joined the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee of Subhas Bose. She was beside Subhas Bose, the mayor of Calcutta Municipal Corporation, on the fateful day of January 1930 when a battallion of mounted British police charged at Subhas, mercilessly pounding him with iron rods. It was the rapid intervention of Jyatirmoyee that saved Subhas on that day as one British police officer was aiming straight for his skull.

Jyatirmoyee was jailed several times in the coming periods. In 1945 when the students were out in the open on the streets protesting against the British Government's treatment of the prisoners of Azad Hind Army, Jyatirmoyee was constantly beside them, leading and motivating them. On Nov 21 1945, British police in order to stop the students marching against the Government in support of Azad Hind and Netaji, openly fired on the non violent student protest, killing atleast 35 students , including Rameshwar Bannerjee who walked in solidarity and support for the Indian National Army. Jyatirmoyee was one of the leaders who was with the students all through. Congress never came out in support of the students. Neither were the so called Communists who were pampering the radical Islamists, nor were the communal Islamists themselves demanding an independent Pakistan were seen anywhere, although some of them were demanding immediate release of "Muslim" Azad Hind armymen like Rashid Ali. The students, Hindu, Muslim alike, however, fought side by side keeping the legacy of Azad Hind alive. The British Government, thriving on the policy of Divide and rule, who had already decided to divide India on the religious ground by fanning the demand for Pakistan, dreaded the return of Subhas Chandra Bose as per their intelligent reports (4 months after the so called plane crash) and they knew the popularity of Subhas Bose among the students, Hindus and Muslims alike. Subhas loyalists like Leela Roy, Satyaranjan Bakshi and others from Bengal Volunteers and Forward Bloc were mostly in prison. So only danger and threat came from those who were out in the open, old timers like Jyatirmoyee. Jyatirmoyee was killed by a speeding truck (some claim police firing) on 22nd November. Was it an accident or a deliberate murder? We'll never know. But with her, died the last hope of a student led freedom movement and it paved the way for disengaging the students along communal lines, Muslims falling for Muslim League propaganda sponsored by the British while Subhas loyalists getting marginalized and Congress feigning to support INA trial and gaining the upper hand in elections, all the while plotting with the British for a peaceful non violent dominion status preserving the interests of both Britain and Congress. It is surprising that Sarat Bose, a great patriot himself, did not come out openly in support for the students and instead advised them to retreat, something his younger brother would have never done. But then old age and the financial burden of raising a large family can render even tigers toothless. The students, just like the Navy Ratings of February 1946, were openly backstabbed by the British sponsored Congress and Communist politicians as the Indian political class, sensing the smell of fresh power, hated to see Subhas's growing influence and dreaded his return to hog the limelight and credit. Indian won her independence but at a terrible cost and the hero who orchestrated it was being hunted and shunted out by the Indian elites and British authorities alike, his associates being mercilessly killed or imprisoned.

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