Dasgupta, Kamala

Dasgupta, Kamala (1907-2000) revolutionary activist and a leader of the Indian National Congress. Kamala Dasgupta was born in 1907 in a Baidya family of Vikrampur in Dhaka district. She passed the entrance examination in 1924 from Brahma Balika Shikshalaya of Dhaka. Kamala was graduated from Bethune College in 1928 and later obtained MA in History from Calcutta University.

While a student in MA class, the concept of nationalist movement was getting popular among the younger generation of Kolkata and she developed in herself an urge for joining the nationalist movement of India. Kamala Dasgupta in a letter to Mahatma Gandhi expressed her desire to serve the country by joining Sabarmati Axrama. In reply Mahatma Gandhi expressed his support. But under the pressure from her family Kamala had to stay in Kolkata and continue her study. During this time she developed friendly relation with some revolutionary activists of Jugantar Party.

She kept on practicing the art of fighting with Lathi (stick) under the revolutionary Dinesh Majumder. In 1929, Kamala was influenced by the Jugantar Party leader Rashiklal Das and left non-violence thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi to join the Jugantar Party for armed struggle.

Under the directions of the Party, Kamala left her home and took the job of the manager in a ladies hostel at Garpar Road. Her prime responsibility was to secretly preserve the explosives and related raw materials under the veil of the managerial job. She was arrested for a number of times for her alleged connection with bombing assault. But she was easily acquitted for want of evidence. Ultimately she was arrested as an accused in Dalhausi Square Conspiracy Case and was kept confined for 21 days. Consequently she lost her job in the hostel. In February 1932, Biplovi Bina Das attempted to shoot Stanley Jackson, the governor of Bengal (1927-1932) with a revolver supplied by Kamala. Kamala was again arrested, but was released for want of evidence. At last in 1933 the police arrested Kamala red-handed. Kamala was first kept confined in Presidency jail and later in Hijli jail of Midnapore as a political prisonar. Kamala was released from jail in 1936, but she was kept under house arrest till 1938. The same year, Gandhi had a discussion with the leaders of Jugantar Party and ultimately it was amalgamated with the National Congress.

Kamala became the secretary of Bengal Provincial Women Congress in 1941. During this time she joined the quit india movement (1942) and was imprisoned for four years. Later she was involved in relief work, particularly in distribution of relief to the Burmese refugees. During the communal riot in 1946 Kamala was assigned to conduct the relief camps in Noakhali at the instance of Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1938 Kamala Dasgupta took charge of editing the Mandira, a newspaper for the women and continued to edit the paper for couple of years. She had been a teacher in Adarsha Hindi High School in Kolkata from 1946 to 1972. Besides, she worked with Congress Mohila Shilpa Kendra and Dakshinexwar Nari Swabalambi Sadan for the vocational training of the women. In addition to her party activities Kamala contributed articles to the newspapers and journals. She wrote her autobiography Rakter Okshare (1954) and a book titled Swadhinata Sangrame Nari (1963). Various aspects of her political life have been reflected in these books. Kamala died in Kolkata in 2000. [Mamunur Rashid]