Stories from Tripura

The would-be-girl assassin who died by the roadside: Jackson Gate and a revolutionary

Jackson-gate-in-Agartala
Jackson gate in Agartala

Everyone in Agartala knows the place called , but very few probably know history attached to it. Sir F. Stanley Jackson became the Governor of Bengal in 1927

Manas Pal

Everyone in Agartala knows the place called Jackson Gate. But many of the new generation have neither seen the Jackson Gate nor know the history that is attached with it. The Jackson Gate – a grand architecture –which at first may look like the North Gate but was different in many other ways- was erected to welcome the then Governor of Bengal Sir Francis Stanely Jackson to Agartala during ’s rule.. The Jackson Gate was, however, as many elders told, demolished in early part of 1970s –as it happened in many other parts of this city- to ‘widen the road’. The road was, of course, widened but at the cost of a great historical monument.

Sir F. Stanley Jackson before becoming the Governor of Bengal in 1927 ( till 1932) had been a cricketer of great skills. As Captain of Cambridge University Team , he first noticed KS Ranjit Sinhji and took him to the team.  Jackson was, in fact, one of the most well known cricketer of that time. After his Cricket career Jackson came to Calcutta as the Governor in 1927. At that time he was also awarded with .

However, the story does not end here.

Sir-F-Stanley-Jackson
Sir F. Stanley Jackson

In 1932 Sir F S Jackson was invited to deliver a speech at the Calcutta University Convocation on February 6 that year. As soon as he started his speech a small frail 21 years old girl student made her way near the stage and then suddenly brought out her –she fired first two bullets to Jackson. But Jackson was an eminent sportsman, he was still fit and highly agile and he did not lose his reflective skills. The former cricket team captain ducked both the bullets. in the meantime overpowered Bina Das but still she managed to fire two more rounds to Jackson which he again ducked- one bullet grazed past his ear.

Known as ‘Agnikanya’ Bina Das was a young revolutionary and hailed from a family of freedom struggle activists. During her trial she made a speech which clearly showed her idealism, her commitment, her spirit and love for her country.  A former student of  St. John’s Diocesan Girls’ Higher Secondary School she said :

She was given nine years Rigorous Imprisonment and the Calcutta University held her Graduation Certificate. Ironically, this Graduation certificate was given to her posthumously 80 years later in 2013.

After her release from the jail Bina Das continued with her activities for freedom struggle till 1947.  In fact after her release from the jail she had joined the Congress and also  she participated in the Quit India movement in 1942 . She was arrested and imprisoned again for three more years.  She was also was a member of the Bengal Provincial Legislative Assembly ( 1946-47 ) and, from 1947–51, of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.

In the meantime, in 1947 Jackson died in a car accident.

Agnikanya-Bina-Das
Agnikanya Bina Das

In 1960 Government awarded the firebrand revolutionary with Padmashree but for her social service. She after her husband’s death was living in Hrishikesh and in abject poverty, yet, she declined all sorts of government doles for her role in the freedom movement.

 It was so unfortunate that such a revolutionary who once hit headlines of all the international newspapers for attempting to the mighty British Governor in her such a young age, who spent her entire youth and formative stage for the freedom of the country died virtually alone, hungry and unknown –by the road side of on 26 December, 1986. Her partly decomposed body was found lying by people and was later cremated with government support.

Bina Das was born on August 24, 1911 to Benimadhab Das, a teacher at Ravenshaw  College Cuttack where Netaji Subhash was once his student, and Sarala Devi- also a social activist with strong inclination to freedom struggle. Her elder sister Kalyani was also actively involved in freedom struggle, so was her husband Jyotish Chandra Bhaumik, also a freedom fighter from Jugantor group.

She had also authored two autobiographical books Shrinkhal Jhankar and Pitridhan.

Jackson-gate-in-Agartala
Jackson gate in Agartala

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