75 years of Successful democracy is not just another moment of sweet nostalgia, it also gives us a moment of realization that this freedom is not a gift from intruders but rather a product of thousand sacrifices in the holy altar of Independence.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed “nari shakti” in his address to the nation on our 76th Independence day, and urged people to pledge to not do anything that lowers the dignity of women. He also paid tribute to women freedom fighters for showing the world the true meaning of India’s Nari shakti. There are hundreds to whom we know as the torchbearers in this sacred struggle, but thousands remain lost in the pages of history, unremembered. It becomes our moral duty to pay our tribute to them. Just by remembering them..!

There were no bystanders in the war of Independence, every action or even inaction contributed its own ounce to earn what we have earned 75 years ago. But you may think that how was it possible for a vulnerable who didn't even have the basic amenities of survival to think about the utopian ideals of freedom, peace, justice, liberty & Equality?

Let me ask you a counter-question. What is a modern definition of vulnerable to you ?.

A woman... who had been a child of a poor farm labourer. Who had been a victim of child marriage at the age of twelve... who became widowed at very early age of eighteen without bearing any offspring to take care of her.

Unfortunately, a lady named matangini hazra fulfils every criteria of being vulnerable. But vulnerability is a state of mind, and she chooses not to live the life of a victim but a veteran.

Matangini Hazara was soo influenced by the Gandhian idea of swaraj & Swatantra that she decided to spend her life for the cause of freedom.

The year was 1930 and the waves of uprising against colonial masters were storming high. The beacon was in the hand of Mahatma Gandhi. He urged all, youth and old, men and women, literate or unschooled to be part of the Civil Disobedience Movement. Like thousands, she was always moved by the sight of sufferings that Bengal saw under the unholy rule of the British empire. Always wondered when these sufferings will end, but had no power to change the situation rather than just mourning about it. But she knew, this was the moment, this was her moment.

The freedom struggle in Midnapore, the birthplace of Matangini Ji had a distinct feature of participation of women. She promptly took part in the movement and was arrested by British officials for breaking the salt Act in her locality. But a single arrest was not something a cause of concern for a revolutionary.

Soon after her release...she again participated in in the 'Chowkidari Tax Bandha' (abolition of chowkidari tax) movement. In Bengal Presidency during British Rule support to police was extended by Village Chaukidari Act 1856 to rob tax from poor peasants and provide funds to keep Chaukidari in villages. Chowkidars were particularly hated because they acted as spies for the British overlords and often also as retainers for the local landlords. The tax bandha moment was all about resisting against this troublesome chowkidari act in Eastern India and the chowkidars were being forced to resign.

while marching towards the court building chanting the holy mantra of Vande Mataram to protest against the chaukidari act Matangini ji got arrested again, this time, with six months imprisonment at Baharampur jail.

The jails are much more than just lonely sorrowful places, as sometimes they bring the most valuable insights to aspiring minds. Matangini ji got such insight that A life of a revolutionary is never limited to participating in marches and shouting slogans.., but the revolutionary thought becomes their way of life. After being released, she became an active member of the Indian National Congress, in Midnapore. Matangini ji spent the next few years of her life in social work, contributing her share to that society which never formally acknowledged her. She usually enjoyed spinning her own khadi on the charkha, the eventual symbol of self-reliance. She worked for them, to whom society always outcasted. She helped untouchables, served the victims of smallpox, and even suffered ill health. But was that something which could topple her determination?

The year was 1942, and Matangini Ji was now a grand old lady aged 72. She was being affectionately called Budhi Gandhi (Gandhi Buri) (Bengali for old lady Gandhi). And she deserved it. Once again the north winds of freedom started to blow higher. After the failure of Cripps mission to make peace with those who were being ruled, mahatma Gandhi made a clarion call of "kro ya maro" (Do or Die) on 8 August 1942 from Gowalia Tank Maidan, Bombay. It was just like someone gusted life in a long hibernating nation and everyone stood awake. How can our old lady Gandhi stay aback.

The Midnapore branch of congress planned to take over the Midnapore police station as a mark of their disdain against the unholy rule of colonials. And Matangini Ji, despite of her old age was the frontrunner in that disdain. She led a procession of six thousand women volunteers and supporters with the purpose of taking over the Tamluk police station. The procession was about to reach the outskirts of Tamluk town before they were ordered to disband under Section 144 IPC by the Crown police. But again, was that something which could topple her determination ?

The moment came which comes but rarely in one's life when you know the purpose of your life when you can see everything clearly, when even if death is standing high in front, and you choose not to kneel. Matangini ji marched forward, with a Tricolour flag in her hand. All the volunteers were awestruck by her courage, transfixed at their position, aware of the horrors to come, but she didn't pay any heed to them...or simply she didn't care...because she knew. This was just the worthy sacrifice on the sacred altar of swatantrata. And she will be immoral ..forever. her only companions were the Tricolour that was held high in her hand and the holy chant of “Vande Mataram”.

When the gunshot came, she felt a mind-hot sensation in her left shoulder. The shot was not enough to break her down completely but surely was enough to break the chain of thoughts in her mind. She felt the fury of moment., "police may just open fire on the thousands standing behind me., what will happen to them, what will happen to their families, they have their children's at home, waiting for their mother to come, to feed them, to be with them !"

She ran forward trying to appeal the forces not to open fire at the crowd. But alas, another shot came, and another...she got three gunshot wounds and everything felt numb. And she knew it was the moment. The only holy chant that was soothing her mind, came to her lips again, " Vande Mataram ! ….Vande Mataram..."

she fell on the ground But again, was death enough to topple her determination ? The answer was loud and clear..."never". Her eyes were transfixed at the Tricolour flag in her hand, still held high, still flying.

And the holy chant that will continue to sooth her in her journey to another world, "Vande Mataram.....Vande Mataram....!.."

.    .    .