Photos: Prabir Das
We know Chittagong as the second capital city and the biggest port city of our country. Filled with up and coming businesses, Chittagong has built quite a reputation. The district also holds a rebellious history. The fact that the first rebellion against the British Empire occurred in Chittagong is quite intriguing. The famous tale about the Chittagong East European Club and the martyr Pritilata Wadedar took place in the heart of Pahartali.
In 1930, Surya Sen popularly known as Master Da along with a group of rebels planned to attack several British establishments which is known as the famous armoury raid. Though the plan did not work, it scared the British Raj. Surya Sen and some of his comrades got caught while others escaped or got killed. One of the escaped comrades was Pritilata Wadedar, a former school teacher, who participated in the telegraph office attack and supplied grenades in the Jalalabad battle.
After the Jalalabad battle, Surya Sen's revolutionary group disengaged its activities due to lack of man power. In 1932, Pritilata Wadedar planned to seek vengeance. She gathered a few rebels including Kalishankar Dey, Bireshwar Roy, Prafulla Das and Shanti Chakraborty, who could somehow manage to survive. The plan was to attack the Chittagong East European Club. There was a significant reason why they chose to attack the club. It had a sign on the front gate which clearly stated, “Indians and Dogs are not allowed”.
Surya Sen assigned Pritilata to lead the group as she would attract less attention. The members of the group were given potassium cyanide and were told to swallow it if they were caught.
On September 23, Pritilata dressed as a Panjabi male, attacked the club with her associates. The attack was launched at around 10:45 pm. There were 40 people in the club including high ranking British officers. A few officers with revolvers started shooting right after the attack, which killed some of Pritilata's associates.
Pritilata herself was injured and got trapped by the British police. Finding no way out, she swallowed the potassium cyanide and killed herself. The next morning the police found the body and identified her. While conducting the search, the police found a few leaflets, photograph of Ramkrishna Biswas, things like bullets, whistle and a draft of their plan of attack.
The historical structure of the East European Club still stands in Pahartali with a monument of Pritilata Wadedar. It is now being used as a government office. The authorities plan on renovating the structure soon by tearing down the building. If that is the case, then we will be losing one of the major historical battle fields that our country has ever witnessed.