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BASANTI DEVI DAS (1880–1974)

Basanti Devi Das was the wife of Chittaranjan Das, later known as Desh Bandhu. She was active in the Congress and campaigned also on a number of social issues, including education for women. Basanti Devi College in Kolkata is named after her.

She was born in Kolkata and went to school at Loreto House. At the age of seventeen she was married to Chittaranjan Das. She managed his household and had three children with him. In 1917, when Chittaranjan became involved in politics, she too followed suit. She campaigned for the sale of khadi, and was arrested. Shortly after, her son and husband were imprisoned too. This occasioned a campaign to get her released by many of the prominent figures of the day, including Rabindranath Tagore. She was released but her husband remained in jail, so she took over his political work, becoming President of the Bengal Provincial Congress in 1921. She headed the Chittagong Provincial Conference in 1922 in his stead. Chittaranjan Das was released, but in 1925 he died in Darjeeling. Her daughter Aparna’s inter-caste marriage was the first such in Bengal to be celebrated with full Hindu rituals and without the government’s sanction of a registration certificate.
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