October 17, 2021

Comrade Saraju Datta

COMRADE Saraju Datta, a symbol of exemplary dedication, unyielding commitment and one of the torch-bearers in the movement for democracy and emancipation of women during the repressive rule of the feudal king in the state breathed her last in IGM Hospital, Agartala on October 5, 2021. She was wife of Biren Datta, one of the founding members of the Communist Party in the state during pre-independence days.

Comrade Saraju Datta attained membership of CPI in 1947.

Manik Sarkar in his condolence message  attributed her as a pioneer leader of the women movement in the state and expressed deep respect to her memory. 

Being wedded with Biren Datta, a communist, Comrade Saraju Datta sincerely dedicated herself for the cause of emancipation of the hapless people both tribals and nontribal who were striving for getting freedom from yoke of feudal onslaughts and economic exploitation. Their wedding was held in the mid-forties of last century, when the state was passing through a tumultuous situation, with newly formed Janashikha Samity led by Dasaratha Deb.

The Samity workers had to work defying repressive multi-pronged drives of the monarchy. When repression of the king’s police on the tribal masses in search of Janashiksha Samity leaders escalated to an unbearable extent, Samity leaders formed ‘Ganamukti Parishad’ in 1948 to save the people from police repression. The Communist Party was banned in 1948, Biren Datta was arrested and sent to Tezpur Jail in Assam.

The arrest of Comrade Biren Datta  and other communist leaders left her unattended with a feeding baby.  The Ganamukti Parishad leaders arranged staying of Comrade Saraju Datta in a remote tribal village at Sutarmura and engaged her in a newly started school as teacher.  She went there with baby in her arms. The villagers provided her habitation, milk for the baby, some rice and vegetables as wage. She gladly accepted this life, adopted their language, food habit and culture etc. While teaching in the school, simultaneously, she started political campaign against the monarch rulers. She discoursed that, the socio-economic distress that most of the people are suffering from were not the curse of god, rather it was the outcome of exploitative system of society. She extensively campaigned against superstitions like witch-hunting, wearing amulet and treatment by Ujha etc.  She had to play hide and seek with the police to escape arrest. After living there for three years she came out.

In 1951, in its first state conference of the Tripura state women association at Darogamura of Sadar sub-division Comrade Saraju Datta was elected assistant general secretary of the organisation.  

In the sixties of last century, the state was in turmoil by the widespread student movements. Datta’s provided a room of their house at Joynagar, Agartala to the students to run an office as a centre of contact from various sub-divisions. Her motherly affection to the then students’ workers (most of whom are in the leadership of the party at present) during the period is never erasable.