The freedom fighter who made bombs for revolutionaries

Deepika Padukone tried out for the role of Kalpana Dutta in Ashutosh Gowariker’s historical biopic in 2010 Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. She was praised for portraying a young freedom fighter who played a pivotal role in the Chittagong Arsenal Raid in 1930. She spent 6 years in prison after being arrested in 1933. Later she is remained an active communist leader and worked during the Bengal famine.



Kalpana Dutta was born on July 27, 1913 in the village of Sripur in Chittagong district, now part of Bangladesh. After completing her secondary education in Chittagong, she joined Bethune College in Kolkata. Later, Kalpana joined Chhatri Sangha, where she came into contact with revolutionaries like Bina Das and Pritilata Waddedar.

freedom movement

In 1931, Kalpana Dutta joined Surya Sen’s Republican Indian Army which had led the raid on the Chittagong Armory a year ago. She made bombs and served as a courier agent for the revolutionaries. In the same year, she and Pritilata Waddedar were assigned to attack a European club in Chittagong. But Kalpana was arrested a week before the raid while scouting the area. After her release on bail, she went into hiding. However, Kalpana was arrested in 1933 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Amid public protests, Mahatma Gandhi visited him in prison. Six years later, Kalpana was released from prison.

Deepika Padukone played Kalpana Datta in Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. (Photo: YouTube/Series T)

Also read: Rukmini Lakshmipathi, the first woman to be imprisoned for Salt Satyagraha

After her release from prison, Kalpana devoted herself to relief work during the Bengal famine of 1943 and the partition of Bengal. In 1940, she joined the Communist Party of India and married a senior party official, PC Joshi, three years later. She died at the age of 81 in Calcutta.

Also Read: Savitribai Phule, the Social Reformer Who Founded India’s First Girls’ School

As India celebrates 70 years of independence, we bring you stories of women who participated in India’s struggle for independence. You may have heard of some of them, but most find no mention in our history books or in popular memory. They were ordinary women from all walks of life who managed to make extraordinary contributions to the cause of freedom. This series is our tribute to these women and their exemplary work. We bring you 70 stories of courage and bravery over the next week leading up to August 15, 2017. Write to us, if you have names to add to this list. Email: [email protected]

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Thelma J. Longworth