Matangini was born in the small village of Hogla, near Tamluk in 1869. She did not obtain a proper education due to her father Thakurdas Maity’s poor financial condition. She was married early with Trilochan Hazra of Alinan village
, who was much older than her. She was widowed by the age of eighteen. Thereafter she devoted herself to social service, working tirelessly for others.
In 1905,when the Nationalist movement was at its peak in Bengal, Matangini Hazra became deeply inspired and influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, and followed his teachings so religiously that she later came to be known as 'Gandhi Buri', Bengali for old lady Gandhi.. In 1932, at the age of 62. She was a great follower of Mahatma Gandhi. A notable feature of the freedom struggle in Midnapore was the participation of women. In 1932, she took part in the Non-Cooperation Movement and was arrested for breaking the Salt Act.
She was promptly released, but protested for the abolition of the tax. Arrested again, she was incarcerated for six months at Baharampur. In the Jail she met with many other political prisoners and learned more about the freedom movement. After being released, she became an active member of the Indian National Congress and took to spinning her own Khadi. In 1933, she attended the sub divisional Congress conference at Serampore and was injured in the ensuing baton charge by the police.
In the same year (1933) Sir John Anderson, the then Governor of Bengal, came to Tamluk to address a well-screened gathering, but Inspite of that tough Security , she managed to stage a black flag demonstration in front of the dais.
QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT & MTANGINI HAZRA
As part of the Quit India Movement, members of the Congress in Midnapore District planned to take over the various police stations of Midnapore district and other government offices. This was to be a step in overthrowing the British government in the district and establishing an independent Indian state.
On 29 September 1942, she asked the local leaders to allow her to head a procession for capturing the Tamluk court and police station, but her request was turned down because of her age.
Her chance came when Matangini Hazra was 73 years at the time, led a procession of six thousand supporters, mostly women volunteers, with the purpose of taking over the Tamluk police station. When the procession reached the outskirts of the town, they were ordered to disband under Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code by the police. Amid the chaos, the villagers were ordered to halt by bayonet-clutching British soldiers. As she stepped forward, Matangini Hazra was shot once. Apparently, she had stepped forward and was appealing to the police not to shoot at the crowd.
QUOTE FROM THE ‘BIPLABI’ NEWSPAPER OF THE PARALLEL TAMLUK NATIONAL GOVERNMENT
"Matangini led one procession from the north of the criminal court building; even after the firing commenced, she continued to advance with the tri-colour flag, leaving all the volunteers behind. The police shot her three times. She continued marching despite wounds to the forehead and both hands."
As she was repeatedly shot, she kept chanting Vande Mataram, "hail to the Motherland". She died with the flag of the Indian National Congress held high and still flying.
LEGACY OF MATANGINI HAZRA
Matangini Hazra is not only remembered for her role in the freedom struggle, but also for upholding the importance of women in the life of a nation. She is an epitome of infinite courage and leadership.
The parallel Tamluk government incited open rebellion by praising her "martyrdom for her country" and was able to function for two more years, until it was disbanded in 1944, at Gandhi's request.
India earned Independence in 1947 and numerous schools, colonies, and streets were named after Matangini Hazra. The first statue of a woman put up in Kolkata, in independent India, was Hazra's in 1977. A statue now stands at the spot where she was killed in Tamluk. In 2002, as part of a series of postage stamps commemorating sixty years of the Quit India Movement and the formation of the Tamluk National Government, the Department of Posts of India issued a five rupee postage stamp with Matangini Hazra's likeness. Hazra Road in Kolkata is also named after her.
Shahid Matangini Hazra Government College for Women, Chakshrikrishnapur, Kulberia has been set up to commemorate the memory of the fearless fighter and continue the legacy of enlightenment and empowerment of women that she has bequeathed to the country, and to Medinipur, specially.