The roots of the Indian women’s movement go back to the 19th century male social reformers who took up issues concerning women and started women’s organizations. Women started forming their own organization from the end of the nineteenth century first at the local and then at the national level. In 1946, the two main issues they took up were political rights and reform of personal laws. Women’s participation in tebhaga movement broadened the base of the women’s movement. Tebhaga movement was one of the great post war peasant agitations in Bengal. It was the most extensive of all the post war agrarian agitation. Women of Bengal played a rather significant role in this movement. After the end of the Second World War, there were a number of educated women who were participating in the various peasant rebellions that were springing up all over the country. The legacy of female nationalists, taking part in the Quit India Movement and accepting prison sentence for the nation, had ignited the flame of protest in the hearts of women. Thus there was seen the active participation of women on par with men in these movements and rebellions of which the Tebhaga movement was one. This movement erupted in 1946 in Bengal on the eve of the withdrawal of the British. Although the tide of Tebhaga receded as fast as it rose, the uprising stands out as one of the most important political events in twentieth century Bengal. Among the unique features of the movement is the large-scale participation of women on par with men. The landless and poor peasant women formed fighting troops called ‘Nari Bahini’ and took a front rank role in defending the gains of the movement and in countering the repression of the state. Women of Jalpaiguri District also played an active role in this movement. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the role of women in the Tebhaga movement under the leadership of Communists and seeks to throw light on fundamental questions such as why, despite women's demonstrated capacity to organize, struggle and lead progressive movements.
Key words: Tebhaga, exploitation, Nari Bahini, Jotedar, Zamindar, Krishak Sabha, sharecroppers, communist party, justice.
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