Guwahati: Assam’s iconic freedom fighter Kanaklata Barua is honored as a Fast Patrol Vessel was christened after her name, in Kolkata on Wednesday.
The vessel was commissioned in the Indian Coast Guard in Kolkata, though a video conference by the additional secretary, ministry of Defense Jiwesh Nandan, and was attended by senior officials of the Indian Coast Guard and GRSE, including its chairman and managing director Rear admiral VK Saxena (retd).
Kanaklata Barua, pride of Assam, one of the youngest martyrs during the Quit India Movement. Barua was 17 when she led the Mukti Bahini, a procession of freedom fighters to hoist the Tricolour at Gohpur police station on September 20, 1942. She was killed in a firing when police tried to stop them from unfurling the flag.
The vessel is the fifth and last in a series of FPVs built by garden Reach Shipbuilders and engineers (RRSE) Ltd. The other four are ICGS Priyadarshini (named after Indira Gandhi), ICGS Annie Besant, ICGS kamala Devi (after Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay), ICGS Amrit Kaur, reportedly.
The vessels are designed for a maximum speed of 34 knots with an endurance of more than 1,500 nautical miles. It is equipped with three main engines, according to officials.
Officials said these are suited for patrolling, maritime surveillance, anti-smuggling, anti-poaching operations and also for fishery protection, and rescue and search missions. These FPVs are medium-range surface vessels with a length of around 50 m, and a displacement of over 300 tones.
At a time, when freedom struggle was gaining momentum in Assam, and more and more women were taking part in the movement, Kanaklata Baruah wanted to join Netaji Subhas Bose’s Azad Hind Fauz, bust wasn’t allowed because she was a minor. While Mrityu Bahini, too, compromised members above 18 years, Barua’s zeal to serve the country made her an exception, and she was inducted. She was subsequently made the leader of the women’s cadre of the Mrityu Bahini.
On September 20, 1942, Barua lead a group of around 5,000 people to hoist the Indian flag at the police station. She, however, made sure that the flag did not fall to the ground and did not let go until another volunteer, Mukunda Kakoti, took it from her. Both Barua and Kakoti succumbed to bullet injuries.
Her story of grit and gallant has a legendary status in the state – from schools being named after her to a life-size statue that adorns a park in Assam. Barua’s sacrifice became a source of inspiration for many women and she went on to become a “symbol of patriotism of Assamese womanhood”.