First Indian woman to be arrested
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay (1903-1988)
Indian social reformer and freedom fighter, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, is most remembered for her contribution to the Indian Independence Movement. She gained a Social Work Diploma from Bedford College in 1921 after following her husband to England. On her return to India in 1923, she joined a Ghandian organisation set up to promote social upliftment.
Chattopadhyay became actively involved with the All-India Women’s Conference (AIWC) through her friend Suffragette Margaret Cousins.
She travelled across Europe and initiated several social reform and community welfare programmes as well as educational institutions for women, run by women, as part of her work with the AIWC.
She also became the first woman to run for a legislative seat in India. In the 1930s she was arrested for entering the Bombay Stock Exchange to sell packets of contraband salt, becoming the first Indian woman to be arrested. She spent just under a year in prison. Today, she is remembered for her stress on the significance of crafts and grassroot movements in the social and economic uplift of the Indian people.
Image courtesy of K.L Kamal