Nellie Sengupta was one among the English women who came to India to dedicate her life for its people. Though an outsider, she proved herself as a true Indian patriot. She was a unique combination of all the best qualities. She was a devoted wife, a saintly mother and an active political leader. Though she inherited her native tradition she also acquired the true sacrificing spirit of oriental civilization. She was a real representative of the nineteenth century renaissance.
Early Life of Nellie Sengupta
Nellie Sengupta was born on 12th January 1886 as the daughter of Frederick William Gray and Edith Heneriata Gray. While studying in England, Nellie met Jatindra Mohan Sengupta (an Indian patriot). They eventually, fell in love and were married. After her marriage, she adopted her husband`s country as her own and associated sincerely with her husband`s work to liberate India from the bondage of British imperialism. Nellie abandoned the land of her birth and fought against the colonial rulers of her motherland for the sake of her husband. She was a dedicated life partner who whole-heartedly sided with her brave husband on all occasions during their hours of happiness and sorrow. There was doubt among her in-laws whether she would be able to adjust herself in a joint Indian family. But soon Nellie dispelled this doubt by adjusting quickly to the Indian joint family life. They proved to be an ideal couple not only in family life but also in the political field. Her father in law was so impressed with her behaviour that he wrote a letter to Nellie`s mother, that she was nothing but a prize addition to his joint family and a worthy partner of his son. Without the active help and cooperation of Nellie, Jatindra Mohan could not have risen to prominence so easily. She was the inspiring power behind all his activities in the political field. In that field Mahatma Gandhi and Sarojini Naidu also inspired her.
Political Life of Nellie Sengupta
During the non-cooperation movement she was arrested while selling khadi in Chittagong. Thus she had to endure prison life for the cause of her husband. She helped her husband when he was involved in the strike of the Bengal Assam Railway men as well as steamer service workers in support of the tea plantation labourers who were stranded in Chandpur and were brutally tortured by the British police.
When the health of Jatindra Mohan deteriorated, Nellie continued his political work. During the days of the Civil Disobedience Movement, Nellie accompanied her husband on political tours to Delhi and Amritsar. Jatindra Mohan was arrested for delivering a political lecture. She purposely delivered a speech at a banned meeting in Delhi. She was arrested and put in prison for four months. Nellie was elected as the President of Indian National Congress in the year 1933. It was a recognition for her valuable contribution to the cause of India`s independence.. Later, Nellie was elected Alderman of Calcutta Corporation.
Life of Nellie Sengupta after Independence of India
After the Partition of India, she stayed in her husband`s paternal house. She devoted herself to social welfare work. She was elected unopposed to the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly from Chittagong. She was brought to India for special medical treatment during the last days of her life. In spite of the best treatment made available, she breathed her last on 23 October 1973.