Nellie Sengupta (Gray)(1886-1973)
Nellie Sengupta was among the English Women who came to India to dedicate her life for its people. Though an recluse she proved herself as a true Indian patriot.
She was born on 12 January 1886 as the daughter of Frederick William Gray and Edith Henrietta Gray. While studying in England, she met Jatindra Mohan Sengupta an Indian patriot. They 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 letterate 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 of her husband. She was a devoted 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 daunted with her behavior that he wrote a letter to Nellie’s mother, that she was nothing but prize addition to his joint family and a worthy partner of his son.
She was the inspiring power behind all his activities in the political field. Mahatma Gandhi and Sarojini Naidu also inspired her.
During the non-cooperation movement she was arrested while selling khadi in Chittagong (now in Bangladesh). 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 cultivated area laborers who were stranded in Chandpur and were brutally tortured by the British police.
When the health of Jyotindra Mohan deteriorated, Nellie continued his political work. During the days of the Civil Disobedience Movement Nellie accompany 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 Congress President in 1933. It was a recognition for her valuable contribution to the cause of India’s independence. Later Nellie was elected alderman of Calcutta (Kolkata) Corporation.
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(now Bangladesh) 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 October 23rd,1973 in.