Assam’s first female freedom fighter, shot a century ago, rediscovered on stage 

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GUWAHATI: More than a century after she was shot in Assam’s Darrang district for leading a fight against foreign liquor and opium, an unsung tea plantation worker has been rediscovered on stage. 

On August 29, the North East Regional Centre (NERC) of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (INGCA) staged Malati Mem, a multilingual play based on the life and the revolutionary zeal of Mangri Orang, an Adivasi with roots in central India. Fellow plantation workers used to call her Malati Mem, the second word being a shorter form of memsahib

The play, directed by Pari Sarania, an alumnus of the National School of Drama’s Sikkim campus, and scripted by Pranab Kumar Barman, was held at the Madhavadeva International Auditorium in Guwahati. 

‘Unsung hero’

“Mangri Orang is an unsung hero of India’s struggle for freedom from British rule. She was gunned down in 1921 for leading a fight against foreign liquor and opium pushed during the colonial period,” Suresh Ranjan Goduka, the regional director of INGCA-NERC, said on Friday. 

She is said to be the first female martyr of India’s freedom movement.

The theatrical production, an outcome of a month-long workshop, was an initiative to showcase the life and contributions of the icons of the northeast on the national stage, he said. 

A team of about 40 members took part in the production of the play. A preview show was also held at Nalbari Natya Mandir, about 70 km northwest of Guwahati, for feedback and suggestions on the content and treatment of the play.  

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