17th January 2022

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ICGS Kanaklata Barua

A fast patrol boat (FPV) called ICGS Kanaklata Barua was commissioned by the Indian Coast Guard on Wednesday in Kolkata. It is named after a teenage freedom fighter who was shot and killed in Assam during the Quit India movement.

What is the boat?

  • This is the fifth and final in a series of FPVs built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd. The other four are ICGS Priyadarshini (named after Indira Gandhi), ICGS Annie Besant, ICGS Kamala Devi (after Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay) and ICGS Amrit Kaur.
  • These FPVs are upgraded versions of coastal patrol boats with a modified hull shape and can reach speeds of 34 knots.
  • These ships were also delivered to the Indian Navy by GRSE. In the Coast Guard, these FPVs and their earlier versions belong to the Rajashree class of patrol boats.
  • The older versions were called ICGS Rajashree, Rajtanag, Rajkiran, Rajkamal, Rajdoot, Rajveer, etc. the modified versions bear the names of the freedom fighters.
  • Officials said these are suitable for patrols, maritime surveillance, anti-smuggling operations, anti-poaching, and also for fish protection and search and rescue missions.
  • These FPVs are medium-range surface craft with a length of about 50 m and a displacement of more than 300 tons.

Who was Kanaklata Barua, after whom she is named?

  • Kanaklata Barua, one of the younger martyrs of the Quit India movement, has iconic status in Assam. Barua, then 17, led the Mukti Bahini, a procession of freedom fighters to deploy the Tricolor at Gohpur police station on September 20, 1942. When the police did not allow them to advance, an altercation ensued shots unleashed killing Barua at the head of the procession.
  • She had joined Mrityu Bahini only two days before the incident, the team strictly admitted members over the age of 18, but Kanaklata was an exception. She wanted to lead the procession and after much persuasion he was allowed to do so.
  • Even when Barua was shot, she did not lower the flag. She didn’t want him to fall to the ground. Another volunteer behind her, Mukunda Kakoty, came and held the flag, and she too was shot.

How important is your inheritance?

  • The fact that she was a girl, it captured the national imagination of the time, who runs Vintage Assam, a website on the history of Assam. It was also a time when you saw many women come to light, lead processions, patriotic fervor was at its peak and Kanaklata was a product of that time.
  • Today there are schools that bear her name, there are two statues, there is a boat. Although we now see her as an icon, the people of her village hated her at that time; she was a rebel who questioned patriarchy.
  • The Coast Guard gave an old ship its name. Former ICGS Kanaklata Barua was commissioned in 1997 and dismantled in 2017. During its 20 years of service, it has participated in numerous search and rescue missions, seizing foreign fishing vessels venturing into Indian waters and on evacuation missions. The ship was dismantled in 2018 and sold for scrap.
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