Ashoka Gupta was a renowned social worker who dedicated her life to social service. In 1946 a violent communal riot erupted in Noakhali in erstwhile East Bengal when Hindu life and property were targeted and conversion was undertaken under the threat of death. Assaults and molestation of women formed a significant feature of the riots. As soon as the news of the riots reached outside world, the members of the All India Women’s Conference formed a Relief Committee with Ashoka as its convenor. Initially they distributed relief materials to the fleeing villagers. But when Gandhiji arrived in Noakhali he advised the workers to set up their camps in interior villages to restore confidence among the terrified Hindus. On Gandhiji’s advice, Ashoka set up her base in an interior village, taking her little daughter with her. Ashoka’s tasks included restoring normalcy and communal peace between the two communities, urging the Hindus to return back, ensuring that the victims received their quota of government relief. She was particularly concerned about the fate of the molested and abducted women. However, she admitted that she could not do much for those helpless women. Nevertheless, she won many hearts through her self-less service in Noakhali and it remained the most memorable chapter in her life.
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