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3. Women freedom fighters of India
 

The list of great women whose names have gone down in history for their dedication and undying devotion to the service of India is a long one. There are endless number of women who daringly fought for India’s freedom with their true spirit and undaunted courage and had faced various tortures, exploitations and hardships to earn us freedom that we enjoy today in our motherland India.

It is a very difficult task list out all Women freedom fighters and equally difficult to segregate a few amongst them.

With all respect and due apologies, furnishing below a brief note on selected ten Women freedom fighters.

3.1 Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi (19 November 1828 – 17 June 1858)
Rani Lakshmibai was one of the leading warriors of India’s freedom struggle who laid an outstanding influence on the succeeding women freedom fighters.

She used to go into the battlefield dressed as a man. Holding the reins of there horse in her mouth she used the sword with both hands. She fought valiantly and although beaten she refused to surrender and fell as a warrior should, fighting the enemy to the last. Her remarkable courage inspired many men and women in India to rise against the alien rule.

She was a symbol of bravery, patriotism, self respect, perseverance, generosity and resistance to British rule. She fought till her last breath for the welfare of women in the country and for the noble cause of India’s independence.

3.2 Sarojini Naidu(February 13, 1879 – March 2, 1949),
Sarojini Naidu, the Nightingale of India, was a distinguished poet, renowned freedom fighter and one of the great orators of her time. She was elected as the president of Indian National Congress. The dynamic phase of Sarojinis career was from 1917-1919. She campaigned for the Khilafat Movement.

When Gandhi launched the Civil Disobedience Movement, she proved a faithful lieutenant. With great courage she quelled the rioters, sold proscribed literature, and addressed frenzied meetings on the carnage at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar.In 1930 when Mahatma Gandhi chose her to lead the Salt Satyagraha the stories of her courage became legion. After Gandhi's arrest she had prepared 2,000 volunteers under the scorching sun to raid the Dahrsana Salt Works, while the police faced them half a mile up the road with rifle, lathis (canes) are steel tipped clubs.

She gave up writing poetry and fully devoted herself to emancipation of women, education, Hindu-Muslim unity etc. She became a follower of Gandhiji and accompanied him to England. Whenever in England, she openly criticized British rule in India which caught the attention of scholars and intellectuals.

3.3 Madam Cama (24 September 1861-- 13 August 1936.)
Madam Cama fought for the freedom of the country till the last in her own way, and helped many revolutionaries with money and materials. She unfurled the first National Flag at the International Socialist Conference in Stuttgart (Germany) in 1907.She declared “This flag is of Indian Independence! Behold, it is born! It has been made sacred by the blood of young Indians who sacrificed their lives. I call upon you, gentlemen to rise and salute this flag of Indian Independence. In the name of this flag, I appeal to lovers of freedom all over the world to support this flag." A thousand representatives from several countries were attended. She traveled a lot of places including America and propagate Americans about Indians struggling for Independence.

3.4 Begum Hazrat Mahal (1820—1879)
Begum Hazrat Mahal was a great Indian freedom-fighter who played a major role during India's First War of independence (1857-58). She was also known as the Begum of Awadh (Oudh) and was the wife of the then Lucknow ruler, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.

she led a band of her supporters against the British, and was even able to seize the control of Lucknow. She worked in close association with other leaders of the India’s First War of Independence, including Nana Sahib. Begum was not only a strategist but also fought on the battlefield. When the forces under the command of the British re-captured Lucknow and most part of the Awadh, she was forced to retreat. When her forces lost ground, she fled Oudh and organized soldiers again in other places. She turned down all offers of amnesty and allowances by the British rulers.

Finally, she took refuge in an asylum in Nepal, where she died in the year 1879. To acknowledge her endless effort in fighting for the freedom of country, the Government of India issued a stamp on 10th May 1984.

 
 

3.5 Annie Bezant (October 1, 1847 – September 20, 1933)
Annie Besant an Irish lady the leader of the Theosophical Society joined the Indian National Congress and gave it a new direction.

She was the first woman president of the Congress and gave a powerful lead to women's movement in India. She soon became a leading labour organizer, strike leader and reformer. She also became involved in Indian Nationalism and in 1916 established the Indian Home Rule League of which she became President. She started a newspaper, “New India”, criticized British rule and was jailed for sedition. She came to be associated with rationalistic congress group of workers who did not appreciate Gandhi’s views.

She got involved in political and educational activities and set up a number of schools and colleges, the most important of which was Central Hindu College High School at Banaras which she started in 1913.


3.6 Arun Asaf Ali (July 16, 1909,—July 29, 1996)

Aruna became an active member of Congress Party and participated in public processions during the Salt Satyagraha. She was arrested on the charge that she was a vagrant and hence not released in 1931 under the Gandhi-Irwin Pact which stipulated release of all political prisoners. Other women co-prisoners refused to leave the premises unless she was also released and gave in only after Mahatma Gandhi intervened.

In 1932, she was held prisoner at the Tihar Jail where she protested the indifferent treatment of political prisoners by launching a hunger strike. Her efforts resulted in an improvement of conditions in the Tihar Jail but she was moved to Ambala and was subjected to solitary confinement. She edited ‘Inqulab’ a monthly journal of the Indian National Congress.

On August 8, 1942, the AICC passed the Quit India resolution at the Bombay session. The government responded by arresting the major leaders and all members of the Congress Working Committee and thus tried to pre-empt the movement from success. Aruna Asaf Ali presided over the remainder of the session on 9 August and hoisted the Congress flag and this marked the commencement of the movement. The police fired upon the assembly at the session. Aruna was dubbed the Heroine of the 1942 movement for her bravery in the face of danger and was called Grand Old Lady of the Independence movement in her later years.

 
 
 
 
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