Pre independence was a time when every citizen of India dreamt of living in an independent nation. A nation of their own where they do not have play as a slave in the hands of the British government. Each and every citizen, young or old, man or women were in some way or the other fighting for independence. Everyone was doing their bit. There was a war fought every day to be able to breathe in a free independent INDIA. And women, were no different. During the crucial years of Indian freedom struggle between 1857 to 1947, many Indian great women left the comfort of their homes, their kitchen and even the love of their families to join the freedom struggle. These courageous women had the guts and determination to lay their lives for the independence of their country and also to safeguard the future of the coming generations of India.
The British ruled over India for over 200 years and in these years women suffered a lot if not the most. Molestation, rape, injustice were common during that time. Under the British rule, destruction of the weaker section of the society was at its peak. Corrupt defiance of morals principles and the uncontrolled exploitation of people was in full swing.
Indian culture has always been male dominated but women too joined the freedom fighting struggle and contributed significantly in the independence struggle of India. Various movements were started by women in that era around the nineteenth century, a time when reformers like Ram Mohan Roy started focusing on the plight of women and the concerned issues.
Various great Indian women rose up against the British injustice not only for themselves but for the love of their motherland. They understood that only the end of the British rule and a foundation of an independent free India can lead to a prosperous future of the nation. Innumerable great Indian female fighters happily laid their lives for the nation. Hereby, we pay a tribute to 7 of the greatest female freedom fighters who have made an unforgettable contribution to the Indian freedom struggle.
Rani Lakshmi Bai
A lady of fierce courage, a fighter and a role model for all, Rani lakshmibai paved the way for many Indian women and showed them that battles are fought with courage and not only with armours. Rani Lakshmi Bai, stood bravely against the Britishers and fought for her country and its pride. Rani Lakshmi Bai defended her ruling city of Jhansi against the Britishers after her husband Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao died in 1853. She was named as the “most dangerous of Indian leaders of that time” by Hugh Rose, a British loyal. Even at the time of her death, she ordered for her body to be cremated instead of handing it over to the British. Tales of her heroism and courage inspired and encouraged many other women of that time to take part in the freedom struggle.
Widely regarded as the “shiny start of India”, Sarojini Naidu was an avid poet and an Indian independence activist who contributed significantly to the Indian National Movement in the early days of Bengal partition in 1905. She was even arrested during the “Quit India” movement in the year 1942 and was in jail with Mahatma Gandhi for 21 months. Her work was appreciated during the plague epidemic in India and she was awarded with the Hind Kesari medal by the British government. She served as the president of Congress in the annual session at Cawnpore in the year 1925. She also presided over the East African Indian Congress in South Africa.
She was a well renowned freedom fighter and a Gandhi follower. At the tender age of 8, she participated in her first protest march under Mahatma Gandhi and shouted her first freedom slogan of “Simon Go Back”. Her love for the country and her undying urge to participate in the freedom struggle took her from being one of the top 25 students of her college to join the “Quit India” movement and put an end to her studies and finally contribute to her country full time. In the year 1942, she began the secret Congress Radio which broadcasted important messages from prominent leaders like Gandhi from all across the nation.
Kittur Rani Chennamma
The queen of the princely state of Kittur in Karnataka, she is regarded as one of the first fighters of India who led an armed rebellion force against the British government forces in the early 1825, way before the actual freedom movement started in 1857. She was a trained fighter and had received training in horse riding, sword fighting and archery. Rani Chennamma of Kittur shared similar instances with Rani Lakshmi Bai where the British government denied the acceptance of her adopted son as an heir to the throne. Although, Rani chennamma was born 56 years before Rani Laxshmi Bai.
Savitribai Jyotirao Phule was a renowned social reformer who played a pivotal role in the improvement of living standard of Indian women during the British rule in India. Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, her husband backed her efforts all throughout. Considered as a pioneer of modern Marathi poetry, Savitribai Phule was also the first women teacher of the very first women’s school of India. She started a pioneer movement by opening a school for the untouchables in 1852. Regarded as the most well-known social reformers of the pre independence fight of India, she is most widely known for her efforts towards educating the downtrodden sections of the society especially the untouchables.
Begum Hazrat Mahal
Begum Hazrat Mahal was a lady who had everything, a startling beauty, a begum to the Nawab of Awadh, Wajid-Ali-Shah and a luxurious royal life. Fate turned against her when her husband The Nawab of Awadh was sent to exile in Calcutta. Then with all her courage and leadership qualities, she took over the charge of state affairs of Awadh. She was against the British government ways of demolishing mosques and temples to make way for roads. She led a band of her supporters against the British led the East India Company and even won in seizing the control of Lucknow in the year 1857-1858.
Aruna Asaf Ali
Aruna Asaf Ali was an Indian freedom activist and is widely remembered as the lady who hoisted the Indian flag during the Quit India movement in the year 1942 at Gowalia Tank Maidan. She also participated in processions during the very famous salt satyagraha. While she was prisoned in Tihar jail, she also fought for the inequality amongst the prisoners in the jail through a hunger strike. This led to significant improvements in the Tihar jail.
These and many more Indian women have shown the world that during the independence war, not only men but women also gave everything they had for the freedom of their motherland and the betterment of the future generations.
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