The annals of India’s struggle for freedom harbour untold stories of women warriors whose gallantry remains obscured. In the summer of 1857, amidst the fervour to shake off colonial shackles, peasant women from Muzaffarnagar and Shamli rallied into armed battalions, facing the English forces head-on. Delhi witnessed a woman leading irregular civilian forces against the colonial army, ultimately immolating herself in pursuing liberty.
History praises Kasturba Gandhi as Mahatma Gandhi’s devoted wife, but her leading role in mass movements during his incarceration is overlooked. This gender bias affects many female freedom fighters, whose struggles are sidelined in favour of their male counterparts.
Notably, Rani of Jhansi and Begum Hazrat Mahal’s contributions during the 1857 uprising have received recognition. However, history remains silent on the exploits of countless other women revolutionaries. For instance, Rani of Jhansi’s partnership with a Muslim woman friend, fighting alongside her, is rarely acknowledged. Women not only commanded artillery units at Jhansi but were instrumental in working the batteries and providing ammunition, defying gender norms.
These overlooked heroines encompass a woman in a green burqa who inspired and fought alongside the masses against the English army in Delhi. Her audacious acts of courage earned her comparison to Joan of Arc. Saadat Bano, wife of Jallianwala Bagh hero Saifuddin Kitchlew, was a notable writer and activist. Her pre-marital contributions are overlooked. Similarly, Amjadi Begum and Nishat un Nisa Begum’s impactful roles in fundraising and Congress sessions are obscured by familial ties.
Time to spotlight fearless women who defied norms, risking all for India’s freedom. Their courage and sacrifice belong in history alongside their male counterparts in the struggle for independence.
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