We continue on our journey to learn about the Partition 1947 | Remembering South Asian Women Partisans & Freedom Fighters, for those who missed, click part I. South Asian women in 1800 and early 1900s worked side by side with men to free us from the shackles of slavery into liberated nations.
7. Aruna Asaf Ali otherwise known as The Heroine of 1942 Movement and in later years, the Grand Lady of the Independence Movement is one of the most important figures. Of Bengali Brahmo origins she but married a Muslim despite opposition and joined him into cutthroat political movements to free India. She hoisted the Indian National Congress Flag at Gowalia Tank Maidan in 1942. A teacher, politician and newspaper publisher, she was sent to jail on grounds of being a vagrant. Her release came after a huge public agitation by both her female jailed political workers and the Indian public. For her life long struggle for India’s glory, she has been conferred Indian and international awards of the highest merit.
8. Bhima Bai Holkar was the princess of Indore Kingdom and defended her Kingdom from British conquest. At the Battle of Mahidpur, she led a brigade of 2,500 cavalry, sword and lance in hand, into the battle ground against the British troops that were four times more in number. It is believed that her act of taking the role of a soldier inspired Jhansi Queen and other Kingdoms into mutiny and battle against the British East India Company.
9. Nishat Un Nisa Begum was an active participant of the movement, she was the public relations officer for her husband and after he was jailed, she continued her services into the Pakistan Movement. She was known for taking charge of literary projects in Aligarh and managed a freedom movement magazine circulation in those tough times.
10. Mahrani Jindan Kaur otherwise known as the Rebel Queen was the last Queen of the Sikhs of Lahore, capital of the princely kingdom Punjab is remembered for her two wars against the British conquest. Despite making some strategic errors, she was responsible for being termed the greatest enemy of British to have ever lived in the 19 century, let alone just Indian or Sikh history. British held on the opinion that Mahrani Jindan was the greatest obstacle that faced their rule in India. They maligned her public image to the likes of “a seductress too rebellious to be controlled” whereas she refused to cooperate with them despite her imprisonment. Queen Jindan disguised as a servant and escaped her prison to head into Nepal from where she sent the British a letter where she taunted at their inability to stop her from using ‘magic’ to escape. Despite being separated from her son, the young ruler of her state she was able to reunite in later years.
11. Zulekha Begum the wife of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, an important figure in Pakistan Movement was a courageous lady who despite her husband’s jail and economic crisis continued to work for the liberation from British. After her husband got one year jail, she sent a letter to Mahatma Gandhi ji stating “My husband got one year imprisonment. This is less that our expectation because if it is the result of his devotion to the nation then he did not get justice; it is less for his eligibility. From today on I will take on the whole work of Bengal Khilafat Committee.’
12. Padma Naidu joined the Indian National Congress at the mere age of 20 and was jailed for her active participation in the Quit India Movement unrest against the British Raj. After independence, she was the Governor of West Bengal and associated in humanitarian work with the International Red Cross, she also remained the Chair of Indian Red Cross for an entire tenure working on assisting the aftermath of the 1971 war between Pakistan and India.
These names are drops into an ocean in terms of women participation into the freedom movement of subcontinent. The history of the freedom movement is incomplete without the mention of invaluable services of women like Asghari Begum who fought the British and after defeat was burnt alive, others like Habiba and Rahimi who were captured and hanged in public.
Historians continue compiling the data consisting of more than several thousand south asian women hailing from all parts of the sub continent, of all age groups, of all castes, religions and ethnicities that were killed into the battles for gaining freedom from colonial masters.
The services of these women, some mothers, others sisters, wives or daughters should not be forgotten for their acts of valor and bravery and their stand with the South Asian men in true history defining moments.
Let’s honor and salute the South Asian Women Partisans & Freedom Fighters for their invaluable services for the birth of two nations India and Pakistan, may their glory shine upon our futures.