War and battle or any sort of political conflict has always been a domain for masculine domination. When we read the history of our country’s struggle for freedom, it’s always the men we talk or read of. Women are made invisible completely and their contributions are hardly remembered. Apart from a few iconic and famous women politicians, there have been several ordinary women who have vociferously contributed to physical battles, no matter how small in scale for the pursuit of sovereignty and political independence. We talk of some such women in our penultimate article for Women’s History Month.
During the 1857 rebellion, Uda Devi climbed up a banyan tree disguised as a man, opened fire on the British Army and killed 32 of its soldiers. Even the British were surprised when they got to know that such a huge number of casualties were caused by a woman.
Everyone can recall the names of Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan who planned the Kakori conspiracy where they robbed a train which carried money bags of the British Government Treasury. However, Rajkumari Gupta, the woman who supplied guns and pistols for Kakori robbery, hardly finds a mention in the pages of history. She was later caught with hidden arms and was also abandoned by her own in laws.
Rani Velu Nachiyar
There have been many stories of how bombs were made within the confines of the house to fight the British, but no one talks of Rani Velu Nachiyar, who is believed to have planned the first-ever suicide attack in India to disarm the British. It was back in 1780 that the Queen of the Tamil kingdom of Shivagangai, formed her own army to win back her kingdom from British rule. It is believed that when Rani Velu Nachiyar got to know where the British had stored their ammunitions and weapons, her adopted daughter Kuyili drenched herself in oil and set herself on fire to destroy the ammunitions stored in the British storehouse.
Tara Rani Srivastava
Tara Rani Srivastava did not deter from continuing the fight despite seeing her husband shot at in front of her eyes. When her husband Phulendu Babu led a group to hoist the tricolour on the roof of the Siwan police station, he was shot at and fell to the ground. Tara Rani bandaged his wounds and went marching towards the police station. When she came back to him, she saw that she had lost him to his injuries.
We have forever discarded the contributions of women to history. It’s high time we start rewriting our own.