Karol Bagh | IAS GS Foundation Course | 29 May, 6 PM Call Us
This just in:

State PCS

Daily Updates

Indian History

Women Heroes of India's Freedom Struggle

  • 18 Aug 2022
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Nari Shakti, Indian Freedom Struggle, Rani Laxmibai, Jhalkari Bai, Durga Bhabhi, Rani Gaidinliu, Begum Hazrat Mahal

For Mains: Contribution of Women in Indian Freedom Struggle

Why in News?

Recently, Prime Minister in his Independence Day Speech paid tribute to women freedom fighters.

Role of Women in Freedom Struggle
Name Contribution in Freedom Struggle

Rani Laxmibai

  • The queen of the princely state of Jhansi, Rani Laxmibai is known for her role in the First War of India’s Independence in 1857.
  • Born Manikarnika Tambe in 1835, she married the king of Jhansi.
  • The couple adopted Damodar Rao as her son before the king’s death, which the British East India Company refused to accept as the legal heir in accordance with the Doctrine of lapse and decided to annex Jhansi.
    • The Doctrine of Lapse was an annexation policy followed widely by Lord Dalhousie when he was India's Governor-General from 1848 to 1856.
  • Refusing to cede her territory, the queen decided to rule on behalf of the heir and later joined the uprising against the British in 1857.
  • Under General Hugh Rose, the East India Company’s forces had begun their counteroffensive in Bundelkhand by January 1858.
  • She single-handedly fought with the British, riding on a horse, tying Damodar Rao behind her back.
  • She conquered the fort of Gwalior with the help of Tatya Tope and Nana Saheb.
  • Cornered by the British, she escaped from Jhansi fort. She was wounded in combat near Gwalior’s Phool Bagh, where she later died.

Jhalkari Bai

  • A soldier in Rani Laxmibai’s women’s army, Durga Dal, rose to become one of the queen’s most trusted advisers.
  • She is known for putting her own life at risk to keep the queen out of harm’s way.
  • Till date, the story of her valor is recalled by the people of Bundelkhand, and she is often presented as a representative of Bundeli identity.
  • Many Dalit communities of the region look up to her as an incarnation of God and also celebrate Jhalkaribai Jayanti every year in her honour.

Durga Bhabhi

  • Durgawati Devi, who was popularly known as Durga Bhabhi, was a revolutionary who joined the armed struggle against colonial rule.
  • A member of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, she helped Bhagat Singh escape in disguise from Lahore after the 1928 killing of British police officer John P Saunders.
  • During the train journey that followed, Durgawati and Bhagat Singh posed as a couple and Rajguru as their servant.
    • Later, as revenge for the hanging of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev, she made an unsuccessful attempt to kill the former Punjab Governor, Lord Hailey.
  • Born in Allahabad in 1907 and married to Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) member Bhagwati Charan Vohra, Durgawati, along with other revolutionaries, also ran a bomb factory in Delhi.

Rani Gaidinliu

  • Born in 1915 in present-day Manipur, Rani Gaidinliu was a Naga spiritual and political leader who fought the British.
  • She joined the Heraka religious movement which later became a movement to drive out the British.
  • She rebelled against the Empire and refused to pay taxes, asking people to do the same.
  • The British launched a manhunt, but she evaded arrest, moving from village to village.
  • Gaidinliu was finally arrested in 1932 when she was just 16 and later sentenced for life.
  • She was released in 1947.
  • Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru described Gaidinliu as the “daughter of the hills”, and gave her the title of ‘Rani’ for her courage.

Begum Hazrat Mahal

  • After her husband, Nawab of Awadh Wajid Ali Shah was exiled after the 1857 revolt, Begum Hazrat Mahal, along with her supporters, took on the British and wrested control of Lucknow. She was forced into a retreat after the colonial rulers recaptured the area.

Velu Nachiyar

  • Many years before the revolt of 1857, Velu Nachiyar waged a war against the British and emerged victorious.
  • Born in Ramanathapuram in 1780, she was married to the king of Sivagangai.
  • After her husband was killed in battle with the East India Company, she entered the conflict, and won with support of neighbouring kings.
  • She went on to produce the first human bomb as well as establish the first army of trained women soldiers in the late 1700s.
  • Her army commander Kuyili is believed to have set herself ablaze and walked into a British ammunition dump.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. With reference to Indian freedom struggle, Usha Mehta is well-known for (2011)

(a) Running the secret Congress Radio in the wake of Quit India Movement
(b) Participating in the Second Round Table Conference
(c) Leading a contingent of Indian National Army
(d) Assisting in the formation of Interim Government under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Ans: (a)


  • Usha Mehta was one of the most prominent Gandhians in India. Born in 1920 in Surat (Gujarat), she joined the freedom struggle when she was just eight years old, when she marched against the Simon Commission.
  • On 14th August 1942, Mehta along with her associates started the secret Congress Radio. The radio broadcasted the voice messages of Gandhi and several other leaders to the public. The station changed its place after every broadcast to avoid capture by the government. The secret radio was also assisted by veteran socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia. Therefore, option (a) is the correct answer

Source: IE

SMS Alerts
Share Page