Durgawati Devi

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Durgavati Devi
Born (1907-10-07)7 October 1907
Died 15 October 1999(1999-10-15) (aged 92)
Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
Organization Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, Naujawan Bharat Sabha
Movement Indian independence movement
Religion Hinduism
Spouse(s) Bhagwati Charan Vohra
Children Sachindra Vohra

Durgavati Devi (Durga Bhabhi) (7 October 1907 – 15 October 1999) was an Indian revolutionary and a freedom fighter. She was one of the few women revolutionaries who took an active participation in armed revolution against the ruling British Raj. She is best known for having accompanied Bhagat Singh on the train journey in which he made his escape in disguise after the Saunders killing,[1] Since she was wife of another HSRA member Bhagwati Charan Vohra, other members of HSRA referred her as 'Bhabhi' (elder brother's wife) and became popular as "Durga Bhabhi" in Indian revolutionary circles. Durga was a Bengali and her mother tongue was Bengali.


Durgavati Devi, originally a Bengali, was married to Bhagwati Charan Vohra when she was aged eleven.

An active member of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Durga came into prominence when the Sabha decided to observe the 11th anniversary of Kartar Singh Sarabha’s martyrdom on 16 November 1926 at Lahore. Her most glorious moment came on 19 December 1928 when Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev Thapar went to her house two days after killing Saunders.

She led the funeral procession of Jatindra Nath Das from Lahore to Calcutta after his death in the 63-day jail hunger strike. All along the way, huge crowds joined the funeral procession.[1]

Revolutionary activities[edit]

After Bhagat Singh surrendered himself for the 1929 Assembly bomb throwing incident, Devi attempted to assassinate Lord Hailey; he escaped, but many of his associates died. She was caught by the police and imprisoned for three years. She had also sold her ornaments worth Rs. 3,000 to rescue Bhagat Singh and his comrades under trial.[citation needed]

Devi, along with her husband, helped Vimal Prasad Jain, a HSRA member, in running a bomb factory named 'Himalayan Toilets' (a smokescreen to hide the agenda of making bombs) at Qutub Road, Delhi. In this factory, they handled picric acid, nitroglycerine and fulminate of mercury.[citation needed] This is currently a contentious fact - the archived 'Devi' in question could have been Sushila Devi, and not Durga Devi.[2]

Two days after killing Saunders, on 19 December 1928, Sukhdev called on Durga for help, which she agreed to do. They decided to catch the train departing from Lahore for Bathinda en route to Howrah (Calcutta) early the next morning. She posed herself as the wife of Bhagat Singh and put her son Sachin in his lap while Rajguru carried their luggage as their servant. To avoid recognition, Singh had shaved off his beard and cut his hair short the previous day and dressed in a western attire. In fact, when Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev came to her house on the night of 19 December 1928, Sukhdev introduced Bhagat Singh as a new friend. Durga could not recognise Bhagat Singh at all. Then Sukhdev told Durga the truth and said that if Durga Bhabhi could not recognise Bhagat Singh in his changed clean-shaved appearance despite knowing him well, surely the police would not recognise him as they would be looking for a bearded Sikh.[citation needed]

They left the house early the next morning. At the station, Bhagat Singh, with his concealed identity, bought three tickets to Cawnpore (Kanpur)  — two first class tickets for Bhabhi and himself and a third class one for Rajguru. Both men had loaded revolvers with them to deal with any unanticipated incident. They avoided raising the suspicions of the police and boarded the train.[3] Breaking journey at Kanpur, they boarded a train for Lucknow since the CID at Howrah railway station usually scrutinised passengers on the direct train from Lahore. At Lucknow, Rajguru left separately for Benares while Bhagat Singh, Durga Bhabhi and the infant went to Howrah. Durga returned to Lahore a few days later with her infant child.[4]

Later life[edit]

Unlike other freedom fighters, after Indian independence Durga started living as a common citizen in quite anonymity and exclusion in Ghaziabad. She later opened a school for poor children in Lucknow. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited her school in 1956.

Durga died in Ghaziabad on 15 October 1999 at the age of 92.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Tribune...Sunday Reading". Tribuneindia.com. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Jain, Simmi (2003). Encyclopaedia of Indian Women Through The Ages (1 ed.). Delhi: Gyan Publishing House. p. 107. ISBN 9788178351742. Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Parkash, Chander (23 March 2011). "National Monument Status Eludes Building". The Tribune (India). Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Bakshi, S. R. (1988). Revolutionaries and the British Raj. Atlantic Publishers. p. 61. 

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