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
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 actively participated 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 the wife of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) member Bhagwati Charan Vohra, other members of HSRA referred to her as Bhabhi (elder brother's wife) and became popular as "Durga Bhabhi" in Indian revolutionary circles. Durgavati Devi was a Bengali woman and her mother tongue was Bengali.

Life[edit]

Durgavati Devi was married to Bhagwati Charan Vohra when she was aged eleven.

An active member of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Devi came into prominence when the Sabha decided to observe the 11th anniversary of Kartar Singh Sarabha’s martyrdom on 16 November 1926 in Lahore. Devi was instrumental in assisting Bhagat Singh and Shivaram Rajguru escape after the killing of J. P. 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]

Two days after killing Saunders, on 19 December 1928, Sukhdev called on Devi 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. Devi could not recognise Bhagat Singh at all. Then Sukhdev told Devi the truth and said that if Devi 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 Devi 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. 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, Devi and the infant went to Howrah. Devi returned to Lahore a few days later with her infant child.[2]

Later life[edit]

Unlike other freedom fighters, after Indian independence Durga started living as a common citizen in quiet anonymity and exclusion in Ghaziabad. She later opened a school for poor children in Lucknow.

Durga died in Ghaziabad on 15 October 1999 at the age of 92.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Tribune...Sunday Reading". Tribuneindia.com. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Bakshi, S. R. (1988). Revolutionaries and the British Raj. Atlantic Publishers. p. 61. 

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