Captain Lakshmi Sahgal (1914 - 2012) - A Life of Struggle

By: DoYouKnow.IN | Views: 1218 | Date: 23-Jul-2012

Lakshmi Sahgal was born Lakshmi Swaminadhan on October 24, 1914 in Madras to S. Swaminadhan, a talented lawyer, and A.V. Ammukutty, a social worker and freedom fighter (and who would later be a member of independent India’s Constituent Assembly).

Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday condoled the death of freedom fighter Captain Lakshmi Sahgal, saying that the nation has lost an icon of selfless service.

Mr Ansari described Mrs Sahgal as a noted freedom fighter and tireless campaigner for women’s rights and social causes. He said he was deeply grieved by her demise.

In his condolence message, the Prime Minister said, "In the passing away of Shrimati Lakshmi Sahgal the nation has lost an icon of liberal values and selfless service".

Mr Ansari said, "Captain Lakshmi Sahgal represents the pinnacle of sacrifice and struggle for the country, and for the rights of the downtrodden and women. Her contribution in public life in politics, the trade union movement and the women’s movement are remembered by one and all".

He said that Mrs Sahgal’s compassion, concern and commitment towards humanity manifested in all her efforts and activities and this has inspired many to emulate her.

"Her demise is a tremendous loss to the nation," he said. 97-year-old Lakshmi Sahgal, who was a part of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, died in Kanpur today.

Captain Lakshmi Sahgal Photo

FEW QUOTES FROM CAPTAIN LAKSHMI SAHGAL

“The fight will go on,” said Captain Lakshmi Sahgal one day in 2006, sitting in her crowded Kanpur clinic where, at 92, she still saw patients every morning. She was speaking on camera to Singeli Agnew, a young filmmaker from the Graduate School of Journalism, Berkeley, who was making a documentary on her life.

Each stage of the life of this extraordinary Indian represented a new stage of her political evolution – as a young medical student drawn to the freedom struggle; as the leader of the all-woman Rani of Jhansi regiment of the Indian National Army; as a doctor, immediately after Independence, who restarted her medical practice in Kanpur amongst refugees and the most marginalised sections of society; and finally, in post-Independence India, her life as a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), years that saw her in campaigns for political, economic and social justice.

“Freedom comes in three forms,” the diminutive doctor goes on to say on camera in her unadorned and direct manner. “The first is political emancipation from the conqueror, the second is economic [emancipation] and the third is social… India has only achieved the first.”

First rebellion

Lakshmi Sahgal was born Lakshmi Swaminadhan on October 24, 1914 in Madras to S. Swaminadhan, a talented lawyer, and A.V. Ammukutty, a social worker and freedom fighter (and who would later be a member of independent India’s Constituent Assembly).

CPI(M) activist

By the early 1970s, Lakshmi’s daughter Subhashini had joined the CPI(M). She brought to her mother’s attention an appeal from Jyoti Basu for doctors and medical supplies for Bangladeshi refugee camps. Captain Lakshmi left for Calcutta, carrying clothes and medicines, to work for the next five weeks in the border areas. After her return she applied for membership in the CPI(M). For the 57-year old doctor, joining the Communist Party was “like coming home.” “My way of thinking was already communist, and I never wanted to earn a lot of money, or acquire a lot of property or wealth,” she said.

Captain Lakshmi was one of the founding members of AIDWA, formed in 1981. She subsequently led many of its activities and campaigns. After the Bhopal gas tragedy in December 1984, she led a medical team to the city; years later she wrote a report on the long-term effects of the gas on pregnant women. During the anti-Sikh riots that followed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, she was out on the streets in Kanpur, confronting anti-Sikh mobs and ensuring that no Sikh or Sikh establishment in the crowded area near her clinic was attacked. She was arrested for her participation in a campaign by AIDWA against the Miss World competition held in Bangalore in 1996.

With Captain Lakshmi’s passing, India has lost an indefatigable fighter for the emancipations of which she spoke.

DISCLAIMER: Taken from various News sites

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