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Sunday, December 4, 2016

tragic story of a valiant women who once fought alongside Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose

A Nation must remember its martyrs who gave its freedom.  We became independent in 1947 and 69 years have rolled since.   There have been many unsung heroes – slowly we are losing generation which fought or witnessed the Freedom struggle ~ sometimes the news that we read in media about them are heart-rending.  Incidentally, this particular newsitem could be seen in all main Tamil dailies, while I could not find the same in English versions !

Movie is only a form of entertainment, yet there are some films / some scenes that move us. Shankar directed ‘Indian’ [Bharatheeyudu] was a good film.  To many the hero was not the young Kamal but the older Indian Senapathy. The flashback in black & white really takes up to older times, especially the footage of the great Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose.  The story shows Senapathi as a young valiant fighter joining  Bose’s army with the full support of his wife Amirthavalli. The handful of Nation’s soil to be smeared on forehead daily is poetic.  Senapathi gets captured,  survives the brutalities and comes to back in free India riddled with corruption, and he fights that !!

Manikarnika was married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, in May 1842.  Their son Damodar Rao, died early.  Maharaja adopted a child called Anand Rao, the son of Gangadhar Rao's cousin, who was renamed Damodar Rao, on the day before the Maharaja died. The adoption was in the presence of the British political officer who was given a letter from the Maharaja instructing that the child be treated with respect and that the government of Jhansi should be given to his widow for her lifetime. After the death of the Maharaja in Nov 1853, because it was an adopted son, British East India Company, under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, applied the Doctrine of Lapse, rejecting Damodar Rao's claim to the throne and annexing the state to its territories. In March 1854, Lakshmibai was given an annual pension and  ordered to leave the palace and the fort.  She fought valiantly against the British and came to be hailed as ‘Jhansi Rani’ is history.

Nethaji had a regiment named after the legendary fighter. The Rani of Jhansi Regiment was the Women's Regiment of the Indian National Army, the armed force formed by Indian nationalists in 1942 in Southeast Asia with the aim of overthrowing the British Raj in colonial India, with Japanese assistance. It was one of the very few all-female combat regiments of the Second World War on any side. Led by Captain Lakshmi Swaminathan (better known as Lakshmi Sahgal), the unit was raised in July 1943 with volunteers from the expatriate Indian population in South East Asia.

The news is about the death of 90 year old woman, ordinary as it might appear – but for the fact that Mrs M Govindammal, is no ordinary women. 

Going by Tamil paper reports [Dinamalar / Hindu Tamil / One India] – at Ambur, Govindammal passed away at 90. The reports put that she was once a Captain of INA.  She occasioned to visit Malaysia in 1927 as her father went there in search of a job.  

Govindammal studied 8th standard and after married Mr Arunachalam, a worker in rubber plantations.  In 1943, when Nethaji spoke in Malacca province, she was so moved that she handed over 6 Sov of gold and donated 1 acre rubber garden too to TNA.  At age of 16, she joined INA and underwent training under Bose. 

She rose to become a leaer of 1000 women strong force and fought many battles. After Indian Independence, she came back to India from Malaysia, and settled in Ambur in 1949.  Her husband passed away in 1960.  The latter part of the story is too tragic.

She continued her rest of life as a coolie and maintained her family of 4 girl children and a son.  She got  Govt pension as martyr, but the money was not enough for the family as they lived in chill penury. Old age and poverty continued and she passed away at Ambur.  Sad indeed.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

3rd Dec 2016.

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