The Two Revolutionaries to be Remembered
Bhagwati Charan Vohra & Sushila Didi

Bharat Dogra

Bhagwati Charan Vohra

Bhagwati Charan Vohra was one of the most dedicated revolutionary freedom fighters of India. While some of his close colleagues like Bhagat Singh and Chandra Shekhar Azad became a legend in their life time and the country has cherished their memory ever since then, somehow Bhagwati Charan Vohra did not become so well known. Of course his name is taken with respect whenever the revolutionary movement is discussed, but still his many-sided contributions deserve wider recognition.

In his early activities we find him playing a many-sided role of helping young revolutionaries in Punjab like Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev. As he had relatively better circumstances at that time, having inherited some wealth, his house in Lahore used to be a place where many revolutionaries could meet and were well looked after. He contributed at an intellectual level as well as at action level.

His wife Durga was not only a very brave woman but in addition she also shared his passion for sacrificing her all for the freedom movement. Hence both Bhagwati and Durga (together with their small son Shachi) were drawn more and more into the freedom movement.

Bhagwati Charan was known as a selfless person who was willing to take up any hazardous or difficult work for the sake of his party and the freedom movement. His encouragement was a strong motivating force which led Durga to take up many difficult and daring activities.

Even when after several revolutionaries had been arrested, Bhagwati Charan had managed to evade arrest. He was involved in daring plans for arranging the escape of Bhagat Singh and some other revolutionaries from prison. However, this plan could not succeed.

One of the hazardous acts in which Bhagwati Charan was involved was the testing of some bombs. It was in the course of this work in Punjab that Bhagwati Charan met a serious accident and died. Thus, this brave freedom fighter died very suddenly at a very young age which also proved to a big setback for the plans for the prison-escape of other freedom fighters. His many-sided contributions to the freedom movement need to be known and recognised at a much wider level.

Sushila Didi

If we look at the activities of revolutionary freedom fighters during the 1920s and early 1930s, Sushila Didi appears at many places in different roles. She was born in 1905 in the family of a military medical officer who was inclined towards the freedom movement. Sushila inherited her commitment for the freedom movement form him. Her mother died at a young age and as the eldest child Sushila had to take up a lot of responsibilities of bringing up her younger sisters and brothers.

She wrote a song on Lala Lajpat Rai's martyrdom which was circulated very widely. She first met Bhagat Singh and his comrades in Dehradun where they gave her some pamphlets for distribution in Jalandhar. Sushila's mother had left some gold ornaments for her marriage. When she heard about the death sentence given to Kakori case freedom fighters, she sold these ornaments and donated this money for the legal case of Kakori case revolutionaries.

Sushila took up a job of teaching at a rich man's household in Calcutta, gained their confidence and then used this house as a shelter for some revolutionaries (including Bhagat Singh). She formed a group of women freedom fighters and surprised Subhash Chandra Bose with their bold presence in the frontline of freedom movement demonstrations in Calcutta.

When some revolutionaries including Bhagat Singh were imprisoned in Delhi, Sushila also moved in Delhi to help in plans to arrange an escape for Bhagat Singh and others. But these plans could not succeed. In this phase for some time Sushila had to change her identity and lived as a Sikh man to hide her real identity.

As the police was now on look-out for her in a big way, she had to change her place of stay several times in Calcutta, Lahore, Kanpur and Allahabad. At the same time when she got an opportunity, she participated in Congress led freedom movement, giving her identity as Indumati and even served a 6-month jail sentence under the identity of Indumati. Later she married Shyam Mohan, a supporter of the revolutionary movement who had also helped her in avoiding the police.

In her later days she involved herself in Congress-related work and in educational work, establishing a new institution in Ballimaran, Delhi. She left for heavenly abode in 1963. Her immense contributions to the freedom movement will always be a source of great inspiration.

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Mar 23, 2020

Bharat Dogra

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