Durga Bhabhi's Contribution to Revolutionary Movement

Bharat Dogra

Durga Devi was born in Allahabad. She was known for her courage even in earlier days and this quality had ample opportunities for flowering after her marriage to Bhagvati Charan Vohra. Her husband came from a prosperous family but his heart and mind were entirely with revolutionary youths and their emerging leaders like Bhagat Singh. Durga fully accepted this new role with all its challenges.

They were living in Lahore which was a base for young revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev. Several revolutionary youths visited their home. Durga was very hospitable towards them and they soon started calling her Durga Bhabhi. This name struck to her throughout her life.

An emergency situation soon appeared. The police was looking for Bhagat Singh and he had to escape to Calcutta. So it was arranged that Bhagat Singh will pose as a westernised, high class Indian while Durga will travel with son Shachi as his wife. Rajguru, another revolutionary for whom a frantic search was on, will travel as their servant.

This escape from Lahore has become legendary and several stories are told about this. Durga Bhabhi played an important role in the successful execution of this escape. She had the additional responsibility of keeping her small son Shachi under control so that he would not unwittingly say anything which could draw suspicion to them.

When Bhagat Singh was imprisoned, plans were made for his jail escape. Durga was again a part of these efforts. Unfortunately, due to some accidents these efforts could not succeed.

In one of these accidents Durga's husband Bhagwati Charan Vohra died. He had been a selfless, dedicated and courageous revolutionary for several years. Durga's personal distress was deep, but still she continued to take part in revolutionary activities, including a very difficult assignment in Bombay.

By now the police was on a big look-out for Durga and it was becoming very difficult for her to hide her identity. Difficulties were increasing day by day. She had to seek shelter here and there, changing her place of hiding time and again to avoid being arrested.

She could somehow escape to Lucknow where she tried to find a new identity in the mainstream freedom movement, educational work and various social initiatives. In her old age she came to Ghaziabad to spend her last days with her son Shachindra, the same Shachi with whom she had escaped from Lahore to Calcutta in 1928.

Many-sided contributions of Durga Bhabhi to the freedom movement are still remembered with pride and inspiration.

The writer is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements and initiatives.     

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Nov 25, 2019

Bharat Dogra

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