Bishwa Nath Singh
Can we recollect one who was that great Indian independence activist widely remembered for hoisting the Congress flag at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Bombay, ( now known as Mumbai) during the Quit India. Movement in 1942 and was elected as the first Mayor of Delhi in 1958 and who had distinction to be awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize in 1964 and the country’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1997 ? She was none else than Aruna Asaf Ali.
(Photo of Aruna Asaf Ali)
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Bishwa Nath Singh :
Aruna Asaf Ali was born on July 16, 1909, was an Indian independence activist. She is widely remembered for hoisting the Congress flag at the Gowalia Tank maidan in Bombay, during the Quit India.Aruna Asaf Ali was born at Kalka, Punjab. Her... father name was Upendranath Ganguly addressed from Eastern Bengal was a restaurant owner and her Mother Ambalika Devi. Aruna Asaf Ali was educated at Lahore and Nainital. She worked as a teacher, she taught at the Gokhale Memorial School, where built in Calcutta. She met Asaf Ali, he is the leader in the congress party at Allahabad, and in 1928 she married Asaf Ali. After Marriage She became an active member of Congress Party and participated in public processions at the time of Salt Satyagraha. She was arrested on the charge that she was a vagrant She participated in the Salt Satyagraha. She was held prisoner at the Tihar Jail in 1932 where she protested the shabby treatment meted out to prisoners by launching a hunger strike. Thereafter she was moved to Ambala and put in solitary confinement. The AICC had passed the Quit India resolution at the Bombay session in 1942. The government responded by arresting all members of the Congress Committee and hence tried to approach the movement from success. Aruna Asaf Ali raised the Congress flag at the Gowalia Tank maidan. For that reason the police fired upon the assembly at the session. She was dubbed the Heroine of the 1942 movement for her bravery in the face of danger and was called Grand Old Lady of the Independence movement in her later years. Despite absence of direct leadership, demonstrations and spontaneous protests were held all over the country, as an expression of desire of India’s youth to achieve independence.She played a crucial role during Quit India Movement, She was a member of the Congress Socialist Party, a group within the Congress Party for activists with socialist leanings. She was disillusioned with the progress of Congress party on socialism and joined a new party, Socialist Party in 1948. She did not stay in that party for long and joined the CPI(Communist Party of India). She helped found the National Federation of Indian Women, the women's wing of CPI in 1954. This remarkable lady was elected as the first Mayor of Delhi in 1958. She rejoined the Congress Party in 1964 but did not take part in active politics. An arrest warrant was issued in her name but she went underground to evade the arrest. Her property was seized and sold. In the meanwhile, she also edited Inquilab, a monthly magazine of the Congress Party, along with Ram Manohar Lohia. In a 1944 issue, she exhorted youth to action by asking them to forget futile discussions about violence and non-violence and join the revolution. Leaders such as Jayaprakash Narayan and Aruna Asaf Ali were described as "the Political children of Gandhi but recent students of Karl Marx." The government announced a reward of Rs. 5,000/- for her capture. She fell ill and was for a period hiding in Dr Joshi's Hospital in Karol Bagh in Delhi. Mahatma Gandhi sent her a hand-written note to her to come out of hiding and surrender herself – as her mission was accomplished and as she could utilize the reward amount for the Harijan cause. However, she came out of hiding only after the warrant against her was withdrawn in 1946. She treasured the note from the Mahatma and it adorned her drawing room. However, she also faced criticism from Gandhi for her support of the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny, a movement she saw as the single greatest unifying factor of Hindus and Muslims at a time that was the peak of the movement for Pakistan.She became as Delhi first Mayor, In 1958 Aruna Asaf Ali was well known for her Spartan lifestyle she used public transport. At the age of 80, once she was travelling in a crowded bus in Delhi and there is no seat was vacant. After some time a beautiful young lady boarded the bus and a gentleman trying to impress her, vacated his seat. That lady offered the seat to Aruna Asaf Ali. At that, the man complains, saying to the lady, "I vacated that seat for your sake, sister." Aruna Asaf Ali answered with her quick wit, "Never mind, mother always comes before sister." In 1964, she rejoined the Congress Party but stopped taking part in active politics. Despite reservations about the emergency, she remained close to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi She received many awards during her lifetime. She was awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize in 1964 and the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1997. This great freedom fighter passed away on July 29, 1996. In 1998, a stamp commemorating her was issued. Aruna Asaf Ali marg in New Delhi was named in her honor. All India Minorities Front distributes the Dr Aruna Asaf Ali Sadbhawana Award annually. Let us join to pay our humble obeisance to the lotus feet of this great freedom fighter and pay our respectful homage to her!