The Indian freedom movement had people from all walks of life and all corners of the country participate. However, there are innumerable instances that have been overlooked or remained as footnotes in history books. One such story is that of Tara Rani Srivastava.
Tara Rani Srivastava hailed from a humble background. Born into a simple family in the district of Saran, near Patna, in Bihar, from a very young age, Tara Rani was inspired by the ongoing struggle for independence. She was married off at the age of 13 to Phulendu Babu, who was already a part of the freedom struggle. Her marriage fuelled her patriotic sentiments, and she began to overlook and ignore the traditions that society demanded of a bride. Though Tara Rani lived in a community that did not encourage women to step out of their homes, she managed to gather like-minded women to raise awareness about Gandhiji`s independence struggle. She even galvanized women from the surrounding villages and motivated them to raise their voices in protest against British rule. She emerged as an inspirational force for women belonging to rural backgrounds, and her efforts paid off. She was instrumental in getting numerous women to participate in the Quit India Movement.
In response to Gandhiji’s call during the Quit India Movement, Phulendu Babu managed to get a massive crowd of men and women to congregate to witness the hoisting of the National Flag atop the Siwan police station. The newly married couple, Tara Rani and Phulendu, stood right in the front and raised anti-British slogans. The police resorted to the lathi charge and opened fire to disperse the assembled crowds, and in the mayhem that ensued, Phulendu fell to police bullets. However, this did not deter Tara Rani. With great fortitude, she bandaged his wounds and then marched on with the National Flag towards the police station. Such was her spirit of patriotism that she was determined to fulfil what they had set out to do. It is said that by the time Tara Rani returned to where her husband had fallen, he had already passed away. Though she was still a bride and belonged to a conservative community, Tara Rani kept her composure and did not let her patriotism die with her husband. She knew the stigma attached to the life of a widow, and despite all the obstacles that came her way, she relentlessly participated in the freedom struggle until India finally gained independence on 15th August 1947.
Tara Rani Srivastava was a brave heart who displayed commendable resolve despite the loss of her loved one. She belongs to that group of women who were ordinary faces, from humble backgrounds, and conservative households, with no formal education, who took on the British Empire selflessly and made great sacrifices, even laid their lives for the cause of their country’s freedom. There can be no denying that they fought against great personal odds for the freedom of the country. It is imperative that we bring these faces out of the shadows and honour them, as they were significant pillars of our freedom movement.