India observes 107th birth anniversary of renowned freedom fighter and officer of the Indian National Army Captain Lakshmi Sahgal on October 24. Captain Lakshmi Sahgal was Minister of Women’s Affairs in the Azad Hind government formed by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in exile.
Sahgal was born as Lakshmi Swaminathan in Palakkad district of Kerala on October 24, 1914. Her father S Swaminathan, was a lawyer who practised criminal law at Madras High Court. Sahgal’s mother, Ammu Swaminathan, was a social worker and independence activist. The INA officer studied in Queen Mary’s College and later pursued an MBBS degree from Madras Medical College in 1938. Republic Day 2019: Indian National Army Veterans Thank Government for Recognising Their Contribution to Freedom Struggle.
Facts About Captain Lakshmi Sahgal:
- After studying a diploma in gynaecology and obstetrics, she worked as a doctor in the Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital located at Triplicane Chennai.
- She was married to pilot PKN Rao.
- In 1940, she left for Singapore, after her failed marriage.
- She joined the Independence League formed by freedom fighter Rashbehari Bose in 1941.
- In 1942, during the surrender of Singapore by the British to the Japanese, Sahgal aided wounded prisoners of war.
- In 1943, the leadership of the League was taken over by Bose.
- She was influenced by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and played a pivotal role in the formation of the all-women infantry regiment of the INA, named “Rani of Jhansi Regiment”.
- In 1945, She was arrested by the British forces.
- In 1947, she married Colonel Prem Kumar Sahgal, who was also part of the INA.
In 1971, Sahgal joined the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and represented the party in the Rajya Sabha. She also provided relief camps and medical aid in Calcutta for refugees during the Bangladesh crisis. She was one of the founding members of All India Democratic Women’s Association. In 2020, she was the presidential candidate of the Left Parties. However, APJ Abdul Kalam emerged victorious. On July 19, 2012, Sahgal suffered a cardiac arrest and breathed her last on July 23, 2012, at the age of 97 at Kanpur.