A Burqa Clad Woman Commander of Indians in 1857

“Come! God has called you into paradise.”

An old woman wearing green clothes, which fully covered her body (Burqa), carrying sword and gun, and riding a horse used to exhort the residents of Delhi to fight against the British forces during the summers of 1857. This old woman used to gather civilians behind her and attack the British forces stationed at ridge and Kashmiri Gate. People could never know her whereabouts. Out of nowhere, she used to appear on a horse and after the attack would disappear.

In a letter dated, 29th July, 1857, Lieutenant Hudson wrote to Deputy Commissioner of Ambala that this Muslim woman was very dangerous. The woman was weird and incited the Delhites to revolt against the British. She led the people into the skirmishes and was an able commander, who could manage untrained civilians into war against the trained British army. Hudson further noticed that she was excellent at fighting with swords and shooting with guns. She killed many British soldiers during the different skirmishes. 

Hudson paid a tribute to the bravery of this woman by comparing her with Joan of Arc of France. He contended that the courage, leadership and valour of this green wearing Muslim woman was no less than Joan of Arc. 

During one of the battles at the ridge in Delhi she fell from the horseback and was captured. Army General, looking at an old Muslim woman, felt unthreatened and ordered her release when Hudson intervened. Hudson told the General that this woman was the actual commander of the Indians and hence really dangerous. Afterwards, it was decided that the old woman would be shifted to a prison in Ambala.

This brave old woman was shifted to Ambala in July, 1857. Neither we know her name  nor we have any idea of what happened to her in Ambala but surely this old Muslim woman clad in a green burqa is one of those unsung heroes of the 1857 who ignited a flame which later liberated India from the foreign rule. 

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Saquib Salim

Saquib Salim is a well known historian under whose supervision various museums (Red Fort, National Library, IFFI, Jallianwala Bagh etc.) were researched. To his credit Mr. Salim has more than 400 published articles on history, politics, culture and literature in English and Hindi. Before pursuing his research and masters in modern Indian History from JNU, he was an electrical engineering student at AMU. Presently, he works as a freelance/ independent history researcher, writer and works at www.awazthevoice.in

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