Women Freedom Fighters: Remembering Ahilya Rangnekar

She stitched the tricolour from saris and hoisted it from the prison walls


Ahilya Rangnekar came from a progressive family influenced by the values of the social reform. The family’s four daughters, and the daughters-in-law were graduates. On 8 August 1942, in response to the declaration of the ‘Quit India’ movement, Ahilya joined the students in enforcing a strike in their college. On 15 August, hearing of the death of Gandhiji’s secretary Mahadevbhai Desai in jail, Ahilya led her student friends in a protest march, resulting in their arrest. They were sent to Yeravda jail as Class B prisoners for three months. In prison, she and her comrades worked with Class C prisoners who were given poorer quality of amenities and food. They mobilised women prisoners to donate coloured saris with which they stitched together and hoisted the Congress tricolour on the prison wall standing on a human pyramid. As punishment, Ahilya and co-inmate Indutai Kerkar were confined in a tiny cell for seven days.

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