Durgawati Devi was an Indian freedom fighter and is known for fighting against the British rule in India through arms struggle. She actively participated in the Indian revolutionary movements along with her husband Bhagwati Charan Vohra who was an active member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) and that was the reason that she was popular by the name Durga Bhabhi in various revolutionary groups. She is remembered for helping Bhagat Singh and Rajguru in escaping the police arrest soon after the killing of J P Saunders in 1928.
Durgawati Devi was born on Monday, 7 October 1907 (age 92 years; at the time of death) in Allahabad, United Provinces, British India (present-day Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, India). her zodiac sign was Libra. She received formal education up to class fifth.
Hair Colour: Salt and Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Her parents’ names are not known. She was the only child of her parents.
Husband & Children
Durgawati Devi got married to Bhagwati Charan Vohra in 1918. Charan Vohra was a revolutionary freedom fighter. The couple had a son named Sachinanda.
Durgawati Devi with her husband and child
She belonged to a Gujarati Brahmin family.
The Naujawan Bharat Sabha was joined by Durgawati Devi after her marriage with Bhagwati Charan Vohra. She is known for organising the funeral procession of freedom fighter Jatin Das from Lahore to Calcutta after he died protesting for 63 days hunger strike in Lahore jail and the procession was joined by a huge crowd. The revolutionary organisations often gave the responsibility to procure weapons to Durgawati Devi, and in 1930, she was seen with pistols hiding in her clothes by the then editor of the Hindustan Times, JN Sahni, in a secret meeting in Delhi. Soon after the surrender of Bhagat Singh under the charges of the Assembly bomb-throwing case, she tried to kill Lord Hailey in 1929. Lord Hailey was left unhurt in the bomb blast, but many of his companions died. Later, she was sent to jail for three years by the British police. During the freedom fighting movements, a bomb manufacturing factory ‘Himalayan Toilets’ was operated by Vimal Prasad Jain with the help of Durgawati Devi and her husband at Qutub Road, Delhi. Picric acid, nitroglycerine, and fulminate mercury were some elements that were used by them to produce bombs against the British empire in India. On 19 December 1928, soon after the killing of John P. Saunders, to escape the British police force, Bhagat Singh and Shivaram Rajguru called Durgawati Devi to help them, and the next day, they concealed their identities and physical appearances and boarded a train from Lahore to Bhatinda. Durgawati posed as the Wife of Bhagat Singh and Rajguru posed as their servant. They bought two first-class tickets and a third class. She also took her infant son with her. Bhagat Singh shaved his beard and cut his long hair and wore western attire during the escape. They travelled along with the loaded guns and reached Howrah, where Durgawati and Bhagat Singh landed. Rajguru left for the Benares station. Durgawati Devi went back to Lahore a few days later.
Durgawati Devi died a natural death on 15 October 1999 at Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. She was 92 years old at the time of death.
- She is also known by the name Durga Bhabhi in Indian freedom fighting history.
- Durgawati Devi was very young when her mother died, and her father left Durgawati Devi with her aunt who raised her. Her father went to Teerath Sannyas soon after the death of her mother.
- Bhagwati Charan Vohra married Durgawati Devi when she was only eleven years old. They parented a baby boy named Sachinanda in 1925. Later, she started teaching at a girls’ college in Lahore and taught there till 1929.
- During Bhagat Singh and his companions’ court proceedings, Durgawati Devi sold her jewellery worth rupees 3000 to rescue them.
- Durgawati Devi started a school for underprivileged children in 1935.
- In Indian history, she is remembered by the name ‘The Agni of India.’ She fought against the British rule while threatening them to leave India during India’s struggle for freedom.
- Professor Bhagwati Charan Vohra planned to free Bhagat Singh from Lahore jail and died while testing a bomb on the banks of the river Ravi.
- In 1928, during the escape from British police, Bhagat Singh so transformed himself that he was not even recognised by Durgawati Devi. Then Shivaram Rajguru stated,
If Devi could not recognise Singh in his changed clean-shaved appearance despite knowing him well, surely the police would also not recognize him as they would be looking for a bearded Sikh.”
- In the film Rang De Basanti, which was directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra in 2006, Durgawati Devi’s small reference character was portrayed by Indian actress Soha Ali Khan.
- The character of Durgawati Devi was portrayed in the seventh episode of the show Adrishya, which was telecasted in 2014 on the EPIC channel.