Born on 15th September 1925
As the British colonial regime inflicted atrocities on Indians and what looked like unconquerable darkness, in the pockets of Maharashtra emerged an alternative way of life, the Prati Sarkar. Like any other government, they had institutions overlooking administration, justice, defence etc. but what made it unique was the source of strength- thousands of volunteers ready to make their dream of freedom a reality. This was an era of self-dependence, an epoch of sovereignty and the omen of times when the British would finally be removed from this country.
A leading face of this movement that reconciled fierceness with empathy and political action with education was Indutai, a woman who stood straight in the face of all adversaries.
Born on 15 September 1925 Indumati Babuji Patankar was a great political activist, social mobiliser and teacher. When she stepped onto the threshold of teenage, the nation was drowned in the waves of colonial resistance and Indumati too came under its influence. She would read political literature, participate in Congress’ demonstrations and help the families of other revolutionaries. Her father was a freedom fighter himself and the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
Once Patankar hit the age of 16, she decided to dedicate herself to the cause of Indian independence completely. Young in years yet mature in character, she joined the Rashtra Seva Dal, motivating women to play an active role in the fight against the British.
The very next year, she became associated with the Prati Sarkar as their alternative egalitarian model of governance resonated with her personal ideas.
Indumati found her calling in the activities of the Prati Sarkar along with the love of her life, Krantivir Babuji Patankar, a co-communist. Together, they were unstoppable and played a crucial role in connecting the network of underground activists running this movement.
Political consciousness and critical thinking are necessary to sustain resistance and the duo decided to open the Kasegaon Education Society and the first high school in Kasegaon called Azad Vidyalaya. Indutai not only became one of the first woman students to enrol in the school but she later began teaching here, a job he would keep continuing doing for the rest of her life.
Things were going fine for Indumati Patankar. The Prati Sarkar villages organically developed a representative form of government that reflected the will of all people and their school successfully equipped many with holistic education. In the cruel twist of fate, her world came shattering down when Babuji got murdered. Not only did she lose the man she loved with all her heart, but she was also only a young widow who had to take care of a 5-month-old son. The journey ahead of perilous and challenging but Indumati never learnt how to give up
Patankar took the front lines with women’s issues and fought for the rights of the victims of domestic violence and abandoned women. With the Stree Mukti Sangharsh Chalwa and movement of parityakta women or deserted women, she tackled gender-based violence and discrimination on the social, economic and political fronts.
As a communist leader, Indumati put all her efforts into the endeavours of the Communist party that included securing workers and farm labourers rights. Her son, Bharat Patankar, too joined her fight and became an advocate for the anti-caste movement.
Whatever Indutai did, she did it with utmost dedication and complete honesty. The forces she fought were powerful but that did not deter her from challenging the wrong. This perhaps is the true legacy of Indumati Patankar, the great freedom activist and social worker who passed away onIndumati Babuji Patankar- she helped the silenced to raise their voice. She aided them in turning the wheels of social justice, declaring that change is on its way.
This was story was first published on This Day.app.