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Indumati Patankar

(1925 – 2017) – (Maharashtra)

Indumati Patankar (Aged 92) also known as Indutai, was born in 1925 in Kasegaon, Maharashtra, India. She was a freedom fighter and long-time veteran activist who supported the families of freedom movement leaders staying at her home in Indoli, Tal. Karad. Her father, Dinkarrao Nikam, was in the freedom movement beginning in 1930 and became a Communist when he was in jail for Satyagraha and met Communist leaders like Bhai V.D. Chitale.

Indutai started reading books such as Volga Te Ganga when she was 10-12 years old and took part in morning processions of Congress in the village. In 1942, at the age of 16, she left her parental home and joined the 1942 Independence movement against British rule, organizing women and spreading the Rashtra Seva Dal.

She gradually started taking part in the underground movement of the prati sarkar by 1943, carrying arms (pistols and revolvers) to the fighters. Both Indutai and Babuji became part of the Socialist Party along with many others all over the country. Because of theoretical and political differences around 1949, they became part of the Socialist Party (Marxist-Leninist) under the leadership of Aruna Asaf Ali. Then in 1952, they became Communists.

Babuji was killed by anti-social elements in connivance with the then-controllers of the state. Indutai, as a young widow, single-handedly continued to raise her family, particularly their baby boy Bharat, who had been born on 5 September 1949. She also continued to participate in Communist party activities. Just as her earlier maternal home Indoli had been a center of Communist activities, now Kasegaon became a center in old Satara district.

Indutai was continuously working in women’s organizations, toiling peoples’ movements including agricultural laborers’ movement, and social work. She was the core leader of Stree Mukti Sangharsh Chalwal with several other rural women fighting against violence and for survival and livelihoods. Through this work, she led the struggle of parityakta (abandoned/deserted) women. This movement of parityakta women for ration cards, alimony, and recognition of their rights has been ongoing since 1988 in Satara, Sangli, and Kolhapur districts. This was one of her special contributions. She passed away in 2017.