(1917 – ★) – (Uttar Pradesh)
Amidst famine, epidemic, and poverty, Jaggi Devi’s brave story flourished. Born into a farming family in 1917, Jaggi, also known as “Mother,” married Baba Ramachandra, a Brahmin farmer, at the age of 12. One of their wedding ceremonies was a vow to serve the country. She played a leading role in the Avathil peasants’ movement against the terrible encroachments of the landlord and their British patrons and the rack-rent.
The agrarian movements in Awadh originated from local roots and became relatively autonomous, merging at points with nationalist campaigns. In the early 1940s, this integration was manifested in the massive participation in individual satyagrahas against the war and the Quit India Movement. Jaggi Devi took the women of Kisan’s congregations to Satyagraha and guided them to overcome their fears.
In a pamphlet entitled “Mata Chatru,” Father Pyri denounced the inhumane practices of polygamy, polygamy, and child marriage of women. She took part in the collective struggle for girls’ education in the 1930s. As a result, Jaggi Devi’s daughters Lalita and Vijayalakshmi (in the 1940s) sought education. She fought against the inhumane practice of evicting the spouses and children of deceased tenants from their land, levying taxes such as ‘motorvan’ to maintain cars by landowners, striking services such as ‘ni-topi-band’ and ‘panchayat cow’ proposed by the Kisan Council to provide milk to children.
Thousands of ordinary peasants, including women, were arrested by the court and spent many years in rigorous imprisonment. Jaggi Devi’s freedom struggle went beyond 1947 and was more than just political autonomy, it was economic autonomy that transformed exploitative land relations. She fought for autonomy, education, and the basic right to life. In the 1980s, she petitioned the government to open a Khadi Ashram in her village of Dawoodpur Kunda for the employment of women.
The story of Jaggi Devi, a Kurmi woman, is a testament to the strength and determination of rural women in India.