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Uda Devi

(1830 – 1857) – (Uttar Pradesh)

Uda Devi (Aged 27), a Dalit woman, fought against the British East India Company during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Although upper caste heroines like Jhansi Rani are often celebrated in historical accounts, Devi and other female Dalit participants also played crucial roles in the fight for independence from British colonial rule. Today, they are remembered as the “Dalit Veeranganas” of the rebellion. Devi was married to Makka Pasi, a soldier in the army of Hazrat Mahal.

When she saw the growing unrest among the Indian people towards British rule, Uda Devi approached the queen of her district, Begum Hazrat Mahal, to enlist in the war effort. The Begum helped her form a women’s battalion under her command to prepare for the impending battle. Both Uda Devi and her husband participated in the armed resistance against the British when they attacked Awadh. When she learned that her husband had died in battle, she launched a final campaign with all her might.

On November 1857, during the Battle of Sikandar Bagh in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India, Uda Devi led her battalion and climbed up a pipal tree. From her perch, she began shooting at advancing British soldiers. A British officer noticed that many of the casualties had bullet wounds indicating a steep downward trajectory. Suspecting a hidden sniper, he ordered his officers to fire at the trees, and a rebel fell to the ground dead. Upon investigation, they discovered that the sniper was Uda Devi.

William Forbes-Mitchell, in his book Reminiscences of the Great Mutiny, wrote about Uda Devi’s bravery. He noted that she was armed with a pair of heavy old-pattern cavalry pistols, one of which was still loaded in her belt, and her pouch was still half full of ammunition. From her carefully prepared position in the tree, she had killed more than half a dozen men.