They fought for India’s freedom. And more than 70 years after Independence, they’re still fighting – this time for justice for the country’s farmers and agricultural labourers.

Hausabai Patil, now 91, was a member of the Toofan Sena (typhoon or whirlwind army), the armed wing of the prati sarkar (provisional underground government) of the then Satara region of Maharashtra, which declared independence from the British in 1943. Between 1943 and 1946, she was with teams of revolutionaries that attacked British trains, imperial treasuries and post offices.

The Toofan Sena’s ‘field marshal’ was Ramchandra Sripati Lad, popularly called, Captain Bhau (bhau in Marathi means elder brother). On June 7, 1943, Lad had led a memorable attack on the Pune-Miraj train carrying the salaries of officials of the British Raj.

When we met him in September 2016, Lad, then 94, wanted us to know that “the money did not go in to any individual’s pocket but to the prati sarkar. We gave that money to the needy and poor.”

In the run-up to the Kisan Mukti March in Delhi on November 29-30, 2018, Captain Bhau and Hausabai extended their support to the farmers and labourers demanding a  21-day session of Parliament dedicated to the agrarian crisis.

In these videos, Captain Bhau reminds us of how shameful it is that farmers are committing suicide, and Hausabai insists that the government gives farmers better prices for their crops, and wakes up and works for the poor.
Bharat Patil

Bharat Patil is a volunteer with the People’s Archive of Rural India.

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