25 January, 2021

Of A Boss And Her Able Aide

A tale of two Gujarati women who made it their mission to rescue women abducted during Partition

Of A Boss And Her Able Aide
Few of the present generation will be familiar with the name of Mridula Sarabhai. And even fewer will have heard of the name of Kamla Patel. Both were undoubtedly heroines of independent India. Apart from being Gujaratis, they had little in common in their backgrounds. Mridula Sarabhai (1911-72) was the eldest of the eight children of Seth Ambalal Sarabhai, a textile magnate of Ahmedabad and among the top ten richest of the rich of the country. They were Shwetambar Jains. Better known among the siblings was Mridula’s younger brother Vikram who rose to eminence as a nuclear and space scientist. Mridula was involved in the freedom movement before she was asked to take over operations to rescue women abducted during Partition riots in Pakistan and India. Later she espoused the cause of Sheikh Abdullah who had been imprisoned by the Nehru government. In 1958, she too was arrested and put in Tihar jail for a year. She developed cancer and was packed off to Ahmedabad and kept under house arrest. She succumbed to cancer in 1972.

Kamla Patel (1912-92) came from a middle-class...



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