Rani Lakshmibai was one of the leading warriors of India’s freedom struggle who laid an outstanding influence on the succeeding women freedom fighters. She was a symbol of bravery, patriotism, respect of girl child, perseverance, generosity and resistance to British rule. She fought till her last breath for the welfare of women in the country and for the noble cause of India’s independence.
Rani Laxmibai, popularly known as ‘Rani of Jhansi’ or ‘Rani Lakshmi Bai’, was born on November 19, 1835 at Poona in a wealthy high class Brahmin family. She got married to Raja Gangadhar Rao, the maharaja of Jhansi, in 1842. In 1851, she gave birth to a child who unfortunately died just four months after his birth. Being highly affected by this tragic incident Raja adopted Damodar Rao as his son. Even after that he was unable to come out of the tragedy of losing his son and ultimately died on November 21, 1853. Rani had faced great tragedies in life; she lost her mother at a very young age and then her husband at the age of eighteen. But, no tragedy was able to break her apart and courageously she took over all her responsibilities.
After the death of Raja of Jhansi, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General of India, planned to annex Jhansi on the ground that it did not have any legal heir. Britishers refused to accept Damodar as the legal heir of Jhansi and in 1854, Rani of Jhansi was ordered to leave the fort after giving a pension of 60,000.
Being a patriotic woman, Rani was not willing to give the dominion of Jhansi to Britishers and called for an armed force. She successfully assembled an army of rebellions including women and was supported by many freedom fighters like Gulam Gaus Khan, Dost Khan, Khuda Baksh, Sunder-Mundar, Kashi Bai, Lala Bhau Bakshi, Moti Bai, Deewan Raghunath singh and Deewan Jawahar Singh.
In March 1858, Britishers attack on Jhansi forced Rani Lakshmi Bai’s army to fight back for the defense of the city. The war continued for two weeks but unfortunately Britishers were successful in extending their empire. Under the cover of darkness Rani along with her son and army of rebellions rode to Gwalior where again a battle was fought. The second day of the war in Gwalior unfortunately turned to be the last day of Rani’s life. Bravely fighting for India’ freedom, she died on June 18, 1858.