Lakshmi Bai Sehgal

A name that shines bright in the noble tribe of selfless patriots, who fought gallantly for the freedom of people in India – a set of brave hearts who, over years, have witnessed the rapid demise of values they once stood for. Capt. Lakshmi Sehgal- a lady who chose to be a fighter all her life, is fighting a new battle.

An MBBS doctor, Lakshmi Swaminathan, during the surrender of Singapore by the British to the Japanese, in 1942, aided the wounded prisoners of war, many of whom were interested in joining the Azad Hind Fauj. Soon she joined the Indian National Army – led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and became the chief of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment- an all women regiment- the first of its kind in Asia. The cadets of the regiment underwent military and combat training with drills, route marches as well as weapons training in rifles, hand grenades, and bayonet charges. The first qualified troop, numbering nearly five hundred, passed out of the Singapore training camp in March 1944. 200 more were also chosen for nursing training. The regiment, under the leadership of Capt. Lakshmi Swaminathan, participated in the successful Imphal campaign of the INA.

Years after the disbanding of the INA, Capt. Lakshmi Swaminathan, in 1947, married Col. Prem Kumar Sahgal, another brave officer of the Azad Hind Fauj. Years later, in 1971, Mrs Sehgal participated in active politics as a leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and represented the party in Rajya Sabha. During the Bangladesh crisis, she also organized relief camps and medical aid in Calcutta for refugees who streamed into India from Bangladesh. In 2002, the leftist parties of India nominated her as a candidate in the presidential elections. She, the sole opponent to A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, lost by 1 lakh to 9 lakh votes.

Recently, on June 19, Mrs Sehgal (97), was admitted to a hospital following a life threatening cardiac arrest and is presently being kept on life support system. Once a fearless doctor, a gallant comrade in its truest sense, a lifelong philanthropist and activist, a wonderful wife and a mother – Capt. Lakshmi Sehgal – we the people stand tall by you when you are fighting yet another battle. We pray for your good health.

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6 responses to “Lakshmi Bai Sehgal

  1. Her death cudnt be more timed, once nominated for presidentship,she died the day pranab got winning votes

  2. The poem still gives me goose pimples every time I read it. And I also break into goose pimples each time I recall my own fleeting moment with a legend from my history books in school: Captain Laxmi Sehgal of the Rani Jhansi regiment from Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army. Somehow Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi and Captain Laxmi Sehgal of the Jhansi regiment had fused into my child’s mind – those impresions sometimes get carried into adulthood and are difficult to overcome.

  3. During the INA’s Imphal campaign , an initial contingent of nearly a hundred of the Rani of Jhansi troops moved to Maymyo , part of which was intended to form a Vangaurd unit to enter the Gangetic plains of Bengal after the expected fall of Imphal . The Battle of Imphal took place in the region around the city of Imphal, the capital of the state of Manipur in North-East India from March until July Pyin U Lwin or Pyin Oo Lwin (, formerly Maymyo (22° 2’438&quotN 96°27’31 The Battle of Imphal took place in the region around the city of Imphal, the capital of the state of Manipur in North-East India from March until July A part of the unit also formed the Nursing corps at the INA hospital at Maymyo. Following the failure of the siege of Imphal and the INA’s disastrous retreat, the Rani troops were tasked with coordinating the relief and care of the INA troops who arrived at Monywa and to Maymyo The Rani regiment was not ultimately used in combat. Monywa ( is a city in Sagaing Division, Myanmar, located 136 km northwest of Mandalay on the eastern bank of the River Chindwin. Pyin U Lwin or Pyin Oo Lwin (, formerly Maymyo (22° 2’438&quotN 96°27’31 A former INA veteran of Jhansi Rani Regiment is still alive( as of 2006)in chennai and was honoured by Chief Minister of tamil nadu(Source AANANDHA VIKADAN)Shewas trained for regular as well as counter intelligence warfare.

  4. With war spreading to south-east Asia in end-1941, Sahgal began treating wounded prisoners of war many of whom were of Indian origin. She also became actively involved in the India Independence League, which organized Indians in south-east Asia against the British. Her life changed irrevocably with the arrival of Bose in Singapore in 1943. Electrified by Netaji’s message she took up the responsibility for setting up the Rani Jhansi regiment, the women’s brigade of the Indian National Army. She was also inducted into the provisional cabinet of Azad Hind, the only woman in that position. In the end-game before Indian independence she was captured by the British in 1946 and brought back to India. Her private and public life intertwined when she married Colonel Prem Sahgal, also of the INA, in 1947.From then she was to be known as Captain Lakshmi Sahgal.

  5. Maj-Gen Shahnawaz Khan, known to be the right-hand man of Netaji, has described her in his book “INA and its Netaji” published in 1946 with a forward by Jawaharlal Nehru, in these words: “Dr. Lakshmi Swaminathan, a young, energetic and outstanding brave lady was selected by Netaji to be the commander of the Rani Jhansi regiment”. Within a brief period of six months the members of the regiment mastered all their training and were every bit as well trained and disciplined as any soldier of the Azad Hind Fauz. The girls were particularly good in bayonet fighting and all of them were eager to use the weapon against the British forces.

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