New Delhi : The CPI-M Monday described freedom fighter Lashmi Sehgal, an associate of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose who joined the party some four decades ago, as a courageous and compassionate woman.
Expressing profound grief, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said she was an “inspiring and courageous freedom fighter, dedicated and compassionate doctor in the service of the poor”.
In a statement, the CPI-M also described her as a fighter for women’s rights “and a senior and greatly respected member” of the party.
Sehgal died at age 98 in Kanpur. She was a patron of the All India Democratic Women’s Association.
Born into an illustrious family from Kerala, she was brought up in Madras (now Chennai) where she excelled in her studies. Her parents were freedom fighters.
She completed her MBBS in 1938 and then travelled to Singapore where she became involved in the work of the India Independence League.
She was introduced to Netaji Bose in 1943 and was invited by him to set up the Rani of Jhansi women’s brigade under his overall command.
She came to head this brigade and was inducted by him into the provisional cabinet of Azad Hind as the only woman member, it said.
She played “a heroic role and saved many lives” as a doctor until she was captured by the British and brought to India in 1946, where he was given a heroine’s welcome.
After independence, Sehgal set up her practice in Kanpur, providing medical services to lakhs of poor women free of charge.
“She was devoted to her patients and there was hardly a day when she did not work in her modest clinic.
“Even on the day before her heart attack, regardless of her frail health she was at the clinic meeting patients, such was her dedication.”
In 1971, when a large numbers of refugees poured into India from then East Pakistan, she spent several months working with the refugees providing them medical relief.
It was after this that Sehgal joined the CPI-M.