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Friday Supplement
 
Great 'Unassuming Heroines' Of Nepalese Revolution
Prof. Manik Lal Shrestha
 

Today our country is in a crucial transitional stage, the stage of pulling down age-old state structure and building a new Nepal. This "not insignificant progress" is the result of the incessant struggle launched by our people for the last seven decades, in which our four pioneer martyrs including thousands other martyrs of the consecutive armed and unarmed violent struggles of 1961, 1990 and 2006 and the decade long (1996-2006) ‘people’s war’ as well as many other revolutionary fighters including a number of great "unassuming" heroes and heroines had shown marvelous feats, made brilliant sacrifices and scored immortal achievements.

I have used the term " unassuming heroes and heroines" by borrowing from the Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese struggles. In those countries the revolutionaries use the term " unassuming heroes and heroines" to describe those who have made significant contribution to the cause of people’s victory during the liberation struggle and in building a new society after liberation, but not much known to the people. These great revolutionaries preferred to work selflessly and silently and never tried to get publicity. Now in Korea, China and Vietnam campaigns are being launched to publicize the feats of these "unassuming heroes and heroines" with a view to inspire the common people to emulate their examples. In North Korea, the present supreme leader Kim Jong II even went to the extent of emphasizing the one of the most important tasks of progressive literature is to publicize the feats of unassuming heroes and heroines.

We in Nepal are also today in the stage of building a new Nepal, an egalitarian society by putting an end to the old discriminatory and unjust system. This task needs a concerted effort of the entire people, who should be aroused and mobilized in this revolutionary march ahead. It is advisable that the people should be encouraged to emulate the exemplary feats of our heroes and heroines who include not only the martyrs who sacrificed their own lives, but the silent social and political workers who dedicated their whole lives to the cause of the people. But unfortunately, the majority of our people know only those heroes and heroines whose feats are written in annals of history of included in school texts.

For instance, most of our people know about our pioneer martyrs of 1941 (of 1997 V.E., Ganga Lal, Dasrath Chand, Dharmabhakta and Sukra Raj Joshi), but only a few people know about Thir Bam Malla (martyr of 1950), Bhim Datta Pant (of 1951), Jagat Prakash Jung Shah (of 1963), Durga Nanda Jha (of 1964).

Apart from the example of martyrs, it is somewhat sad for us to find many brave heroes and heroines are being sent to oblivion. About five brave revolutionaries, who founded the Communist Party of Nepal, some people tend to mention only four founders and send Moti Devi Shrestha into oblivion. In reality, and in all sincerity we should rather now introduce to the people the brilliant feats and dedicated service of our less publicized and even almost unknown heroes like Surya Bahadur Shrestha (anti-Rana liberation fighter), Mangal Man Pradhan (dedicated patriot and worker who fought life-long for social reforms) and heroines like Ram Maya ( a humble sweeper) who dared to work as courier of the revolutionaries including the martyrs during anti-Rana movement of 1936-1940.

However, here I shall try to recollect in brief the great service to the country and society done by two such heroines through their political and social struggle. They are Ms. Kamaksha Devi Rana and Mrs. Hira Devi Tuladhar "Yami".

Ms. Kamaksha Devi Rana

Although her name is not a stranger to the people belonging to political circle in Nepal and not completely unknown to the common people during the decade immediately following the 1951 political change, her great contribution to the cause of democracy is not fairly known because of her "unassuming" nature. It is said that our immortal martyr Ganga Lal Shrestha, when decided that the would be either hanged or shot to death, asked someone to come forward and offer him to chew betel-leaf (as a symbol of congratulating), Ms. Kamaksha Devi Rana (great grand-daughter of Jung Bahadur Rana), then a teen-aged girl from Rana family, defying the cruel Rana oligarchic government, came forward boldly to offer the hero the ‘pan’ (betel-leaf).

After the arrest of all leaders and members of Nepal Praja Parishad and martyrdom of four heroes and imprisonment of almost all arrested people, some bold youths formed Nepal Prajatantra Sangh (Nepal Democracy Association) and continued the activities of Nepal Praja Parishad as desired by Praja Parishad supremos Dasrath Chand and Tanka Prasad Acharya. Among the seven founders of Nepal Prajatantra Sangh, Kamaksha Devi Rana was the only woman member. After the political change of 1951 (2007 Vikram Era), she became active in left movement and in progressive section of the women’s movement. She was an energetic agitator for promotion of women rights. The Nepal Mahila Sangh (Nepal Women’s Organization) which was founded as an organization to mobilize women in anti-Rana liberation movement was, after the end of Rana regime, split into two fractions, the Pro-Nepali Congress organization and the Pro-communist Party organization and Kamaksha Devi become the President of the latter group. She had also made immortal contributions in social organizations, particularly in peace movements and in friendship organizations. She was one of the prominent founders of Nepal China Friendship Association, Nepal Korea Friendship Association, Nepal Peace Council and Afro-Asia solidarity organization.

In whichever field or movement she worked, she worked silently and devotedly, and never sought for publicity By profession, she was nurse supposed to work selflessly for the service of the patients, but she dedicated her whole life to nurse her ailing country and society.

Hira Devi Tuladhar "Yami"

Unlike Kamaksha Devi, Hira Devi Tuladhar ‘Yami’ was not al leader of any organization or a leading cadre, her contribution to the cause of democratic movement of the people is not less significant. Her political and social activity actually or in other words actively started after her marriage with an anti-Rana liberation fighter Dharma Ratna Tuladhar ‘Yami’, who was first imprisoned in 1940 during the democratic struggle launched by Nepal Praja Parishad. Mrs Yami was married to him after his release in 1945. Her husband continued his anti-Rana activity and was again arrested and imprisoned. As a devoted wife and a comrade –in-arms of a revolutionary fighter, she completely delved into democratic struggle of Nepalese people.

Although his political activities after the royal coup of 1960 was rather controversial, Mr. Yami’s revolutionary activities for two decades (1940-1960), particularly his struggle against the autocratic militaristic rule of Rana family in the decade of 1940’s was selfless and valiant. During the latter part of this decade i.e. after release from prison Dharma Ratna Yami along with other Praja Parishad workers and his subsequent marriage, his wife Hira Devi Tuladhar ‘Yami’, although a newcomer in anti-Rana freedom struggle, showed an extra-ordinary courage, wit, patience and endurance not only in fulfilling her role of a comrade-in-arms of a fighter husband, but also in working as a full-fledged woman cadre fighting for the cause of democracy and women’s right. The ‘freedom-fighters" of the time, a popular term used for those struggling against autocratic rule of Rana family for the establishment of democracy, greatly praised her great service in two aspects: arranging dens and giving shelter for the underground political workers, and working as a secret courier to carry messages between imprisoned political leaders and activists working outside the prison and in exile. In both these respects, she had become a legendary woman.

Elderly politician, Mr. Ram Hari Sharma (General Secretary of Nepal Praja Parishad when founded in 1936) often recalls how she braved all risks and carried messages from and to him and his fellow-inmates in Rana prison. She gave shelter to innumerable political workers including Tulsi Lal Amatya (at that time leader of Nepali Congress and later a top communist leader) by placing him in the improvised room, not allowing him even to come out of the room even for toilet, but rather throwing his night–soil herself, just as a nurse does for a bedridden patient. It is hard to imagine the bravery of a "single woman" (her husband was in Rana prison then) in her twenties sheltering a young man in a single-roomed house, that too in that extremely conservative society of that time.

The Ranas knew that she was cooperating with anti-Rana revolutionaries and sent innumerable spies to shadow her, but could not gather any information. Quite desperate, the Rana rulers ordered her, a woman who delivered a child just one day before, to regularly come and report to the gate of the palace of the Rana prime-minister Mohan Samsher.

Really she lived humble, worked humbly seeking neither any material benefit, nor name and fame, but only devoted herself to do something for the cause of democracy. She can be cited as "an unassuming heroine" whose example is fit to be emulated.

 
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