Umabai Kundapur is one of the unsung women freedom fighters of India. She was the fearless leader who sheltered other freedom fighters against the British People and served her country until her last breath.
Umabai Kundapur was born in 1892 to Golikeri Krishna Rao and Jungabai in Mangalore. Her birth name was Bhavani Golikeri. She was married to an affluent family at a very young age of 13 to Sanjiv Rao Kundapur. Her father in law Anandarao Kundapur was a progressive thinker and had a good mindset which helped her study and under her father in law’s guidance, she completed her matriculation exam.
Her father-in-law believed in the upliftment of women hence after Umabai completed her matriculation and helped her Father In-law in educating women through Gaundevi Mahila Samaj in Mumbai. When she turned 25, she lost her husband and after his death, Anandarao and Umabai came to Hubli to start a Karnataka Press and a school named ‘Tilak Kanya Shala’, lead by Umabai.
Her struggle and life as a freedom fighter
In the year 1921, Dr. N S Hardikar started Hindustani Seva Dal to help India gain Independence, and in the South Hubli became its hub of activities. Umabai became the leader of the women wing of the Seva dal and in the year 1924, she helped Dr. N S Hardikar to recruit over 150 women to help All India Congress Belgaum Session.
In the year 1932, she was arrested by the British and was kept in Yerwada Jail which is when the British confiscated her Press, sealed her school, and NGO ‘Bhagini Mandal’ and made it unlawful. However, she did not lose her will and continued to fight against the British, and her small house became home to many women freedom fighters.
In 1946, Mahatma Gandhi appointed Umabai as the head of the Karnataka branch of Kasturba Trust where Umabai and her fellow women went on to collect funds for upliftment of the villages by training Grama Sevikas in child-welfare, health programs, and education.
Umabai has been an inspiration to many other women freedom fighters out of whom one is Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay who after attending one of the sessions held by Umadevi was impressed and said: “It was the biggest turning point in my life, I joined as a volunteer and I still continue to be her camp follower”.
She has been an inspiration to many fighters but however after independence, she refused to take up prominent political offices and adhered to pledge her service to the nation, she even refused rewards, recognition, and even a pension that freedom fighters were entitled to. She continued her work until her last breath from a simple cottage in Hubli and died at the ripe age of 100 in the year 1992.
[ Also Checkout: Karnataka Freedom Fighters ]