INDIA has produced many national heroes about whom we all know, but very few would have heard or read about a woman born in an ordinary family of Rajasthan and who played a heroic role in the Mutiny of 1857. Dressed in male garments, this brave woman took up the leadership of the local people and led the brave Indian warriors in a battle against the British army to drive them away from the battlefield.
We all have heard of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi and how bravely she confronted the British, but no less has been the role of the brave female warrior Suja Rajpurohit in teaching a lesson to the British army.
Born in Ladnum area of Marwar kingdom, Suja Kanwar belonged to a family that believed in high principles. Her father, Hanwant Singh Rajpurohit had close relations with the local thakur, Bahadur Singh Rajput. Having spent her childhood with the children of the thakur family, Suja learnt horse riding, sword fighting, archery and rifle shooting. She was a very proud girl and this came to the fore when in 1854, she was married to Baijnath Singh Rajpurohit of Bili village. After her marriage, when she was going to her husband’s home, dacoits waylaid the newly married couple. Her husband told her to handover all her jewellery to the dacoits instead of endangering her life, but she immediately pulled out the sword from her husband’s sheath and killed the leader of the dacoits while the others ran away. Following this incident, she refused to accompany her husband saying that she did not want such a timid and weak husband. She resolved to work for the welfare of her people instead and took to wearing male garments.
In 1857, a garrison of British troops began to attack and kill people in Ladnum area. When the news of the attack reached Thakur Bahadur Singh, he was surprised. He did not have the means or the troops to confront the attackers. He called his reliable soldiers for a discussion on how to handle the situation when there appeared Suja Kanwar dressed in male clothes and carrying a rifle in her hands. She boldly announced, “Thakur Saheb, rest assured. As long as your daughter Suja Rajpurohit is alive, not even the shadow of any British soldier can touch this hamlet.”
Immediately she constituted an army and the soldiers were placed under Suja. When the British troops were about to attack, brave Suja Rajpurohit launched an attack on them. As the enemy had not expected such a sudden assault from such a small region, the British troops began to make a hasty retreat. In the war, many brave warriors of Ladnum lost their lives and 20-year old Suja got injured.
When she returned to Ladnum after announcing her victory, she was dressed in the Rajasthani attire and was presented a sword and given the title ‘Veer Suja Singh Rajpurohit’. Thakur Bahadur Singh announced many privileges for her and these included the provision that apart from the royal family and the people paying her respect, all her decisions would be mandatory when solving women’s disputes and she would be specially invited to festivals organised in the kingdom.
It is said that around 1902, this brave female warrior breathed her last.