It is a great pleasure to read the news in ‘’India Link International’’ issue of June-July that The High Commissioner of India in United Kingdom, H.E. Mr Navtej Sarna lauded the Parsi or Zoroastrian community for its role in India’s freedom struggle and in nation building process while he was speaking at the event held under the aegis of Zoroastrian All Party Parliamentary Group in association with the Zoroastrian Trust Fun of Europe at the committee hall of the British Parliament. on 25th April, 2016. Even though I am not a Parsi, It makes me so proud and happy whenever I hear such news as I hail from the same village Sanjan where the Zoroastrian people first landed and settled in India. Although Parsi or Zoroastrian community is a micro-minority in India, their contribution in every field of life to their once adopted motherland is immense and unmatched but Indian politics, politicians, diplomats and media have always ignored or have not given much importance like other minorities as this micro-minority is not a vote bank for them. Whenever you hear read the comments in media or speeches in public they all talk about ‘’Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai…’’ but never or hardly hear the word Parsi added to that popular political and social phrase as if this small but very strong and leading minority does not exist in Indian. This is a fact and a bitter truth and such stereotype and passive attitude of Indian political mind must be changed for good and for ever.
I was surprised and shocked to read in that news that Indian High Commissioner of London H.E. Mr Navtej Sarana who lauded the Parsi community for its role in Indian Freedom Struggle mentioned the contribution of Zoroastrian leaders belonged to Indian National Congress like Dadabhai Naoroji and Pherozeshah Mehta but did not say a word about Mother of Indian Revolution, Madam Bhikhaiji Cama, a Parsi lady and Mr Manchershah Godrej of Godrej business empire in India. It seems that the tradition of ignoring and devaluing other freedom fighters and revolutionaries by Indian National congress after Indian Independence is still carried on by the bureaucrats of Indian Government and it is still in action and clicking in the reign of so called Indian Nationalist Party BJP. Madam Bhikhaiji Cama and Mr Manchershah Godre, who belonged to Parsi community or Zoroastrian faith, fought for Indian Freedom Movement along with Pandit Shyamaji Krishnavarma in London, the heart of British Empire. It is all forgotten that Madame Bhikhaiji Cama, a brave daughter of India who unfurled the first flag of Indian Independence at International Congress of Socialists in Stuttgart in 1907 and publicly demanded the freedom of India from British despotism. This was eight years before Gandhiji entered into the arena of Indian Freedom Movement in India. How conveniently Madame Bhikhaiji Cama was forgotten again!
Among the forgotten or deliberately made forgotten heroes and heroines of Indian freedom Movement, Madame Bhikhaiji Cama is one of them. It is the most unfortunate and shameful page of Indian Freedom History that Freedom Fighter Revolutionary Heroes Like Pandit Shyamaji Krishnavarma, Mr Har Daya, Vir Savarkar, Neta Subhashchandra Bose, Maharshi Arvind Ghosh, Bhagha Jatin, Virendra Chattopadhyay, Bhagat Singh, and Heroines like Madam Cama, Laxmi Saigal, Pritilata Waddedar, Maharani Lakshmibai, Durgabhabhi etc. who sacrificed their life for the freedom were not given place and honour deliberately to give prominence, importance and full credit to the selected leaders of Indian National Congress only. The people of India and Indian community living in United Kingdom should know that The Hall of Fame at India House, High Commission of India in London, which is full of the statues (some in enormous size!) and some portraits of Indian freedom fighters belonged to Indian National Congress only and it has no place for other Indian Freedom fighter revolutionaries like Madame Cama, Pandit Shyamaji Krishnavarma, Saradarsinh Rana and Vir Savarkar who started freedom movement and agitated and fought against British in London at least fifteen years before Gandhiji entered into Indian freedom politics. It is a shame that the proposal for erecting the statue of Pandit Shyamaji Krishnavarma, the Guru of Madame Cama and other revolutionary freedom fighters and founder of ‘’Indian Home Rule Society’’, India House’’ hostel and Indian sociologist’’ newspaper in London in 1905, was not even considered by the High commission of India in London. We have to watch and see if BJP led government would take any positive action and honour those deserving Indian freedom fighter revolutionaries, who lived and fought for Indian freedom in London, by erecting their statues in The Hall of Fame at India House, Indian High Commission in London.
Madame Bhikhaiji Cama was the one and only greatest Indian Freedom Fighter woman whom India and Zoroastrian or Parsi community ever produced. She was the first Indian woman freedom fighter succeeding Maharani Lakshmibai of Jhasi to fight against British Empire. She was a fire brand lady who shook the British Empire and British official branded her as the most dangerous Indian Lady.
Bhikhaiji was born in Mumbai on 24th September, 1861 in very rich Parsi or Zoroastrian family whose ancestors hailed from Persia now Iran. They had to flee their motherland to escape from the religious persecution of Islamic tyranny and to save their freedom, honour and beloved religion Zoroastrianism. They took refuge and shelter under the kingdom of a kind king Jado or Jadavji Rana of Sanjan, Gujarat State, India. Her father Sorabji Framji Patel was well known and leading businessman of Mumbai and her mother’s name was Jijibai. She was educated at Alexandra Native Girls Education Institute in Mumbai. She was independent, smart, strong-minded, clever, well-mannered and well behaved but revolting little girl. Although she was brought up in westernized life style which was popular among rich Parsi families in that era, she was very patriotic and had a great passion and love for her motherland, its culture, tradition and languages. She took pride in being Indian and she remained Indian by heart during her whole life. She had a great interest social work and serving needy people and in politics from her early age. When Bhikhaiji’s was 24 years old her father Sorabji Patel found suitable bridegroom Mr Rustomji Cama, a charming, good looking and educated son of the wealthiest and well known Parsi businessman, a media tycoon, renowned orientalist and scholar Mr Khurshedji R. Cama, for his beloved daughter Bhikhoo. They got married on 3rd August 1885. Although both families of high status in society hoped for their happy married life, their marriage was not turned out to be very happy due to their differences in interests, thinking and ideology as Bhikhaiji was a staunch nationalist and social worker while her husband held conservative views and he was pro-British and carrier oriented. Their strained relationship gradually drifted away due to domestic, personal and political reasons but they never divorced and lived under one roof and carried their activities independently and later separated…
When the severe epidemic of Bubonic Plague started in Mumbai and Poona in 1896, she rushed herself with all devotion and hard work to nurse the sick and dying victims of this dangerous Plague disease without any second thought of a danger being infected by the disease in close contacts with the victims. She witnessed the brutal, unsympathetic, discriminatory and inhumane treatment of the Indian Victims of plague by British officers and British people. She saw the atrocities committed to innocent poor Indians by British police and army and deliberate harassment waged on to ordinary Indians under the law of plague control. She experienced the carelessness of oppressive and despotic British Government during the epidemic period and during famine and economic depression which created deep scar and some bitter anger against the British Government within her sympathetic and sensitive heart. The growing bitter anti –British feelings and cry for freedom among Indian people created some storm and turbulence in the mind of young Bhikhaiji Cama, The Indian Florence Nightingale. She was very much impressed and attracted to the ideology of valiant freedom fighters like Tilak and Aurobindo Ghosh, before she decided to take active part in Indian Freedom politics.
Bhikhaiji encountered some serious health problem and she had to leave India for England for a surgical operation in 1901. After recovering from her operation she decided to stay in England for a while and she assisted Dadabhai Naoroji, the leading Indian National Congress leader and a family friend, in his work as his assistant. Later she was planning to return to India but she accidently came in contact with Pandit Shyamaji Krishnavarma, a Sanskrit scholar and staunch Indian revolutionary living in London. Bhikhaiji Cama heard his fiery speech on the subject of British despotism in India and his call for the support of progressive British people for the cause of India’s emancipation which was delivered in the open and free atmosphere of Hyde Park. This speech created the volcanic fire of nationalism in her heart and she came under the spell of Pandit Shyamaji’s ideology. She was very much impressed and influenced by Pandit Shyamaji’s speech and she decided to join him in his mission to free their motherland from the tyranny of British Imperialism. Bhikhaiji dropped her plan to return to India and joined Pandit Shyamaji Krishnavarma in his mission as comrade to achieve the goal. She devoted herself to the cause and started helping Pandit Shyamaji. Her devotion, dedication and hard work earned her the position of one of the cardinal disciples of Pandit Shyamaji in no time. Bhikhaiji was in close contact with fellow Zoroastrian and family friend Mr Dadabhai Naoroji since she came to London. Dadabhai was a leader and a representative of Indian National congress in London and he was fighting for the Indian cause but his philosophy and congress ideology could not impress or fascinate Bhikhaji Cama, She used to help him in his other work but she never became a member of his institution. Later, Dadabhai Naoroji’s grand-daughters Perin, Goshi and Nargez Naoroji were s under the influence of Madame Cama while living in Paris and they had adopted revolutionary Ideology from her.
Pandit Shyamaji had already established his mission and Saradar Sinh Rana was already ordained in his mission as one of principal disciple long before Bhikhaiji Cama joined. Pandit Shyamaji had now found two most capable and dedicated comrades as his right and left hand which had strengthened his hands to expand very fast. This trio of Pandit Shyamaji, Bhikhaiji Cama and S.R. Rana had become the Trident to destroy the despotic rule of British Empire in India. Pandit Shyamaji Krishnavarma first launched his fire brand anti-British and anti-colonial English monthly newspaper ‘’The Indian Sociologist’’ in January 2005 and he officially launched a revolutionary organization called ‘’Indian Home Rule Society’’ to demand complete Home Rule (Sampurna Swarajya) for India on 15th February 1905. He bought a large property and converted it into a students’ hostel for travelling Indian student. This India Students’ Hostel was named ‘’India House’’ and it was inaugurated by British politician and true friend of India Mr Henry Mayer Hyndman on 1st July 1905. Bhikhaiji Cama gave considerable help to Pandit Shyamaji in his projects and worked restlessly to make it a success. She occasionally wrote in Pandit Shyamaji’s ‘’The Indian Sociologist’’ too.
Pandit Shyamaji cleverly transformed his disciple Madam Bhikhaiji Cama, a sympathetic, kind and warm hearted lady, into a staunch, strong fearless Indian Freedom Fighter Revolutionary in very short period by bombarding his ideology in her mind and heart… Bhikhaiji mastered the lessons of nationalism, freedom and revolution from her political Guru Pandit Shyamaji Krishnavarma and she soon became a staunch and dedicated supporter of Shyamaji, his thoughts and his mission. Although Bhikhaiji had great respect for Dadabhai Naoroji, she criticised the way his journal ‘’India’ conducted the campaign on Indian freedom affairs in very soft manner. She was of an opinion that the India congress leaders and their followers under the leadership and ownership of retired Anglo-Indians, his master’s voice of British Empire, would never advance the Indian cause of Independence very soon. She had no faith in their pleading; petitioning and praying method of Congress to convince British Government as it did not brought any fruitful result for their legitimate and just requests. She disagreed with the belief of Dadabhai Naoroji that the battle of Indian Independence could be fought in England in the House of Commons by arguing, pleading, petitioning and praying to the British Government in Parliament. She was convinced that the forceful intervention backed by arms could only overthrow the mighty British Empire in India to bring end to British despotism and this armed battle must be fought on the soil of India against British. She publicly criticised the propaganda programme of congress and she publicly denounced the majority of Indian leaders by saying that most of Indian leaders of I.N.C. lacked the spirit of sacrifice and renunciation in the race of their personal interests, gains, fames and titles. Madam Cama was highly critical of the moderate group of Congress and she denounced their idiotic belief of achieving reforms peacefully through constitutional means by collaborating with the government.
Madame Cama spent great deal of her time in helping Pandit Shyamaji inn his organizational work along with establishing contacts with other organizations and young Indian students in United Kingdom. She got on very well with not only the young resident students of India House but also other Indian students studying in England too. She was so popular among young Indian student community and she became well known as the mother of young Indian revolutionaries in London. She regularly delivered inflammatory speeches against British rule in India at Hyde Park in London to gather the support of progressive and sympathetic British people. She joined Fabian Movement to widen the horizon of her activities and create more contact to get support from others for the cause of the freedom of India. Madam Cama looked after the management of ‘’Indian Home Rule Society’’ without holding any position. She used to smuggle in numerous material on freedom and hundreds of issues of Indian Sociologist to India to create national uprising in India. She always had women’s issues at her heart and she was very active participant in women’s movement. She had attended a meeting of International Council for women in 1906.
She worked very hard along with Pandit Shyamaji and others in London to raise awareness of Indian economic problems and dictatorship of British rule in India. She moved permanently to Paris when Pandit Shyamaji secretly shifted his head quarter to Paris to avoid his arrest in 1907. Pandit Shyamaji and Bhikhaiji Cama joined S R Rana and Manchershah, who had already moved to Paris earlier and had started the movement in Paris. They soon stablished the head quarter here in Paris, France, a land of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and got busy with their mission of revolutionary activities. Bhikhaiji nurtured close contacts with many French politicians and Irish, Egyptian and Persian freedom fighters and Russian revolutionaries living in exile in France. She had very close friendship and link with Irish freedom fighters like Countess Mrkieviecz and Maud Gonne who were fighting the cause for the freedom of Ireland and campaigning in France to secure sympathy and support for members of Sinn Fein suffering in British prison. She secretly continued to send anti-British, anti-Colonial and pro-independence literatures and even Bombs, ammunition and pistols to Indian Revolutionaries of Bengal and Maharashtra.
When Pandit Shyamaji sent Bhikhaiji Cama to Stuttgart, Germany to attend ‘’International Socialists Conference’’ in August,1907 as a representative of India, She made a history there by delivering a bitter and fiery speech against despotic rule of British Empire in India in the front of 1000 delegates from all over the world. Concluding her speech, Madam Cama unfurled the first tricolour flag of Indian Independence with the inscription of Vande Mataram’’ on the international platform first time in the history of freedom movement. She was received with big cheers and loud applause from the audience. Although the resolution of Mr Henry Hyndman, a British friend of India, to free India from British Imperialism and despotism was allowed to be read at the conference but it was not allowed to put to the vote on objection from the British delegates including Ramsay MacDonald, future P M of Britain, on the technical ground. But the president of the International Socialist Congress Mr Paul Singer, a German Socialist, declared that ‘’the spirit of the Resolution is approved by the Bureau of the Conference. This was the greatest achievement and success of Madame Cama and the Indian Revolutionary group of Paris. It was the biggest achievement of Indian revolutionaries and Madam Cama in particular in highlighting India’s case on the world forum. After this event in Stuttgart, Madam Cama had made a custom to unfurl this flag at her public address. The citizens of free India must remember that when this great event happened Gandhiji did not even entered the Indian Freedom Movement politics and Nehru was just a teenager.
After her great success at Stuttgart Conference in Germany, Bhikhaiji Cama went to America in October 1907 on her mission of raising awareness among Americans about the despotic rule of British Government, Barbaric and inhumane treatment of Indian people under British rule and social, political and economic situation in India. Her main purpose of lecturing tour in America was to make propaganda for Indian Revolution. She launched tireless campaign of Interviews, speeches and meetings with the help of Indian Nationalists living in America and Mr Myron H Phelp, American lawyer and staunch supporter of Indian freedom movement. Madam Cama expressed the plight, aspiration and agony of India in her interview to Sun newspaper of New York. She emphasized her political Guru Pandit Shyamaji’s philosophy of passive resistance and non-violence to accomplish bloodless overthrow British rule in India by unifying people and refusing to work for British. Although she expressed her primary option of passive resistance and non-violence she never ruled out to secondary option of bloody armed revolution if required to fight force by super force. Madame Cama also addressed the members of prestigious Minerva Club of America at Waldorf Astoria Hotel on 28th October 1907. She had a great courage to endorse the greatest culture of India and criticised Christianity for their forceful conversion of deeply spiritual people of India at the point of bayonet in one of her interview even though she knew that America is predominant Christian country.
Madame Cama travelled all over America during her lecturing tour and appealed American people and people from Indian origin to help and unite in their struggle to liberate India from the clutches of British despotism and oppression. She had a great success in uniting India people living in America and inspiring them to fight for the freedom of India. Her visit to America helped a lot to create a huge awareness and understanding about India and its condition in the minds of ignorant America people and to gather sympathy for the cause. ‘’Gaelic American’’, an Irish nationalist newspaper published from New York, who had been very sympathetic and supportive to Pandit Shyamaji’s mission of Indian freedom movement and had been in constant touch with him, created an atmosphere more favourable by publishing articles on India and providing coverage to Madam Bhikhaiji’s visit to America. The goodwill, friendship and growing relations between Gaelic America and its editor Mr George Freeman, other Irish nationalists, Mr M H Phelp and other America citizens with Indian Nationalists living in America led to the formation of a joint organizations like Indo-American Societies and The Indo American National Association founded by M H Phelps. Madam Cama was instrumental in bonding a bridge between many Indian organizations and American Organizations who were sympathetic towards Indian national aspirations. American media heralded Madam Cama as the Indian Joan of Arc and the fieriest woman of the age.
After returning from America she continued her regular activities as usual for the cause of freedom. She established very close relation with Russian Nationalist and anarchists and arranged the training of young Indian nationalists in bomb making and use of ammunitions. She was in close contact with the members Egyptian National Party and attended their meetings and gatherings too. She went to Brussels to attend their conference when French Government prohibited their public meetings in France. She delivered a volcanic speech and said that ‘’ only bombs and revolvers are the proper answer for foreign occupation.’’ Madam Cama developed close contacts with Turks and Russians revolutionaries. She developed close friendship with Russian revolutionary Mikhail Pavlovich, a Russian Revolutionary and bomb expert living in exile in Paris. Madam Cama learnt a great deal about Russian revolution. She was in constant touch with Maxim Gorky, a world famous Russia writer, by letters. Her correspondence with Gorky and a famous photograph of Madam Cama holding first flag of Indian Independence with her famous quote ‘’ Resistance to Tyranny is obedience to God ‘’ are s are preserved in Gorky Museum in Moscow. Maxim Gorky requested Madam Cama to write an article on the subject of ‘’The Indian Women’’ for Russian press.
Bhikhaiji, once kind and compassionate woman, was transformed into a brave and fearless revolutionary. She expressed her bold and fearless view in support of violence and a rebellion against British tyranny in her Bande Mataram newspaper saying ’’ Tyranny is tyranny, and torture is torture where ever applied. Success justified any action. The struggle for freedom calls for exceptional measures. Successful rebellion against the foreign rule is patriotism.’’ At the meeting of London Indian Society held at Essex Hall , Strand on 20th February 1909 she delivered a lecture where she said, ’’Force and violence had become inevitable and without their use liberty was a dream and mere farce.’’
Madam Bhikhaiji Cama started a radical newspaper monthly called ‘’Bande Mataram’’ on 10th September 1909 as a reincarnation of Auribindo Ghosh’s ‘Bande Mataram’’ once published from Calcutta. Her motto in publishing Bande Mataram was to start relentless propaganda against British rule in India. She paid befitted homage and tribute to Martyr Madanlala Dhingra in her article titled ‘’Dhingra the Immortal’’ in her first issue of Bande Mataram and praised his sacrifice. Madam Cama’s Bande Mataram was the most extreme publication of Indian Freedom movement openly challenging and preaching violence and terror against British government in India. It is considered as a hard core revolutionary newspaper of Indian Independence Movement. Madame Cama personally financed, published and distributed Savarakar’s ‘The Indian War of Independence 1857’ in English, French and other European languages. She also took responsibility of supervision and distribution of another short lived publication ‘’Talwar’’ started by fellow revolutionary Virendra Chattopadhyay from Berlin.
When Savarakar was arrested on 13th March 1910 in London after returning from Paris, Madame Cama put all her time, energy, resources and money to secure his release. Madam Cama and other nationalists from Paris group tried very hard to secure Savarkar’s freedom in London and. after his miraculous escape from S S Moira during his transportation to face charges in India but unfortunately they lost the appeal in International court at Hague due to cunning diplomacy of British Government. Madam Cama kept regular contacts with other young Indian revolutionaries like Hr Dayal, Madhav Rao, V V S Aiyer, M P T Acharya and many more others who were scattered around the globe. She regularly sent financial helps to those revolutionary and their family too. She visited Berlin in early 1909 to establish friendly relationship with Germans to seek help from them for Indian cause. He travelled different cities in Germany and delivered numerous lectures to enlighten German people about India and its political and economic condition under British rule.
After shifting the head quarter of Nationalist activities to Paris, India House was under the supervision and charge of Vir Savarkar and Madame Cama and S R Rana used to visit occasionally as Pandit Shyamaji could not visit England as he would be getting arrest for sedition charges. After the assassination of Sir Curzon-Wyllie, political aide-de-camp to the Secretary of State for India, by martyr Madanlal Dhingra, India House was closed down. Madam Cama financially helped Savarkar and other students to relocate as she had a great affection for the young revolutionaries. She regularly sent financial help to Savarkar’s family in India and bore the expense of Vir Savarkar’s trial at International court of Justice at Hague.
Although Indian Revolutionaries and their leaders enjoyed their freedom and hospitality under the patronage of French Socialist Government and their leaders for seven years , British Government tried their all the tricks and tactics through their diplomatic channel to convince the French Government that Indian revolutionaries in Paris under the leadership of Pandit Shyamaji, Madam Cama and S R Rana were the most dangerous people and they must be extradited for their crimes against British Government but the intervention of powerful French Socialists like Jean Jaures and Jean Longuet who had a great sympathy for and support towards Indian Revolutionaries and close friendship with Shyamaji, Rana and Cama often saved them from British Hawks. British Government did not succeed in their dirty tricks but they instructed their diplomats to keep close watch on all Indian revolutionaries through their secret agents.
As the presence of Indian nationalist in Paris would be seriously jeopardised by the outbreak of a European war and the visit of King George to Paris to set a final seal of Entente Cordiale in 1914, Pandit Shyamaji Krishnavarma foresaw the fate of their mission and shifted his headquarter to Geneva. He insisted to Madan Cama and Sardarsinh Rana to move to Geneva with him but they were over confident and had decided to say in Paris. When Indian troops of British army arrived in France, S R Rana tried to contact them. He was got arrested by French police due to pressure from British Government. S R rana was interned at Bordeaux on 6th October 1914. Madame Bhikhaiji Cama was taken by French Police to Bordeaux on 1st November 1914. The British Foreign office wanted both of them extradited but French did not honour the request of British Government as they had earned bad reputation in the world in the case of Vir Savarkar and the French Government could not afford to ignore the tremendous support of French Socialists given to Indian revolutionary leaders living in France. As a result of this, French Government refused to hand over Madam Cama and Mr Rana to British Government and alternatively interned they in France during the whole period of First World War and they were allowed to go back to Paris in the beginning of 1919 after war was over. The stress during her internment of over four years had affected her health badly as she was now fifty eight years old lady. Although she had a great courage and vigour in her heart to do more for the cause of Indian Independence, she had to continue her mission with some limitation.
Madame Bhikhaiji Cama was very patriotic and stubborn woman. When Harindranathn Chattopadhyay, an well-known actor, poet, dramatist, and musician and a brother of Revolutionary Virendra Chattopadhyay and POET Sarojini Naidu met her in Paris in 1923, Madame Bhikhaiji Cama told him that ‘’she had taken an oath never to go back to India on a foreign passport. I will therefore remain here as long as I am unable to secure an Indian visa.’’ What a patriotic feelings and firm conviction she had just like her political Guru Pandit Shyamaji!
Unfortunately, Madam Cama was suffering from facial paralysis for many years and taxi accident later caused fracture in her skull which made her to be confined in bed most of the time in her last days of her life. As she realized that her end is coming nearer, she made pre-death arrangements with Pere-la-Chaise cemetery, Boulevard de Ménilmontant, Paris and purchased a land and got her gravestone engraved with slogan ‘’ Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God’’ in French. The pieces of the engraved marble gravestone with this inscription are still on the spot of the land in the cemetery where her brother’s grave was erected.
Madam Bhikhaiji Cama spent more than half of her life in exile in England and France and she could not return to India which might have made her homesick. Her ailing health and disability made her to feel very sentimental and emotional to return to her motherland in her last days of life which might have change her strong and committed mind to break her oath and conviction not to return India until it became Independent. She expressed her last wish to her friends but heartless, inhumane and unsympathetic British Government refused the permission to Madame Bhikhaiji Cama to travel to India. After intervention of influential Paris Friends in Paris and Sir Cowasji Jehangir, British Government demanded a written guarantee from Madame Cama, a lady who was disabled, aged, weak, fragile, and seriously ill and almost confined to bed, that she would not hold any meeting or make any speeches or take part in any political activities. This would be the biggest insult, cruelty and humiliation inflicted by British Government to a disabled and old aged lady of seventy four ever recorded in the history of humanity and British Empire! Proud, independent, self-respected and staunch patriotic lady Madame Bhikhaiji Cama initially refused to surrender to foreign ruler of her motherland but after the persuasion from close friends She reluctantly signed the guarantee papers with tears of humiliation in her eyes and deep dejection in her heart to return to India to full fill the last wishes of her soul to die in her motherland. Madame Bhikhaiji Cama arrived in Mumbai in November 1935 accompanied by Sir Cowasji Jehangir. She was immediately admitted to Parsee General Hospital, Mumbai on her arrival to India and she died on 13th August 1936 at the age of 75 years in isolation. The loyalist leadership of congress did not even pay homage or respect publicly and Gandhiji did not utter a word of sorrow or shed a drop of tear for the loss of the greatest woman freedom fighter Revolutionary Madam Bhikhaiji Cama. .
After independence of India, the names of the great freedom fighter revolutionaries like Pandit Shyamaji Krishnavarma, Madam Bhikhaiji, Neta Subhash Chandra Bose, Ras Bihari Bose, Hardayal, Maharshi Aurobindo Ghosh etc. who sacrificed their life for the freedom of India were brushed under the carpet and made them forgotten deliberately and systematically by deleting or hiding their great contribution from the history of Indian Independence. The congress led government after independence gave their very few selected heroes all the credits for the Indian Independence and erected thousands of memorial statues of those selected heroes of Indian freedom movement belonged to National Congress only. It is a shameful episode that there is not a single memorial statue of Madam Cama, a Florence Nightingale of India and Mother of Indian revolution, is erected by the Government of India until to date.
The truth cannot be hidden or supressed for very long. It comes out in open sooner or later. People in India have now realised the conspiracy and now the cry is getting louder and louder day by day to revive the memories of those ignored, forgotten and unsung heroes and heroines of India and to give them befitted respect, honour and credit they deserve as other heroes like Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru. We hope and pray that the rewriting and reconciling of the history of Indian Independence would be seriously undertaken under the a reign of so called Nationalist Government of BJP to provide deserved respect, honour and credit to all those forgotten heroes and heroines of Indian Freedom Movement irrespective of their affiliation, group or ideology It would be a great idea of introducing the photographs of all leading Indian freedom fighters and revolutionaries instead of just Gandhiji. Such action taken by the treasury would not only provide great tributes to those freedom fighters bust also constantly remind the people of India of their sacrifice they rendered for the motherland. . This year is the year of Madame Bhikhaiji’s 80th death Anniversary and 155th birth anniversary so patriotic people of India would love to see the present government of India erecting a splendid and beautiful memorial statue of Madame Cama to start a new era.
I am glad that I had an opportunity to display my exhibition on Life and work of Madam Bhikhaiji Cama at Zoroastrian House in the year of 101st anniversary of unfurling the first tricolour flag of Indian independence by Madam Bhikhaiji Cama. Then I had put forward a suggestion to erect a memorial statue of Madam Cama at Zoroastrian House and to take a project of erecting memorial plaque at the house where Madame Cama lived in London at 44 St. Marks Road in The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. We hope that the Zoroastrian Trust Fund of Europe and Lord Karan Bilimoria, Baron Bilimoria of Chelsea and a leading businessman of Zoroastrian community in London would works positively towards this noble cause of honouring the greatest personality of their community Madame Bhikhaiji Cama on her 80th Death Anniversary this year.
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