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SUDHATAI JOSHI (1918–?)


Sudha Joshi, called ‘Sudhatai’ or ‘Aunt Sudha’, was a freedom fighter, and is mainly remembered for her part in the liberation struggle of Goa in 1955. She was born in the village of Priyol in Goa, to a middle class Chitpavan Brahmin family. She had no formal education though her father gave her some instruction till she was married at the age of 13 to Mahadev Shastri Joshi, a widower. In her husband’s house she had to look after two stepdaughters and her mother-in-law, but still found the time to read on her own in the epics and the works of Maharashtrian saints and poets. Slowly her outlook widened, and she began to shed orthodoxy for reformism.

Mahadev Shastri Joshi’s magnum opus was the Bharatiya Sanskriti Kosh (Encyclopaedia of Indian Culture). He was also a member of the banned Goan National Congress and followed the progress of the freedom struggle with interest. He wished to be in the front rank of the satyagraha but Sudhatai persuaded him to remain behind and work on the book. She herself took his place on the barricades.

On 6th April 1955 a Satyagraha was offered under the dynamic leadership of Sudhatai Joshi President of the NCG at Mapusa. Kumudini Paiguinker, Shalini Lolienker, Ambikabai Dandekar a 70 year old woman also participated in this Satyagraha. . Sudhatai was to address a meeting at Mapusa in Goa, and the authorities had prior word of this. They watched the borders carefully, hoping to intercept her, but she slipped through the cordon and managed to address the meeting. Scarcely had she begun, however, when the police broke up the meeting and she was arrested, tried and jailed for 12 years. There she campaigned to have the demonstrators treated as political prisoners. Pressure was brought to bear on the Portuguese government by the Indian government and other bodies, and Sudhatai was released in 1959. From then on she concentrated more on helping her husband with his researches and in publishing his books.
 
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