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Khurshedben Naoroji

Bombay, Maharashtra

July 10, 2024 to July 10, 2026

Khurshedben Naoroji, born in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1894, was a talented soprano and a key figure in the Indian Independence Movement. Granddaughter of Dadabhai Naoroji, India's first nationalist leader and the first Indian in the British Parliament, she moved to Paris in the 1920s to study music. There, she met expatriate Eva Palmer Sikelianos, who influenced her return to India and Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram. Encouraging women's involvement in nationalist activities, she declared that Gandhian activism sparked "the great awakening of women."

Khurshedben became prominent in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP, now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) politics by the early 1930s. She befriended Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the "Frontier Gandhi," and was imprisoned several times by the British, once writing to Gandhi about enduring prison conditions. In 1930, she was arrested for hoisting the Indian flag at a Government College in Ahmedabad.

Gandhi tasked her with promoting Hindu-Muslim unity, a challenging mission due to people dacoits from Waziristan terrorizing local Hindus. Determined, she met with dacoits to promote Gandhian nonviolence. Her efforts led to a significant reduction in kidnappings and improved communal harmony, earning praise even from British authorities.

In a bold move, she attempted to rescue kidnapped Hindus in Waziristan but was arrested before crossing the border and remained imprisoned until 1944. After independence, Khurshedben worked for government commissions and resumed her singing career. Khurshedben Naoroji passed away in 1966.

Name mentioned in the book “Women in Satyagraha” by the Publications Division Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Government of India (Page no – 58).

Source: Nilkamal Maity, Contributor for CCRT.