Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

Unsung Heroes Detail

Paying tribute to India’s freedom fighters

Aruna Asaf Ali

Panchkula, Haryana

November 11, 2021 to December 30, 2021

Aruna Asaf Ali was an Indian educator, political activist, and publisher. An active participant in the Indian independence movement, she is widely remembered for hoisting the Indian National flag at the Gowalia Tank maidan, Bombay during a Quit India Movement in 1942, giving the movement one of it’s most long-lasting image.

She became a member of Indian National Congress and participated in public processions during the Salt Satyagraha. She was arrested, and not released in 1931 under the Gandhi-Irwin Pact which stipulated release of all political prisoners. Other women co-prisoners refused to leave the premises unless she was also released and gave in only after Mahatma Gandhi intervened.

She was politically not very active after her release, until 1942. Known for her independent streak, she even disobeyed Gandhi’s request to surrender herself in 1946.

Post-independence, she remained active in politics, becoming Delhi's first Mayor.She was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1992 and the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1997.