Monday, August 29, 2016



( Man-Mohini , Shyama , Janak and their mother Lado Rani )


                           ( Photo Ladli Prasad Zutshi )

     ( Photo ..Lado Rani Zutshi   daughter of Jeevan Lal Tikku  ..  1882-1968  )
                               ( Photo Man Mohini Zutshi )
                               ( Photo Janak Kumari Zutshi )
  ( Photo Chandra Kumari   with her husband Sri krishna Handoo )
                                        ( Chandra Kumari )
                                 ( Shyama Zutshi )


( Man-Mohini , Shyama , Janak and their mother Lado Rani  )

They were four sisters. Man Mohini, Shyama, Janak Rani and  Chandra Kumari.This  Zutshi family  of Lahore   was closely related to Pandit Nehru . Man Mohini, Shyama and Janak Rani were adventurous  and highly  talented girls  .The Zutshi  sisters knew horse riding , dancing , bicycling and also took lesson in music .
Hailing from an affluent Kashmiri Pandit family of Lahore , these  girls   were  modern , educated  and enterprising . Ladli Prasad Zutshi ( 1875-1954 ) ,  their father was a reputed barrister of Lahore . This Zutshi family was from Allahabad.Ladli Prasad Zutshi was also enrolled at Allahabad bar .In 1917, he along with his family moved permanently to settle in  Lahore . He was a nephew of Moti Lal Nehru.

Chandra Kumari was a little shy type of girl .Chandra Kumari (born 1903)  was married at a very young age to Sri Krishna Handoo who belonged to a respectable Kashmiri Pandit. family. She died in 1968.

Shyama  did her BA and joined  Hindi cinema . She was the first   Kashmiri Pandit  girl to join films . She  left the cinema and plunged herself into the  freedom struggle of the country .Shyama (1910 -1953) was  married in an affluent Punjabi Khatri  family and was later  known as Shyama Chopra . Her husband Suraj Prakash Chopra was a navy officer.A daughter was also born to them in 1947 whom they fondly named Bittoni.Bittoni also died in 2009.

And Man Mohini ( born 1909 ) is reported to be the most rebellious child in the Zutshi family.She was born In Anand Bhawan  , Allahabad. She happened to be the favourite niece of Moti Lal Nehru .She was married in Sehgal family from Punjab and later came to be known as Man Mohini Zutshi Sehgal .Man Mohini was also a post graduate in history .
Man Mohini married Amrit Lal Sehgal ,a chartered accountant who took emplyment with the  central government . She wrote her autobiography also  and died in 1994.

Janak Kumari  Zutshi was a post graduate in English and taught at  the Govt College for Women,  Lahore ( Joined in 1930 and later resigned to join freedom struggle  ) . Janak Kumari fell in love with Dr Jalil Asghar and  married  him . She came to be known as Janak Kumari Asghar. Along with her husband , she moved to Pakistan in 1952 and the family settled at  Lahore. Ali Asghar was ICS officer.She did not convert to  Islam and involved herself with social work and educating women.Indira Ji sent a personal invitation to her to join Rajeev Gandhi's marriage and she happily came to India for the family reunion .She died in 1997 in  Lahore  .

In an interview a few months before her death, a bed ridden Janaki recalled: “My grandmother and Moti Lal Nehru were siblings. Indira was my cousin. I lost touch with her after my marriage. Her behaviour was different then the rest of the family. She genuinely welcomed me and was extremely happy to see me when I went to attend her son’s wedding.”

The  sisters usually visited posh  Mall Road,  Lahore  for shopping along with their mother  Lado Rani Zutshi ( Tikku )  .Lado Rani was the daughter of Jeevan Lal Tikku of Allahabad. There used to be a hotel  known as “ ARAB HOTEL “ in Lahore before 1947 .  It was just opposite Islamia College  .This hotel was frequented by elite of the city  including prominent artists,writers, poets and intellectuals. Zutshi sisters  would be seen in this hotel along with their  Mother .

And then one day everything changed suddenly . A  lecture By Mahatma Gandhi in Lahore ( that these sisters heard  with their mother ) changed their lives  .Influenced by Moti Lal Nehru and their their parents, Shyama and Man Mohini  were   already organizing agitations and picketing against the  British rule  during their college days . Shyama  finally left films . Along with their mother, these  three  sisters  plunged totally  into freedom movement .  Chandra Kumari remained a housewife whille all other sisters plunged into the freedom struggle of the country .

Following Gandhi’s Salt March in 1930, Man Mohini organized protests, demonstrations,  courted arrest, and was sentenced to prison on three separate occasions.

As a matter of fact, Lado Rani had joined Congress Party in 1919 and was actively involved in freedom struggle .Her close associates were Kartar Kour and Parvati both eminent freedom fighters from Punjab. Parvati was Daughter of Lala Lajpat Rai.

On 15th December 1929,  A grand  flag hoisting function was organised at Lahore by freedom fighters .  Sardar Mangal Singh took about 2000 Congress volunteers under his command and joined this event that was attended by almost all stalwarts of freedom movement that included Maulana Azad , M A Ansari , Saif ud din Kitchloo ,Sarojini Naidu , Moti Lal Nehru , Jawahar Lal Nehru ,Madan Mohan Malviya ,Jamna Lal Bajaj , Srinivasa Iyengar , Vallabh Bhai Patel and many more   . Sardar Mangal Singh  had carved out a 'Women Brigade ' from  among his  volunteers  . This brigade had many women including all the three Zutshi sisters and their mother Lado Rani.

I quote Sardar  Mangal Singh  GOC Congress  Volunteers , Lahore session  :

“ I had two main lady volunteers  as commanders . Lajya wati and Lado Rani Zutshi. Lado Rani had brought her three daring daughters also.  They were educated and fashionable . The call of  Mahatma made the family to forget all comforts . A session was held on the banks of Ravi till 12 o’clock. It was a grand success . Pandit Nehru unfurled the national flag.  Forgetting comforts , every leader had his entire family in the movement . Dr N S Hardikar was there . Pandit Ji danced in happiness with the volunteers of freedom struggle. I remember the Pathan dance that was performed by the volunteers  ”

I quote From Bharti Thakur's book " Women In Gandhi's Mass Movement " ( Refer page 93 )..

" On July 9, 1930 , Shyama Zutshi and Man Mohini along  with 25  other volunteers from Ambala and Shimla  picketed at  the gate of the  assembly   in Shimla along with other volunteers of the  Congress committee . They went  in groups of two or three  with  black flags  hidden under the folds of their   Sarees and stood outside the gate of the assembly hall. As soon as Viceroy  Lord Irwin came out , they took out their black flags and shouted " IRWIN GO BACK ". Forthwith they formed a small procession and marched to the Mall singing National songs .Back In Lahore , Man Mohini  , who was also the president of  the students union called for  a complete Hartaal on  8th  October , 1930 as a protest against death sentences imposed on Bhagat Singh ,Sukhdev and Rajjguru and decided to picket Govt College for Men , Forman Christian College and the Law  College . Shyama also joined and  these sisters along with other women volunteers  stood at the gates of these colleges challenging the students to enter . Soon the police arrived and arrested them. When Janak Kumari heard all this , she resigned from the post of  English lecturer at  Govt College for Women, Lahore  and offered herself to court arrest. "

Zutshis had close and cordial  relations with noted artist A R Chugtai and his  family.They were also close to artist Amrita Shergil's family..

( Avtar Mota )

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