Aruna Asaf Ali
Aruna Asaf Ali was a legendary leader of India's freedom struggle.She played a leading role during Quit India Movement; elected as Delhi’s first Mayor; awarded the Lenin Prize for peace in 1975 and the Jawahar Lal Nehru award for International understanding for 1991; honored with Bharat Ratna in 1998.
Recipient of the Lenin Prize for Peace and the Bharat Ratna, Aruna Asaf Ali was Delhi’s first Mayor. Born in 1909 in Kalka (now Haryana) in an orthodox Hindu Bengali family, she was educated in Lahore and Nainital. She married prominent Congressman Asaf Ali, 23 years her senior. Her family opposed the match on both religious and age grounds. She was first arrested during the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. She was again arrested in 1932. In Tihar Jail, she went on a hunger strike to protest the treatment to political prisoners. While conditions improved, she herself was put in solitary confinement in Ambala. She rose to legendary status by unfurling the national flag at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Mumbai to signify the commencement of the Quit India movement in 1942. At one stroke, she became heroine to thousands of youth. She had to go underground to evade arrest. Her property was seized by the government and sold off. She had a prize of Rs 5000 for her arrest. Gandhiji advised her to surrender when he learnt that she was unwell. However, she surrendered only after warrants against her were withdrawn in 1946. From the Congress Socialist Party, she eventually joined the Communist Party for a while. She was elected Mayor of Delhi in 1958, when she left the Communist Party, eventually rejoining the Congress in 1964, but not playing a part in active politics. She died in 1996.