Kanpur: Lakshmi Sehgal, a close associate of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, died on Monday in Kanpur. The 97-year-old who was the first captain of Rani of Jhansi Regiment, the women's wing of Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army, had been ailing for some time and was undergoing treatment at the Kanpur Medical Centre.
Sehgal was admitted to the hospital after suffering a heart attack on Thursday and her blood pressure dropped alarmingly low on Friday. Her body will be donated to a medical college.
Sehgal was the Left Front candidate in the 2002 presidential election, but she lost to APJ Abdul Kalam.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered his condolence on her death. "In the passing away of Shrimati Lakshmi Sehgal the nation has lost an icon of liberal values and selfless service," said the Prime Minister.
Lakshmi Swaminathan Sehgal rose to the rank of a Colonel in the Indian National Army (INA). Born into a Tamil brahmin family in 1914, she obtained a medical degree and set up a clinic for the poor in Singapore in 1940.
An ardent follower of Netaji, she joined the INA and headed its Jhansi Rani Laxmi Bai Regiment. It was the first regiment headed by a woman in entire Asia.
After independence, she joined the CPM and was a member of Parliament.
A woman of great courage, committment and discipline Lakshmi Sehgal fought for the underprivileged and women's rights all through her life.
She contested as a Left sponsored candidate in the 2002 Presidential elections against APJ Abdul Kalam.
After the defeat she withdrew herself from the public life and spent her last years at daughter and Communist leader Subhashini Ali's house in Kanpur. She was truly a remarkable personality of the 20th century India.