Kinkri Devi

Kinkri Devi

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Category: Environment

Kinkri Devi Profile

  • Name:
  • Kinkri Devi
  • Died:
  • December 30, 2007

Kinkri Devi Biography

Kinkri Devi was an Indian social activist and environmentalist. He waged a war on illegal mining and quarrying in Himachal Pradesh which is her native state. She is illiterate but learned to put signature a few years before her death. She lived in utter poverty and after the cover story of her life published in Punjabi newspaper, this was eased by a US based charity organization in Himachal Pradesh.

She was born in the village of Ghaton in the Sirmaur district in the year 1925. His father was a farmer. She belonged to the Dalit family who were considered to be untouchables. She started to work as a servant in homes during her childhood days. When she was 14 she was married to a bonded laborer Shamu Ram. When she was 22 her husband died of typhoid fever.

When she was doing the job as a sweeper she noticed that massive quarrying was taking place in some parts of Himachal Pradesh’s hills. This did harm to the water supply and caused the destruction of paddy fields. Kinkri Devi decided to take on the mining herself. She was backed by a local volunteering group called the People’s Action for People in Need. She filed a lawsuit in public interest in the High Court of Shimla against 48 mine owners. Her accusation was that the quarries were being reckless in their mining activities of limestone. However they denied all these allegations saying that she was blackmailing them.

As there was no virtual response for her suit, she went on a 19 day hunger strike out of the court. The court then took up the issue and she was made a national celebrity. In 1987 a stay on mining was ordered by the court. It imposed a ban of blasting the hills. When this was appealed to the Supreme Court of India by the miners in July 1995, their plea was rejected.

Hillary Clinton took interest on her and the same year she was called to attend the International Women’s Conference in Beijing. She lit the lamp in the beginning of the ceremony and spoke of the cause that she was fighting against. But still, illegal mining is carried on in the hilly region though not intensively. She had one son and 12 grandchildren. She died on 30th December 2007 in Chadigarh at the age of 82. She received Stree Shakti award in 1999. 


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Updated: August 24, 2011

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