Kinkri Devi ji was born in 1925 in Ghato village of Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh. She was an Indian activist and environmentalist known for waging a war against illegal mining and quarrying in her native state of Himachal Pradesh. Kinkri Devi ji did not know how to read and write. But still, she fought against the educated people doing wrong things. Kinkari Devi ji died on 30 December 2007 in Chandigarh. She learned to sign his name only a few years before his death.
Kinkri Devi Early Life
Kinkri Devi ji was born into a poor family, her father being a subsistence farmer by the Dalit, or untouchable, caste. Devi started working as a servant in his childhood and learned to work in people’s homes and do farming. Devi was married at the age of 14. She was married to Shamu Ram, a bonded laborer. Shamu Ram died of typhoid fever when she was 22 years old.
Fight Against Mining in Himachal
Kinkri Devi was a courageous and fearless woman. Their fight began when large-scale mining was going on in parts of the hills of Himachal Pradesh, damaging water supplies and destroying paddy fields. Distressed by this, Devi filed a Public Interest Litigation against 48 mine owners in the Shimla High Court. Devi accused all of them that the mines are being negligent in the mining of limestone, due to which they are suffering a lot. People’s Action for People in Need, a local NGO group, also supported Devi. But the group denied all allegations against her, claiming that she was only blackmailing them.
Activism: The court did not respond to her complaint, so Devi sat on a hunger strike outside the court for 19 days. The court then decided to take up the issue and Devi became a national figure. The court decided to take up all the grievances and issues Devi. Subsequently, in 1987, the court ordered a ban on mining and a complete ban on blasting in the hills. The mine owners appealed to the Supreme Court of India but the court dismissed their appeal in July 1995.
The then-First Lady Hillary Clinton showed interest in her and in the same year, Devi was invited to attend the International Women’s Conference in Beijing. In that ceremony, She was asked to light the lamp at the beginning of the ceremony. And there was a lot of stuff for the Kinkari. Devi then narrated how she fought against the mine owners and how it affected the common people.
However, despite the decision of the Supreme Court, illegal mining is still going on in hilly and forest-protected areas. But at that time all this had largely stopped. One of Devi’s other endeavors was to campaign for the creation of a degree-granting college in the Sangh. She didn’t want others to suffer the way she was made to suffer. After a long struggle, Devi died on 30 December 2007 at the age of 82.
In 1999, Kinkari Devi was awarded the Stree Shakti Puraskar by the Government of India.