One of the unsung heroes who helped India achieve independence from Great Britain is Netaji Subash Chander Bose who revamped the Indian National Army (INA). But there was another individual who assisted him.
That was Saraswathi Rajamani, possibly the youngest ever female spy
Rajamani spied on the British for the INA following her recruitment 1942 in the Rani Jhansi Brigade. For a few years, she spied on British operations in Myanmar and other theaters of war during the Second World War.
She and other female colleagues impersonated boys and amassed intelligence. When posing as a boy, her name was Mani. Once, one of her colleagues was captured by British soldiers.
Rajamani infiltrated the British camp dressed as a dancer, drugged the officers who were in charge and freed her associate. She was shot in the leg but escaped being captured. Her labors in the INA ended when Netaji disbanded the INA when the Second World War ended.
Rajamani was born in 1927 in what was then Burma in a family that owned a gold mine. Her family relocated after moving from Trichy and were ardent supporters of the freedom struggle and had moved to Burma to escape arrest by the British.
Her family was liberal and had no curtailments on girls. Since her father already respected Indian freedom fighters, she was raised in an environment where patriotism and the fight for freedom were always held in respect.
When she was 10, Mahatama Gandhi visited her parents’ home in then Rangoon. Rajamani’s entire household assembled to see Gandhi except for Rajamani.
The family began a search joined by Gandhi. The 10-year-old was found in the garden refining her shooting abilities with her father’s firearm.
Gandhi attempted to teach her non-violence, but Rajamani did not buy it. She replied that the British were looting India and she was going to shoot at least one Briton when she grew up.
When she was 15, the Second World War reached its peak. Over a couple of years, Rajamani heard a lot about Bose and the INA. She had always supported the nationalist movement, and his inspirational words encouraged her to fight for her country. Unlike Gandhi, Bose appealed to everyone to use arms to liberate India from British rule.
After Bose tried to return Saraswathi’s jewelry that she had donated to assist the INA, he and refused to accept, he gave her the name Saraswathi.
Impressed by her attitude, he agreed to recruit Saraswathi and her four friends into the INA intelligence wing. As spies behind enemy lines, their job was to intercept government orders and military intelligence from the British officers.
After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, the INA was disbanded. Saraswathi and the other INA members returned to India on Bose’s instructions. Her family sold all their possessions in Burma and returned to India to live in poverty, IndiaTimes.com reported.
Until early 2000, Saraswathi lived in a run-down house in Chennai replete with photos of Bose. She was later allotted a house.