She needed a gun to shoot the Britishers, of course: SARASWATHI RAJAMANI

India’s journey to Independence is built upon the courage and bravery displayed by patriots who have selflessly contributed to the freedom struggle. This tale would be incomplete without mentioning the undaunted bravery displayed by the women of the country. Such a brave daughter is Saraswathi Rajamani.

Born in 1927 in a family of freedom fighters, Saraswathi Rajamani grew up amidst no restrictions that were prevalent in other households. Her father was a fighter himself, but had settled in Burma to escape arrest by the British.

Once when Mahatma Gandhi was visiting her palatial home in Rangoon, Rajamani had disappeared. She was later found in the garden, honing her shooting skills. On being asked why she needed a gun, she simply replied “To shoot down the Britishers, of course!” Gandhiji made her understand the ways of nonviolence, but her determination could not be touched.

A staunch supporter of the nationalist movement, she was greatly influenced by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army. His powerful words kindled the fire of patriotism in her heart and was looking forward to getting involved as soon as possible.

Bose visited Rangoon for funds and recruitment to INA during World War II, where he urged everyone to take up arms to liberate India from British rule. A determined Rajamani removed all her jewellery and donated it to the Indian National Army. Bose was extremely stunned with this action and he arrived at Rajamani’s residence to return them. Rajamani was adamant and responded, “They are not my father’s, they are mine. I gave all of them to you, and I will not take them back.” Bose was in awe with her determination and her knowledge, and christened her “Saraswathi”. From that day onwards, Rajamani became Saraswathi Rajamani.

Rajamani was so eager to be a part of the freedom movement that in the very same meeting, she urged Bose to recruit her in his army. Bose gave in to her persuasion and recruited Rajamani and four of her friends as spies in INA’s intelligence wing. They started working as errand boys in disguise at British military camps and officers’ houses and were entrusted with the dicey task of intercepting British government and military intelligence and handing these over to INA.

For almost two years, by the name of Mani, Rajamani and her friends survived under the facade of being boys until one fateful day when one of the girls was caught by the British. Rajamani, masked as a dancing girl drugged the officers at the prison, and rescued her friend. As the girls were escaping, they were shot at by the Britishers and Rajamani suffered a bullet wound in her right leg that left her with a permanent limp, which she was proud of. The courage she displayed did not go unrecognized and she was awarded a medal by the Japanese emperor and the rank of Lieutenant in INA’s Rani of Jhansi Brigade.

Saraswathi Rajamani returned to India with her family sans all belongings when the British won the war and the INA had been disbanded. Devoid of any riches, Rajamani lived in poverty, alone in a dilapidated condition. Her one room apartment in Chennai was decorated with Netaji’s photographs till the Tamil Nadu government allotted her an old house in a housing colony. Old age had not deterred her patriotism to the nation. She still donates to the poor and the downtrodden section of the society.

ScripBros salutes the nation’s brave daughters like Saraswathi Rajamani, who fought with immense spirit, despite facing numerous challenges and hardships to earn us freedom from the British raj.

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