The brave ‘Veerangana’ who shot her husband to save Netaji
Saturday,23 October 2021 02:50 PM IST
In the last part, I spoke about the brave woman, who killed her husband to save Netaji, who was one of the people who fought for the Independence of India. Now read what happened to her after that….
When the British Government came to know about the incident, Neera Arya was sentenced to the ill-famed ‘kala pani’ for the murder of a British officer. She was imprisoned in the Calcutta jail, initially. During her time in jail, she was subjected to severe torture and was also told that if she gave information about Netaji, she would be released. It is said, fed up with the torture, she once spit on the prison guard. However, even after she was tortured every day she refused to give any information about Netaji.
Neera had shared details of some of her life story with an Urdu writer Farhan Taj and he wrote about her life in his novel. She had told him “after the trial, I was sent to Andaman for life-time imprisonment (Kala Pani),where all prisoners were stuffed into tiny cells. There were other women like me, who were serving their punishment. These women were also political prisoners. I was worried always, how I would participate in the Freedom Movement while I am living on an unknown island in the middle of the sea?” Even when she was imprisoned her thoughts were for her motherland.
She said “I never asked for a blanket and kept sleeping on the ground despite the bitter cold for months. One day, it was midnight and two guards came to my cell and they had thrown two blankets on me. I felt bad about it. There was however, some satisfaction of getting blankets in the cold. I was still worried that I was tied with a hard iron chain around my neck, hand, and legs. The next day, God listened to my prayers, and a blacksmith came in. He started cutting off the chains of my hand. He had cut some flesh off my hand. I ignored that pain, but when he started cutting off the shackles from my legs, he had hit my bones many times with a heavy hammer. It was so painful, I sighed, but, did not cry. I asked him ‘are you blind that you had hit my legs many times’? It is giving me a lot of pain. He arrogantly replied that ‘I can even hit on your heart as well and you cannot do anything about this”.
She continued her story, “I knew that I was a prisoner there. They can behave in any way they liked. Still, I was angry and I spat on him and said to him ‘learn to respect women’. The jailer who was watching all of this incident came close to me and told me if you tell us where Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is, we will let you go. Innocently, I replied, he died in a plane crash and everybody knows this. The jailer replied, you are lying because he is still alive. Then jailer again asked me this is the last time I am asking you, where is he? I angrily replied he is in my heart, in my mind. Jailer furiously said if Netaji is in her heart, then remove him from there’’.
The story of horror did not end there and “the jailer touched me inappropriately and tore my clothes off and indicated to the blacksmith about my removing my breasts”. They did that too to punish her for her love for Netaji and her country.
She wrote in one of his autobiography about an incident when she was in INA, “I had a girl Saraswati Rajamani with me. She was younger than me and was from Burma. She and I were given the responsibility of spying on the British officers. We adopted boys' costumes. We spied on the homes of British officers and military camps. We used to share the information we got from here with Netaji”.
“One day one of our companions, Durga was missing and was unfortunately captured by the British. After this, Saraswati and me were in disguise to rescue her. Where Durga was taken prisoner, the officers drugged her by deceit. We somehow managed to escape with Durga. Then a British soldier opened fire, due to which Rajamani was shot in the leg. We managed to climb a tree with limping Saraswati. The British soldiers launched an operation to capture us. We stayed on the tree for three days, and later we returned to the base of the Azad Hind Fauj”.
“Pleased by our bravery Netaji gave Rajamani the rank of Lieutenant in Rani Jhansi Brigade and I was made a Captain”.
She was freed after Independence. Neera Arya made a living by selling flowers. She spent the last days of her life in a hut in the Falaknuma area of Hyderabad. She died on 26 July 1998 at Osmania Hospital near Charminar. It is said that a local journalist along with his colleagues performed the last rites of Neera Arya.
Tejpal Singh Dhama, a famous writer from Khekra who was also the recipient of the Manishi Award, said “even today, Neera Arya is immortal in the history books”. He expressed his intention to make a film on the life struggle of Neera Arya. Dhama reported that Zhang Huihuang Gracie from China would make a film based on the script he wrote. The story of Veerangana Neera Arya will be revealed to the world through the film.
She was truly a ‘Veerangana’ who sacrificed everything for us, but did we treat her fairly? Please leave your valuable comments on the way how we treat her braves. Vandemataram.