India’s struggle for independence was a long and arduous one in which thousands died without their names ever being mentioned. Apart from the known few, the majority of freedom fighters did nameless service to the nation, and one such lesser-known name was Neera Arya, an unsung warrior of the INA (Indian National Army).
The Life of Neera Arya
Neera Arya, popularly known as the first woman spy in the Indian National Army, was a soldier in the Rani of Jhansi Regiment under the leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Born on March 5, 1902, in Khekra, a city in the Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh, Neera Arya was the daughter of the distinguished and eminent businessman Seth Chhajumal. Her upbringing was in the backdrop of British colonial rule in India, and from a young age, her actions displayed her deep love for the nation as she actively participated in various freedom movements.
However, her journey took a turn when she got married to Shrikant Jairanjan Das, an investigation officer working for the British government. This marriage soon became a point of conflict as her husband’s loyalty lay with the British, while Neera ardently desired India’s independence.
Joining the Freedom Movement
Driven by her unwavering patriotism, Neera Arya decided to join the Jhansi Regiment, a part of the Azad Hind Fauj led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Despite her marital ties, she committed herself to the cause of India’s freedom from British rule. The Jhansi Regiment played a crucial role in the struggle for independence, working relentlessly for the freedom movement.
A Difficult Choice
Her commitment to the nation put her at odds with her husband, who was ordered to spy on Netaji and assassinate him. In a poignant twist of fate, Neera Arya found herself torn between her loyalty to her husband and her unwavering commitment to the nation.
One day, when her husband attempted to assassinate Subhas Chandra Bose, she made the ultimate sacrifice by killing him to save Netaji. Her courageous act led to her imprisonment and a life sentence.
Torture and Loyalty
In prison, Neera Arya faced relentless torture and attempts to extract information about the leaders of the Indian National Congress (INC), especially Subhas Chandra Bose. She was offered bribes and threatened with release if she revealed crucial information. However, her steadfast patriotism prevailed, and she refused to betray her cause.
According to historical accounts, Neera Arya’s loyalty to the nation led to extreme torture, including the horrifying act of having her breasts chopped off because she steadfastly refused to divulge information about Subhas Chandra Bose’s whereabouts.
First Woman Spy of INA
Despite the immense physical and psychological torment she endured, Neera Arya remained loyal to the nation and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Her unwavering commitment to the cause earned her the distinction of becoming the first woman spy of the Azad Hind Fauj.
Following India’s independence, Neera Arya was released from prison. She spent the rest of her life in Hyderabad and passed away in 1998. Her incredible courage and dedication to the nation’s cause were largely unknown to the world until recently when Kannada film director Roopa Iyer decided to make a biopic on her life.
Through this biopic, Neera Arya’s name and heroic deeds will finally receive the recognition they deserve, ensuring that her legacy as an unsung warrior of the INA lives on to inspire generations to come. Neera Arya’s story serves as a reminder of the countless unsung heroes whose sacrifices played an integral role in India’s journey to freedom.