I say spy and you think of James Bond. Maybe you pictured a RAW agent working undercover, sipping on cocktails and seducing the ladies. But here’s the story of a 16-year-old spy who served among the ranks of the Indian National Army, during India’s freedom struggle. A lady whose name has been misplaced in the pages of history, and forgotten.

This is the story of Ms Saraswathi Rajamani, the INA’s youngest spy. And, a total badass.

At 10 years old, Ms Rajamani had already let the Mahatma know she didn’t really care about non-violent struggles.

Over 80 years ago, when Mahatma Gandhi was visiting Indians in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar), he met with Ms Rajamani’s family at their mansion. At a time when all the family were bursting with excitement to meet the legend, Ms Rajamani was honing her shooting skills in the backyard. Damn right! When the Mahatma himself asked Ms Rajamani why a little girl would want to play with guns, she replied with a crisp, “To shoot down the Britishers, of course.” As reported by The Hindu.


But it was at the age of 16 that Ms Rajamani’s fervour for a fight for independence grew.

Enchanted by the powerful words of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose during his visit to Rangoon to recruit and raise funds for the Indian National Army, Ms Rajamani donated all of her jewellery and belongings to the cause. Her father, a freedom fighter himself, made massive donations to Netaji’s cause.


Soon enough, Netaji recruited Ms Rajamani and four of her friends as spies to the INA’s intelligence wing.

Disguised as teenage boys, the girls started working as errand boys at British officers’ houses, responsible of intercepting valuable military intelligence from the British agents and handing it over to the INA, from behind enemy lines.


The undercover operations lasted nearly two years, during which Ms Rajamani also suffered a gun wound.

Transferring valuable intel on the British agents to the INA, the girls spent nearly two years undercover till one of them was caught by an officer. Ms Rajamani, the ultimate badass that she is, disguised herself as a dancer girl, drugged the officer and broke her comrade out. The exchange was swift, but Ms Rajamani got shot in her right leg in the process. Today, a limp serves as a reminder of her struggle.


Till about a decade ago, the veteran soldier lived in a dilapidated, one-room apartment. And was completely ignored by the government.

Forgotten and lost somewhere in the obscure pages of history, Ms Rajamani lived a life of isolation and without credit, in a small apartment in Chennai. The Second World War ended in 1945, India achieved independence two years later and the INA was disbanded. Her life, ever since, has been quiet and free of attention from the media or the government. She lived a life of penury and solitude. 


In 2005, Ms Jayalalithaa offered the veteran financial aid and a house.

Dressed in the INA uniform, Ms Rajamani accepted a cheque for ₹5 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund and the order of allotment of a housing board flat to her. Epic win. “I am immensely pleased as the Chief Minister has quickly responded to my appeal for assistance. I wish her a long life so that she will continue to extend a helping hand to the poor and the needy,” she is reported to have said, by The Hindu.


Having served with the INA, along with her friends, and providing vital information to the force’s intelligence wing at the risk of losing her life for over four years, Ms Rajamani and her troupe are perhaps one of the most badass young spy units from back in the day, that no one remembers. 

So what were you upto in your teenage years?