This is a fictional account of facts surrounding life and times of Neera Arya of Azad Hind Fauj, who was instrumental in saving Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, by letting him escape from the British
The Town hall looked spectacular with the stunning decor. The 5000 garlands dangling in the wall made it look like The Garden of Eden. Nothing less than a 1000 bulbs glittered, deceiving the moonless night. A chef had been hired all the way from Lucknow specially to make the Biryani. The guests arrived one by one and included so many stalwarts from the Government. This was the wedding the city was waiting for, the wedding of Seth Chajumal’s daughter. But where wasthe groom?
Lal Bazar, Calcutta Police Headquarters, British India
A meeting was underway inside the office of Sir Fairweather, Commissioner, Calcutta Police. It was a desperate attempt to stop the mutiny. Fairweather knew that if he played his cards right it would end the revolution for good and the British could rule over India for another 100 years. He told the others in the room, “So we all should congratulate Das on his special day!”
“Thank you Sir” said Shrikant Jairanjan Das, one of the best CID officers of the British India government.
“Das,” asked Fairweather “Do you know why you are getting married, right?”
“Yes Sir, I do” replied Das “and I assure you I will not fail.”
“Good my boy, I have full faith in you, now let us go for the big day.”
It was almost eight in the evening. The father of the bride was worried. The groom was nowhere to be seen. This wedding was important for him. He knew this could be the door to a long-term relationship with the government. While everyone waited for the groom, the bride too was waiting eagerly – but not for the groom.She was waiting for a message.
8:15 : A car pulls up at the entrance. An elegantly dressed woman disembarks and approaches the bride. She hands over a tulip bouquet and a gift wrapped in the finest of paper. The bride welcomes her and gives her a hug. Just this instant, the groom arrives too. Everyone rushes to have a look at him. Capitalizing on this opportunity to be alone with bride, the lady whispers,“It is a plot as we thought. Use the gift wisely.”
It was now a month since the wedding. Jairanjan was waiting for the right moment to approach his newly wedded wife. Sir Fairweather was getting restless. He asked Jairanjan to act fast.
Returning home one day, Jairanjan kissed his wife and said, “Look what Firweather Sahib gifted you today,” and handedover a gold necklace to his wife.
“Thank him,” she said “but the real gift will be when he leaves our country along with the other Englishmen.”
“Don’t you say that.You are my wife,” Jairanjan protested “Whatever I am today is because of these Englishmen.”
“Well, you can be their pet dog, not me” reacted the newly wed girl.
“How dare you?” Jairanjan wanted to slap his wife but realized it would only worsen the matter. He controlled his anger and in his restrained gentlemanly voice said “Okay, maybe you are right, but don’t you think the terrorists should be killed?”
“Terrorists?” she reacted.
“Subhas Bose. I know you have contacts with him. If you help us by killing him, Fairweather Sahib has promised me a promotion and many more gifts for you,” Jairanjan proposed.
“I will think about it” she replied. But at the back of her mind she had other plans.
Realization and opportunity
Afew months had passed since the marriage. Jairanjan made several unsuccessful attempts to persuade his wife to kill Subhas Bose. He ultimately realized his wife would be incapable of killing a man. He decided to do the deed himself.
An intelligence report reached Jairanjan’s desk in the morning. It read ‘Bose arriving at 1700 hours at the destination.’
Reaching home he informed his wife, “I am sorry dear. I should not have dragged you into all this. I realize it would be difficult for you to kill someone. But I will do the needful today at 5 in the evening.”
“Oh! But how?” she asked.
“An intelligence report says” he replied “Bose will come at 5 in the evening today.”
“I am so happy for you. Can I join you,” she asked.“I want be a witness to your success.”
She knew it was time to use the gift she had received at her wedding.
Jairanjan, who knew nothing of her intentions, was overwhelmed with this gesture.He felt extremely lucky that his wife has finally changed. ‘Love is so powerful’ he thought.
It was 5 in the evening. A black Morris pulls over in front of a North Calcutta house. Jairanjan who was waiting at a distance fetched his Colt M1903 Hammerless from the holster. What followed was totally unexpected. His wife flung into action with her Mark 1 trench knife and stabbed Jairanjan.
The bullet which was fired missed Bose and hit the driver instead. Jairanjan who was an able shooter, missed the target due to multiple stabs on his chest. The constables who were posted in plain clothes rushed to find Jairanjan dead. They arrested his wife.
“Mrs. Das, you murdered your husband Shrikant Jairanjan Das, do you plead guilty for your crime?”
“I don’t plead anything to the British Government. I agree to have served my country,” replied the accused.
“You will be charged with contempt of court,” said the judge “answer the question which is asked”
“I charge you for contempt of my country” she replied angrily.
“You have not only murdered your husband who was an able police officer, you also don’t regret it” the judge convicted her “By the powers vested upon me by the Queen of England, I hear-by sentence you to life imprisonment. I also give full powers to the police to apply all possible means to find about Subhas Chandra Bose’s whereabouts from you.”
The Torture- Cellular Jail, Andaman and Nicobar Island
She was sent to cellular jail, her new abode for unknown times. She was kept in a tiny cell like many other political prisoners. A series of torture followed to know the whereabouts of Netaji. She remained unmoved by this Victorian hospitality. She was tied in hard iron chains around her neck, hands and legs. The cell was cold enough to give one shivers, yet, she never asked for any blankets.
It was midnight when two guards came to her cell and gave her two blankets. The next day the jailor came to her cell along with a blacksmith. She wondered what was in store. Soon the jailor asked the blacksmith to cut her chains. While doing so, he cut some of her flesh. She ignored that but when he started cutting off the shackles from her legs, he hit her bones 2–3 times with a heavy hammer.“Are you blind?” she screamed.
“I can hit your heart as well and you can do nothing about it” replied the blacksmith coldly.
The jailor who was watching this closely approached and said,“If you tell us where Subhas Bose is, we will let you go.”
“He died in a plane crash” she replied “and everybody knows this”
“You are lying” shouted the jailor “he is still alive so tell us where he is”
“He is in my heart” replied the brave prisoner.
“If Bose is in her heart, then remove him from there.” The jailer said as he ripped off all her clothes and instructed the blacksmith to cut her breasts.
26th July 2022 –The present day
I woke up to the sound of several beeps in my cell phone. They were messages, messages on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Divas. AndI remembered another era when brave hearts of a certain kind walked our earth – the earth of India – the sons and daughters of this soil for whom nothing mattered except Independence of a nation and saving their leader, Subhas Bose. I remember daughters like Neera Arya – she who sacrificed her youth and the rest of her life so that Netaji could live.
Perhaps history would have been vastly different without her contribution. Her cottage was demolished by the then Indian Government which shamelessly claimed that it had been built over government land. Homeless, penniless Neera Arya survived by selling flowers. And us? Its just taken us a mere 24 years to completely forget Neera Arya who died on 26th July 1998. Today, I write about the Nagin of Jhansi Regiment of Azad Hind Fauj with a question to all Indians, “Does she deserve this?”
Note: This is fact-based fictional account on the life of Neera Arya on the occasion of her death anniversary which was on 26th July 1998
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.