The passion to serve the nation selflessly without even thinking about their own life is what drives a real patriot to go to any extends to safeguard the nation. From freedom fighters, soldiers, and spies, etc. there are innumerable heroes who made extreme sacrifices for India.
Most governments, organizations, monarchies, and agencies have relied on their spies for gathering information about the enemy’s next step for centuries and beyond and will always continue to do so. For any mission to succeed, the intelligence network plays a very critical and strong role. Spies are those important members of the intelligence network that not just provide useful information but can also help in misleading the enemy.
So let us read about some of the unsung spies who fought not just with arms but also with their wits to safeguard the nation.
Black Tiger aka Ravindra Kaushik
He was a passionate young B.Com student from Ganganagar, Rajasthan who aspired to be a great man one day. He was an extremely handsome and brilliant actor. In 1973, he was first spotted by a member of RAW (research and analysis wing) during his mono-act in Lucknow. He played the role of a patriot in that play so realistically that the audience had tears in their eyes watching his performance. Impressed by his performance the RAW agent contacted him personally and asked if he would like to do something for the country in real.
Ravindra passionately agreed to this offer and went to Delhi to meet senior officers of RAW for his recruitment as a spy upon completing his graduation. The job was to work as a secret agent of RAW for which he was offered a good amount of money. This was a secret job and wasn’t allowed to share it with anyone. He underwent training for about two months where he learned everything about spying, using weapons, and Islam. For the initial one year, he went to 7 to 8 countries for small missions on a trail work basis. Pleased by his work he was then sent to Pakistan with a new identity of Nabi Ahmed Shakir who was a Pakistani Law Student. After completing the law, he got recruited into the Pakistani Army. In 1980, he started working as a Pakistani Army Officer and continued spying for RAW. He was able to send important information about the atomic power stations in Pakistan, defense, and other security information as well. For his tremendous work, the then Prime Minister even entitled him with the name of BLACK TIGER. In 1981, he came back to India for the last time at his brother’s wedding.
It was until 1983, that he remained undercover. Another RAW agent, Inayat Masiha was supposed to meet him but unfortunately was caught before and exposed Ravindra’s real identity during interrogation. Ravindra was interrogated and tortured brutally for about two years or so until 1985 when he was sentenced to death. He then wrote a letter to his father stating his involvement with RAW and his arrest. His father died of shock upon reading the letter but his sister found the letter. The Kaushik family had no documents of Ravindra but just that one inland letter which they took to the government officials pleading for help for years. Later in 1990, his death sentence was converted into life imprisonment. In jail, his health conditions were deteriorating and he secretly continued to write letters to his family stating his miserable conditions and pleading for help from the Indian government. Unfortunately, spending over 18 years of his life imprisoned he died of tuberculosis in 2001.
Youngest Spy – Saraswati Rajamani
Rajamani was born in a rich Indian family in Rangoon who was a keen supporter of the Independence movement in India. The conditions in Rangoon were very different from India. Burma was a part of India called Greater India and most people identified with their Indian roots. The patriot in her was awakened when she was 10 years old and heard about Bhagat Singh’s death. Later in her teenage, she was highly influenced by Neta Ji Subhash Chandra Bose and wanted to be a part of his army.
Japanese had shaken hands with Netaji to fight Britishers and help India gain Independence during World War II. The Azad Hind Army formed by Netaji had 40,000 soldiers Indian soldiers out of which 30,000 were Indian war prisoners of Japan (Indians who were a part of the British Army) and 80,000 Japanese soldiers. These prisoners of war were also influenced by Bose’s charm and were ready to fight for Independence through active resilience.
In when Rajamani was 16 years old, Netaji visited Rangoon and gave his most famous and powerful speech quoting “Give me blood and I will give you freedom!” His speech made such a huge impact on her that she readily gave all her valuable jewelry as a donation to the Indian National Army Camp. The officer taking account of the donations was surprised by her donation and asked her name. Later Netaji himself visited Rajamani’s house to give back her jewelry but she was stubborn and affirmative on not taking them back. She then asked Netaji for joining INA but he exclaimed that she was too young to join the army but she was so persuasive that Netaji had to agree. She spoke with such persuasion and affirmation that impressed Netaji and he then gave her the name Saraswati saying that she speaks as if Sarawati (the goddess of knowledge) is bestowed upon her.
Initially, she worked as a nurse and her parents were supportive of her joining the INA. One day she noticed that one of the INA soldiers was talking to British personnel and even received the money in exchange for the information. She quickly left the medical camp and reached the training camp which was 7 miles away and told Netaji about everything she saw. Netaji believed her without a doubt and took action. After this, he realized that her potential was greater than being a nurse and asked Saraswati to join the training camp. She started training with enthusiasm where they were taught how to use different weapons.
INA was the first army to recruit women in the world. In the era where women were confined to only household chores, Netaji recruited them in the army and trained them in uniforms like men. After the training was completed, most girls joined the Rani Lakshmi Bai Regiment. Saraswati and her friend Durga were disguised as teenage boys and were sent to spy in Maymo British Camp as helpers. She has been waiting for this moment all her life to something for her Country. Initially, they were scared and would be extremely cautious while spying, gradually they started doing risky jobs became more confident. They used to pass on important information to an INA member who would then inform Netaji. They even stole weapons from the British camp for INA.
Maymo was about 225 km from Rangoon and they were told if one of you is caught ever the other must return to Rangoon immediately. Unfortunately one day Durga was caught spying and was sent to a local jail. Saraswati got scared but wasn’t ready to flee leaving her partner alone so she disguised as a Burma woman and went to jail as cleaning staff. There in the absence of the jailor, she quickly unlocked Durga and they both started escaping. However, were immediately spotted by the British soldiers and they started following them. During the run, Saraswati was hit by a bullet in her leg but she didn’t give up and continued to run as fast as she could with a bleeding leg. They somehow disappeared into the forest by climbing on a tree. They were so scared that they stayed on the tree for three days and then came down on the fourth day and Saraswati was still hurt. They continued moving forward with all the courage they had and managed to get a lift to Rangoon. After 8 hours of journey, they finally reached the Rangoon Camp.
Three days later Saraswati received a letter from Netaji praising her valor and that she is the youngest 16-year-old spy. After India’s independence, her family moved to India after giving away all their wealth. None of the INA members was allowed to join the armed forces of India and was denied any freedom fighters pension. In 2005, her name came to light and that she was financially struggling to make ends meet. Upon which then CM of Tamil Nadu gave her 500,000 and a free house. She would often think about her childhood days and the pain she endured for the country that will not even remember her. In Jan 2018, she passed away from cardiac arrest.
These are just two of the many whose names are forgotten, so let us pray and remember all those who have fought for this nation. Let us light a candle today in their memory saluting their spirit and sacrifices.