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As Indians, we all heard about ‘Kala Pani Ki Saza’ given by the British to Indian freedom fighters. But few know the real name of the prison and its dark secrets where our brave fighters were kept imprisoned- Cellular Jail located in the Port Blair, Andaman.
Cellular Jail was built during British Raj to imprison our freedom fighters away from the mainland, where they had to endure gruesome torture and horrendous treatment inflicted by the British.
Many famous independence activists like Veer Savarkar, Batukeshwar Dutt, Sachin Sanyal, Fazl e Haq, Yogendra Shukla, Sohan Singh, and others were imprisoned and went through painful torture.
After Independence, it became a National Monument to preserve and respect the sacrifices of our freedom fighters, who gave us a free nation, where we live and breathe freely.
Here we’ll reveal the dark secrets of cellular jail or Kala Pani in Port Blair, Andaman.
Dark Secrets of Cellular Jail (Kala Pani) in Port Blair, Andamans
1. Cellular Jail in Port Blair is also known as ‘Kala Pani Ki Saza’ because once the prisoner enter this exile island, they never returned to their home, either they died by soul-breaking torture or commit suicide. Only a few dare to survive this torture.
2. British initially settled in Ross Island located in Andaman, they imprisoned Indian freedom fighters there, and after the 1857 revolt, they captured more fighters. When Ross Island jail was accommodated fully, they need to build another prison, a cellular jail.
3.Cellular Jail was built between 1896 and 1906. One of the dark secrets is that freedom fighters were used as a ‘chain gang’ meaning they were chained together to build the prison building. Many died due to hard labor.
4.Many Famous Independence activists like Veer Savarkar and his brother Ganesh Savarkar, Batukeshwar Dutt, Hare Krishna Konar, Sohan Singh, Yogendra Shukla, Fazl e Haq and Mahavir Singh, an associate of Bhagat Singh and others were imprisoned here.
5.The building design resembled a wheel structure, where the central tower looks like a wheel axis and its seven buildings look like its spokes. The central tower was designed in such a way, that the authorities keep an eye on all seven wings.
6.A total of 693 cells were there and each cell held only one prisoner. The cell area was very small and had only small ventilation.
Cells were designed in a way that inmates were unable to communicate with each other and cells faced the back walls of the other building.
7.Another dark secret of this premise is that mess is just opposite a room where prisoners were hanged to death. So the prisoners who were eating a meager meal in a mess could hear the painful scream of their fellow inmates, which psychologically affected them.
8.They were given hard labor like working in coconut and mustard oils, Husking and opening coconut, cane and bamboo work, Gardening, rope making, and others. The labor was very hard that if they were unable to complete it on time, they had to bear a severe punishment from the jailor.
9.Another dark secret of cellular jail was that inmates had to control their urine and motion for a long time during the night, because of the restrictions to go outside the cell at night. They were given a small earthen pot to let out. If they asked for it, they were punished severely by the warden.
Veer Savarkar Life in Cellular Jail
Veer Savarkar wrote an autobiography ‘The Story of My Transportation for Life’, where he recounted his stay in Cellular jail, Port Blair. He stayed there from 1911 to 1923.
Veer Savarkar never broke down from the torture of cellular jail, instead he strengthen his spirit and transform himself into a man committed to his cause to free his nation.
Cellular Jail in Media
Home Minister Amit Shah Visited the cellular jail in Port Blair on 15 October 2021 on the occasion of ‘# Azadi Ka Mahotsav’. He paid tribute to freedom fighters.
He said that Veer Savarkar converted that prison into ‘teerthsthan’ pilgrimage.
There is also a film made in the Malayam language name ‘Kala Pani’ which depicts the lives of Indian activists in cellular jail. It starred Mohanlal, Tabu, Amrish Puri.