On the eve of 70th Independence day, we had the fortune of celebrating the day at Cellular Jail, Andaman. The jail is known for housing freedom fighters of Indian freedom movement. Once exiled to this jail it was impossible for anyone to escape from the island. It was also infamous for torture and atrocities did for prisoners. Swatantra Veer Savarkar spent over 10 years in this jail.
The building was strategically built to ensure no communication between prisoners. The structure is in the form of cartwheel in which each spoke contained three floors and multiple cells to place one prisoner in a cell. Cells of each spoke would face the back of the other cells of opposite spoke. The cells were of 13.5 ft X 7.5ft with a ventilator at 9th feet so that the inmates cannot communicate with their counterparts on the other part through the window.
Prisoners day out:
The prisoners were locked from dusk to dawn for over 12 hours. During these hours should a prisoner had to relieve himself, they were given a pot which was to be cleaned only in the morning. During the daytime the prisoners were allotted works like working in oil mill, husking copra, making ropes, cane works, and other activities.
The food given to the prisoners was rationed to ensure that they can work but not sufficient to fill the stomach. They were also given Ganji / Kanji. One pinch of salt per day was allotted, so most of the times, the food was tasteless due to inadequate salt.
Punishment and tortures:
The prisoners were given high daily activities. Any person failing to reach the target was cladded on an iron frame and whipped. Usually, this was done by the officials. The officials also used to identify prisoners who had less intelligence but physically strong. These selected prisoners were fed well to ensure strength. The duty of these people was to torture the fellow prisoners as suggested by the officials.
Veer Savarkar Cell:
Usually, freedom activists who were considered to be dangerous were transported to cellular jail. The British officials felt Savarkar was most dangerous considering his history of an escape attempt. Hence his cell had extra cover. Unlike other cells, Savarkar cell had an additional door. To bring him mentally down, His cell had a view of gallows. Savarkar spent over 10 years here. The lives were so disconnected here, by the time Veer Savarkar was brought to this jail, his brother, Ganesh Savarkar was already there in Cellular jail. But it took over a year for both of them to meet.
Of all the hardships of prison-life in the Silver Jail of the Andamans- gruelling work, scanty food and clothing, occasional thrashing and others-none was so annoying and disgusting as its provision for urinals and lavatories – Veer Savarkar
LET US LIVE FOR THE NATION
As Narendra Modi rightly said, we did not have the opportunity to die for the nation, we have the opportunity to live for the nation. Let us understand the sacrifice of many patriots who dedicated their lives for freedom. They gave up their life. Let us remember them. Let us pay tribute to them.