Sunday, May 26, 2024

Saza-E-Kalapani – Echoes of a Glorious Past

By Sumedha Tiwari (Grade 8)


This is a place where time has stopped, where the air is still drenched with melancholy from past events, where the earth is still moist with the sweat of our heroes, and where the water is still hostile with rage. This place is considered one of the darkest chapters in the history of India. The Cellular Jail, also known as ‘The Punishment of Kala Pani’, was truly an unescapable prison.

Having built the prison between 1896 and 1906 on the then hostile islands of Andaman and Nicobar, the British had great plans for it. For the jail was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by the Bay of Bengal on all sides, and the British were determined that prisoners brought to it would be a discouragement to all those who dared to stand against the British Raj.

However, as it turned out, it was quite the contrary. In the later phases of the national movement, a new surge of patriotic and nationalist feelings arose among the masses under the leadership of Gandhiji, Subash Chandra Bose, Rani Laxmi Bai, and countless others. The sacrifices made by Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, and Ram Prasad Bismil, among thousands, proved to be a motivation for all Indians. The tables turned immediately on the British as prison converted from a place dreaded to a place of worship. Freedom fighters taken hostage by the Kala Pani were more than proud to have served their purpose towards the freedom of their motherland.

Patriots were ready for all sorts of hardships in the Kala Pani jail, including being bound by iron chains around their limbs and waists and tied to seven fellow prisoners left to labour. This was done so to torture the other men; if by chance one of them fainted, then the weight of the unconscious man would weigh down the chains of the others, making them bleed through cut wrists and ankles.

Upon entering one of the cells in the cellular jail, I was immediately struck by its size, which was hardly enough for a man to stretch in. The cell was built in such a way that the lock could not be reached from within it. The guards during British rule used to lock the prisoners and then throw the key inside the cell, leaving the prisoners so close to their freedom yet so far away. The cell was entirely closed except for one little window for ventilation and light about three metres from the ground. Once inside, I could not see anything but the red bricks of the enclosure around me. All 696 cells of the jail were designed in a way that no prisoner could communicate with the other; this was this was one of the many brutalities our forefathers had to endure but did so nevertheless.

I felt proud to walk through the same corridors as the great souls who were held there as prisoners for guarding their birth land. The Cellular Jail is not only a reminder of the cruel tyranny of the British Raj but also the echoes of the heroes, the martyrs who suffered and died there while trying to liberate our country. Those heroes in the cellular jail received the honour of serving their motherland and dying fighting for it. An eternal flame burns here in the memory of the great humans who gave us free air to breathe in. We salute them all, for none of their efforts, even the smallest ones, went unrewarded.


Featured Image Courtesy – Pinterest



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5 COMMENTS

  1. I visited the Cellular Jail a few years back(before covid), and I must say, you’re description is incredibly precise.

  2. I must say this topic is very scarcely discussed about. It was good to learn so much about the punishment of Kala Pani. Well scripted and well written. Bravo!

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