Vice President calls for organizing student visits to Cellular Jail and other historic places linked to the freedom struggle

New Delhi: The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today urged the HRD Ministry and all State Governments to organize visits of students to the Cellular Jail in Port Blair and other historical places associated with the freedom struggle.

The Vice President visited the Cellular Jail, including the solitary confinement cell occupied by Veer Savarkar, and paid his tributes at the martyrs’ column, to the valiant freedom fighters, who were subjected to inhuman treatment during their incarceration at the time of freedom struggle.

Shri Naidu was accompanied by his spouse, Smt Ushamma, his son, son-in-law, daughter, and grand-children.

In a Facebook Post, the Vice President described his visit to the solitary confinement cell of Veer Savarkar as a “humbling experience”. He said that Veer Savarkar’s life is a great inspiration to youngsters.

He said that it (the Jail) was a stark reminder of the cruel and sadistic treatment meted to freedom fighters, who refused to abandon their love for the motherland. Fired by their patriotic passion and an iron resolve to free the country from an alien rule, the brave freedom fighters never gave up, he added.

Shri Naidu said that the Cellular jail was a reminder of how hard-won and precious our freedom is.

Stating that the Jail was now a place of pilgrimage for all those who love the country and value freedom, the Vice President described it as a symbol of resistance to the ills of colonialism.

While reminding the younger generation of the countless stories of sacrifices made by our courageous freedom fighters, he expressed confidence that a visit to the Cellular Jail would inspire them to strive for the greater glory of the country and to always protect the unity and integrity of this great nation.

Completed in the year 1906, Cellular Jail, also known as ‘kala pani’ or the ‘black waters’, derived its name from the small, individual cells that housed prisoners. Of the three-pronged tactic of hunger, torture and isolation, it was the isolation from fellow beings that acted as the harshest of punishments to inmates.

Shri Naidu said the purpose of solitary confinement was to demoralize freedom fighters. The jail, surrounded by hundreds of miles of ocean on all sides, provided little scope or hope for inmates to escape.

Apart from Veer Savarkar, many distinguished people were imprisoned in the Cellular Jail. They included Diwan Singh Kalepani, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, Yogendra Shukla, Batukeshwar Dutt, Maulana Ahmadullah, Movli Abdul Rahim Sadiqpuri, Ali Ahmed Siddiqui, Maulvi Liaquat Ali, Babarao Savarkar, Sachindra Nath Sanyal.

Veer Savarkar was sent to the Cellular Jail with a sentence of two life imprisonments. His life in solitary confinement was one of torture and suffering. He was yoked to the oil mill—the harshest manner of labor.

Savarkar was a source of inspiration for other prisoners. His brother was also in the same jail but both of them were unaware of each other’s presence.

The other imprisoned revolutionaries, on who cases were foisted by the British in connection with Alipore Bomb case, Nasik Conspiracy, Lahore Conspiracy Case and Chittagong Armory Raid Case, were given life sentences and had faced a lot of brutality and hardship.

Instead of calling them as conspiracy cases as referred by the British, we should describe them as ‘freedom struggle cases’, the Vice President said.

The Cellular Jail also houses the Eternal Flame and Martyrs’ Column as a tribute. Originally the jail was a massive three-storeyed structure with seven wings radiating from central fulcrum on which stood a watch tower. The jail could accommodate 690 inmates.

The jail holds many horrific stories of the suffering of the heroes of our struggle for independence, who were unjustly incarcerated in this jail. But this pre-Independence penal institution is also a symbol of the brave resistance put up by our freedom fighters against the tyranny, oppression and injustice of the foreign rule, the Vice President added in the FB post.