Freedom Fighter's in Cellular Jail
Some of the better known political prisoners incarcerated in the Cellular Jail were Barindra Kumar Ghosh, Upendra Nath Banerjee, Hem Chandra Das, Ullaskar Dutta, Indubushan Roy, Bibhuti Bushan Sarkar, Hrishikesh Kanjilal, Sudhin Kumar Sarkar, Abinash Chandra Bhattacharji & Birendra Chandra Sen. All these prisoners were sent to the Cellular Jail after 1910 on their conviction for participation in the Manictollah Conspiracy case. Vir Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was sent to Andamans on 4th July 1911 with sentence of two transportations for life. When he came to the Cellular Jail his elder brother, Ganesh Savarkar was already there. But the Savarkar brothers came to know about this fact only after having been in Jail over a year.
Savarkar in Cellular Jail
Savarkar in his celebrated book 'The story of my transportation for life' refers to a certain utterances of Barrie the Jailor to the prisoners "Listen, you prisoners, in the universe there is one God, and he lives in the heavan above but in Port Blair there are two one, the God of Heavan and another, the God of Each! Indeed the God of earth in Port Blair that is myself. The God of Heavan will reward you when you go above. But this God of Port Blair will reward you here and now. So you, prisoners behave well. You may complain to any superior against me but my work shall prevail; hold my own, Mind you well."
Savarkar while describing the Jail conditions says " who can describe the suffering the agonies of mind & body ? I may give you an instance, however, to point the moral of all the hardship of prison life in the Cellular Jail of the Andamans grueling work , scanty food and clothing, occasional thrashing and other none was so annoying and disgusting as its provision for urinals and lavatories. The prisoners had to control the demands of nature, for hours together, for want of these arrangements in the cell itself. Morning . noon and evening these were the only hours when prisoners were let off this convenience at any other moment than the stipulated hours. The prisoners were locked in their cell at four or five o'clock in the evening and the lock was opened only after six in the next morning. A sort of clay-pot was given to them to use for urination during the night.
Barindra Kumar Ghosh, younger brother of Maharshi Arabinda Ghosh, while describing about the inadequate and insufficient quantity of food says that "the next morning we came out and washed our face and then had for the first the darshan of ganji,otherwise called 'kanji'. It means boiled rice churned in water one may say, a sort of rice porridge. We were given each a 'dabbu' full of this dainty. Dabbu is a kind of primitive spoon, made of a broken half coconut shell with a canehandle fixed to it. The Ganji was saltless and. Therefore, tasteless. Each prisoner was allowed only one pinch of salt per day and,this was requied for the dal and the vegetable, the Ganji had necessarily to go without salt. However, we had to swallow the thing with utmost preservance, in spite of its tastelessness. The same thing was called Lapsi in the Alipur Jail but there it had some taste, as it was prepared sometime with molasses and sometime with dal'.
Other famous freedom fighters who were incarcerated in the Jail were Vaman Joshi, Shambunath Azad, Jay Dev Kapoor, Bathukeshwar Dutta, Sachindra Nath Sanyal, Pandit Paramanand, Lok Nath Bal, Ganesh Chandra Ghosh and Trailokya Nath Charaborthy Trailoky Maharaj.
The Cellular Jail Was often considered by the freedom fighters all over the country as a place of pilgrimage. It was here the British Government used to send 'Dangerous prisoners'. Against the tyranny of the Jail management, several times in the history of Jail, political prisoners had to resort to hunger strike, after having failed all other methods of ventilating their grievances. The food otherwise supplied was not only inadequate but was unfit for human consumption. Neither any writing nor reading materials were provided to the prisoners. The prisoners were not allowed to communicate with their friends and relatives on the mainland except once in a year so. Even the letters coming form mainland and newspapers subscribed by the prisoners were often censored before being given to them. While fighting against this tyranny Political prisoners like Bhai Mahavir and others had to lay down their lives. Many prisoners had gone insane in the Jail and some had to find solace in putting an end to their lives by committing suicide rather than subjecting themselves to the indignities heaped on them.