1. The Cellular Jail in Port Blair in Andaman must rank as the darkest deed perpetrated by the British Raj, along with the massacre at Jalian Wala Bagh in Punjab. The islands of Andaman & Nicobar, located in the Bay of Bengal and separated from the Indian mainland by thousands of kilometres of sea all around, was used by the British as penal settlement to which they banished thousands of freedom fighters as well as petty criminals. The first lot of 200 sepoys (privates) who participated in Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 arrived on the 10th of March, 1858, at Andaman and many were to follow. Under Superintendent J. B. Walker, the prisoners were forced to construct roads, buildings and everything else that was needed to convert marshy islands, infested with snakes leeches and scorpions and covered with deep primeval forests, into a settlement where the prisoners and their British minders can stay. However, the conception and construction of Cellular Jail started much later - in the year 1896. By the time construction was completed in 1906, it had costed the British exchequer more than five hundred thousand Indian Rupees. It also costed the lives of a few hundred of the prisoners who were used by their captors to build the new prison wherein they could be incarcerated. The jail consisted of seven wings all emanating from a central watch tower. Each wing had three floors and there were in total 698 cells (hence the name cellular) each measuring 13.5 ft X 7.5 ft. Of the original seven wings, only three remain today.
Aerial Shot of Cellular Jail. Courtesy www.andamancellularjail.org Each cell had a small (3 feet X 1 foot) ventilation opening located at height of 9 feet from the wall. A verandah about 4 ft ran all along the front of the row of cells from one end to the other end of the wing. Each cell grill was well secured with sturdy iron bolt and lock which ran through a rectangular channel on the outside of the cell wall a few feet away from the entrance door. This way...
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