Author, Burning for Freedom

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Biography of Savarkar, Post 9: In the Cellular Jail

The Cellular Jail

        Savarkar was awarded two consecutive life sentences (December 4, 1910, and January 31, 1911) of twenty five years transportation to Andaman.

        July 4, 1911: Savarkar was incarcerated in the Cellular Jail.
Plan of the Cellular Jail

·        Cellular Jail was run by a tyrant, David Barrie. There were inhuman rules, especially for the political prisoners:

no recognition of being political prisoners; solitary confinement; restriction on use of toilet facility; no medical aid unless proof was provided (and proof was seldom considered sufficient); unpalatable food—with mice droppings, insects, and dirt and sweat from the cooks’ bodies mixed in; hard labor, including being yoked to the oil mill; no library, restriction on reading, no writing materials; a steady diet of insults and injustice; only one letter per year, and that confiscated if authorities so desired; shackles, handcuffs, cross-bar fetters, chain gang and such punishments given freely.

· Savarkar never forgot his vow to free Hindustan for a second; he made several petitions to work outside that he may escape, but was denied. Despite this he established a spy system and set up communication with his associates, held secret meetings, encouraged all the political prisoners, and gave them lessons to widen their knowledge.

· By 1913: the political prisoners had organized two strikes which led to slightly better conditions. Most of the political prisoners (never Savarkar or Babarao) were allowed to work outside on lighter jobs. In these circumstances, Savarakar organized a campaign of spreading patriotism.

· September, 1913: there was a suspicion that secret bomb-making activity was taking place on the island. Severe restrictions were imposed on them all again. The political prisoners went on another powerful strike (not a hunger strike, Savarkar was against those.)

· The Government repatriated most of the political prisoners in separate jails on mainland India or Burma for the sake of security and loosened the rules for those left behind.

· Savarkar was categorically told that he would remain within the walls of the Cellular Jail and engaged in hard labor for years to come.

-   Anurupa

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