Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday started a series of social media posts on freedom fighters who were incarcerated in the infamous Cellular Jail, saying their diaries will shed light on their individual strengths and unwavering love for the motherland. The jail, also known as 'Kaala Paani', in Andaman and Nicobar Islands was used by the British for exiling political prisoners. In a first such post, Naidu wrote on Vinayak Savarkar, popularly known as Veer Savarkar.
"The saga of India's freedom struggle is replete with the heroic tales of many great and ordinary men and women and the selfless sacrifices made by them to liberate the country from an oppressive colonial rule," Naidu wrote on Facebook. As the country approaches the landmark event of 75 years of independence, people not only need to retell their inspirational stories of martyrdom, valour and indomitable spirit, but "we also need to give them their due place in the annals of our history", he said.
Recently, the vice president had penned a number of posts recounting the heroic stories of lesser known women freedom fighters. "I believe that the people of the country, particularly the youngsters, should be fully aware of the invaluable role played by them in the attainment of India's independence," he said.
Naidu recalled that during his visits to the Cellular Jail, he was always anguished and moved by the stories of extreme torture and abuse faced by the freedom fighters. "Also known as 'Kaala Paani' (black water), it was one of the most dreaded prisons of the colonial times. The Britishers built the jail in the middle of the sea to isolate political prisoners. The horrific treatment meted out to freedom fighters by the British authorities made people to be mortally afraid of 'Kaala Paani Ki Sazaa'," the vice president recalled. Many great freedom fighters, intellectuals and revolutionaries were sent on exile to the Cellular Jail and tortured in the name of confinement, he said. Freedom fighters including Batukeshwar Dutt, Diwan Singh Kalepani, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, and the Savarkar brothers — Ganesh and Vinayak — were among the many freedom fighters who were incarcerated in the Cellular Jail in an attempt to break their spirits and to demoralise them from participating in the freedom struggle, Naidu wrote.
"I call upon the younger generation of India to visit the Cellular Jail. As we pay homage to them, let us all strive together to build the India that our freedom fighters dreamt of," he said. Vinayak Savarkar began his political activities from a very young age. During his stay in England, he got involved in revolutionary activities organised at Shyamji Krishna Varma's India House and the Free India Society. He published books advocating for Indian Independence by revolutionary means. One of his books on the 1857 rebellion, 'The Indian War of Independence' was banned by British authorities. In 1910, Savarkar was arrested and extradited to India for his involvement with the revolutionary group at India House. Savarkar was awarded double life imprisonment of 50 years and was sent to the Cellular Jail and tortured in a most inhuman way, Naidu wrote. "He was shackled, flogged, put on standing handcuffs for days and put in solitary confinement for six months. He was tied to a mill and made to extract oil. That was not all. He was deprived of the basic necessity of toilet," Naidu recalled.
"The inhuman conditions and torture made Savarkar fight for the basic rights of the prisoners. In the year 1913, after several attempts at drawing the attention of authorities towards the barbarous treatment of the prisoners, the inmates went on a hunger strike…," Naidu said. The horrific years spent in jail enduring the worst forms of torture reflected the mental resilience of Savarkar, who did not let brutality and hardship defeat him, the vice president said.