|Andaman and Nicobar Islands,www.funtripsindia.com|
|Hilltop Gallows on Viper Island.en. wikipedia. org|
During the long British occupation in the Indian continent from 1600s till August, 1947, the British East India company and later the British Crown committed worst crimes, many of which were wantonly ignored by the historians. Among the most disgusting innumerable historical events such as - 1. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre (13 April 1919, Punjab) that resulted in the death of more than a 1000 innocent people under the direction of Brig. Gen. Reginald Dyer,
|The Ross Island Prison HQ,.1872.en.wikipedia. org|
|British brutality.celluar Jail, Andaman.Bull's whip.exploresome.com|
on the purported Indian rebels (in the wake of the worst rebellion in British history - Sepoy Mutiny of 1857) who were imprisoned on the Ross Island Penal colony. The prison camp functioned from 1858 till it was disbanded on 7 October 1945 during which time in the damp, filthy crowded environment Indians faced death, isolation and emancipation. During the same period, 24 Chief Commissioners presided over the British brutality on the poor Indians who wanted to be free from their treacherous rule.
The following are the facts:
01. It was the brain child of Archibald Blair who found the remoteness of the island most suitable for building a penal colony. The project could not proceed father beyond 1796 due to out break of Malaria.
02. In the wake of 1857 Sepoy mutiny, the penal colony project got priority to imprison a large number of rebels.
03. Ross Inland was an deal place to separate the hard core rebels from the main land. The first batch had 200 prisoners - mostly many prominent leaders of the Wahabi movement (an Islamic "reform movement") under one Dr. James Pattison Walker, Jail Superintendent from Calcutta.
04. Upon the arrival of additional prisoners Dr. Walker assigned them the tough job of clearing the dense forest of Ross Island, building their own shelters and other buildings and laying of roads.
05. The British masters behaved like Gestapos. They took so much pleasure in chaining the prisoners and collaring round the neck with identity tags as if they were wild dogs, irrespective of their health conditions.
06. The British Bobs tested the Indian rebels their level of tolerance and forbearance in the height of barbarity. With no basic amenities whatsoever about 1000 Indian prisoners were forced to live in barracks type huts with walls made of mat and thatched roof with lots of holes. In the monsoon rainy season, each hut was a small pond in which they were supposed to take complete rest for the following day's arduous tasks.
07. At one stage there were 8000 prisoners, out of which 3,500 had died due to sickness caused by poor treatment - the combined effects of exhaustion, disease, starvation, no food, clothing and shelter and systemic physical brutality.
08. Sir Robert Napier, upon his visit to the Penal Colony - Port Blair, found the conditions of the prisoners quite appalling and felt "beyond comprehension.''
09. British gulag", Colonel R. C. Tytler and his wife Harriet ( April 1862 to February 1864) improved the conditions there. However, the death rate was way high - 700 per year and 45 prisoners out of the 10,000 were considered medically fit.
10. In the 1870s, many Indians died from malaria, pneumonia and dysentery during heavy rainy seasons because of poor boarding lodging, and sanitary conditions, besides lack of medical care.
11. During the prevalence of malaria and other deadly diseases in 1870s, the British medical experts conducted various experiments with drugs like quinine (cinchona alkaloid) using Indians as guinea pigs. About 10,000 people were forced to consume this drug. This resulted in nausea, diarrhea, depression and aggressive behavior. When violence broke out, the military would arrest the rebels and hang them to death, using petty excuses.
12. In 1891 the freed convicts numbering more than 12,000 were forced to do agricultural works in return for a paltry sum of $25.00 a month in other colonial colonies. The working condition was so bad any attempted escape would mean death.
13. In 1858, when 81 escapees, out of 288 prisoners sought freedom and fresh air, had to abandon their attempt as they were badly attacked by the local aborigines of Andaman (many of them happened to be cannibals). Upon their return to prison camp for medical help and solace, the merciless British Bobs pounced on them like Tasmanian Devils headed by J. P. Walker, who had all of them hanged to death the same day itself!!
14. Walker, the man with stone heart, was not reprimanded for this heinous crime. In the same year he put the iron collar on the convicts to prevent escape from the prison. He also suggested ''branding''(as if they were cattle) the convicts on their forearms with details of crimes committed by them.
15. When the frustration ran high among the Indian prisoners, it ended up in the the assassination of Lord Mayo, the Viceroy of India on the evening of 8 February, 1872. Sher Ali, was the assassin. Lord Mayo was on an inspection trip to the island.
The Bengalies constitute the major population group that came to the Andaman after Independence in August, 1947. They came as 'settlers' from Bangladesh (East Pakistan) under the Government rehabilitation scheme, which started as early as 1949 and continued till 1970s.
At least 5,930 people were believed to have been killed on the Nicobar and Andaman Islands during the 2004 December 26 tsunami disaster.
The Ross Island penal colony is the sad reminder of thousands of high spirited freedom fighters who went through all kinds of pain and sufferings so that, at least, the future Indian generation would be free from the British yoke and their unjust, oppressive rule.