Tuesday, September 16, 2008




On July 24, 1937, 187 political prisoners of the Cellular Jail undertook 4th and the last hunger strike while 72 went on work strike. Their foremost demand was the unconditional release of all detainees, State prisoners and convicted political prisoners. A good deal of sympathy had been aroused in Bengal in support of the hunger strikers, and a number of demonstrations took place in Calcutta and other places.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose threatened to instigate “campaign” on behalf of the hunger strikers throughout Bengal if steps were not taken to repatriate them. Later, Mahatma Gandhi intervened and an agreement between him and Viceroy Lord Linlithgow paved the way for the release of those political convicts and the hunger strike was abandoned on August 30th. The political prisoners of the Penal Settlement at Andaman Islands were ultimately transferred in phases to mainland prisons. The last batch of 109 freedom fighters (political prisoners) left Port Blair on 18th January 1938.

Though, almost all the political prisoners returned to mainland and the responsibility of creating a society mainly fell on the shoulders of the convicts’ families of the Penal Settlement who had inherited the noble spirit of resistance of their convict forefathers. Indeed, there would have been several other factors responsible for creating a society considerably different from the one in the mainland yet the role of the spirit of resistance displayed during the British colonial regime may not be undermined.

1 comment: