There is nothing more humbling than standing in a scary corridor with tiny rooms devoid of light and sanitation; and thank people who suffered in them for the blessing of freedom you have today. If you have been to the Cellular Jail in Port Blair you know what I mean.
|A dummy showing how people were punished. They would be tied, lashed and left to suffer in pain before the punishment would begin anew.|
Equally chilling are the gallows especially for someone like me who stays clear of all things gore and sad, death and execution are exactly that -sad. But that is not what you see first, as you enter with your a ticket in your hand, unaware at the sheer scale of inhumanity you are about to witness they ask you to first walk through two rooms flanking the entry corridor. These contain historical accounts, photographs of those who used to be, and first person accounts of those who managed to get heard.
|Back breaking work, the output of which decided how their fate would go that day. Less than expected and you would go hungry.|
All it takes is half an hour and the pleasant sea breeze affects you not as you walk to the first corridor of doom. these rooms were designed for isolation, they were designed for torture and nobody was supposed to ever get out of these.
The men barely clad and sparingly fed were just hands, splitting coir, weaving the ropes and toiling to press oil out of coconuts. Their food and comfort depended on what their hands had achieved at the end of the day.
You would think if someone has been restricted food, made to work unbelievable hours doing strenuous activity and punished for any small mistake with lashes; they have been punished enough. Unfortunately the jailers did not think so, they stripped inmates of their dignity by providing clothes that barely covered the essentials and restricting their access to toilet.
Every inmate was provided an earthen pot which was to be used for urinating and defecating. If you were restricted to your cell for days that is all you would have for those days. Requesting wardens for a breaks during the night was a futile exercise and in case it was granted there would be repercussions the next day.
The gallows were something which got me thinking, if I feel scared and disturbed looking at the noose how do those feel who have to execute the decisions made by the jury and hang or inject people to their death. It is definitely something which makes most of our workplaces feel like heaven in comparison. For sure it impacts people and changes them like nothing else. Funny thing is rarely do I hear anyone fighting about the person who pushes the button or pulls the lever.
The building today is pleasant, with narrow corridors, wide stairs and a bell up top on the watch tower. Views from the roof are beautiful, with sea, hulls, and green all around and a nice breeze easing temperatures a bit.
Would I suggest you visit the monument?
Is it really that horrible?
If you do visit the jail or you have already been there let me know what your reaction was.