Reported by: kamalika sengupta
Last update: March 28, 2023, 10:44am IST
Kolkata (Calcutta), India
Some accounts believe that Netaji was taken to Fort William because the British felt that his presence in the Presidential Jail would cause unrest among the freedom fighters already there. (News18)
The army has done its best to preserve the cell on the ground floor of the historic four-story Dalhousie barracks, next to the guard room office, where Netaji is said to have been confined in 1940.
Not much is known about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s brief incarceration at Fort William, the current Indian Army Eastern Command headquarters in Kolkata, but the cell has captured the popular imagination as visitors flock to the historic site after it opened. to civilians as part of a ‘heritage walk’.
The army has done its best to preserve the cell on the ground floor of the historic four-story Dalhousie barracks, next to the guard room office, where Netaji is said to have been confined in 1940. The only changes that have been made They are a sample of photographs and documents related to the revolutionary leader.
While no official documents are available regarding his imprisonment at Fort William, some reports say that Netaji spent some time there after his arrest in 1940. Some accounts claim that Netaji was kept at Fort William because the British authorities could not risk placing the popular leader in prison. a civilian jail where he could lead a rebellion.
Netaji was arrested by the British in July 1940 for organizing protests against the Hollwell Monument in Calcutta.
The Hollwell Memorial was built in memory of those killed in Calcutta’s alleged Black Hole and the British soldiers who died trying to defend the original Fort William in the city against the forces of Siraj-ud-Daulah.
Siraj-ud-Daulah, the then Nawab of Bengal, had sacked the fort in 1756. The British, including John Zephaniah Hollwell, claimed that 123 soldiers and civilians died of suffocation inside a cell within the fort’s dungeon. This was called the Black Hole.
Netaji, however, demanded the removal of the Hollwell Monument. He maintained that this was an attempt to show Siraj-ud-Daulah in dim light. He also demanded that all mention of the incident be removed from school textbooks. This reportedly angered the British who arrested him in 1940.
Years later, historians confirmed that fewer than 20 people had died inside the ‘Black Hole’ cell.
There are not many accounts available as to how Netaji landed in the new Fort William after his arrest in 1940. Some believe that he was brought there because the British felt that his presence in the Presidential Jail would spark riots among the freedom fighters already housed. over there. Others feel that Netaji was taken to Fort William as a makeshift arrangement while the British decided what to do next.
The leader was eventually transferred to the Presidential Jail, where he resorted to fasting before being released on medical grounds in December 1940. His jailers reportedly attempted to force-feed him several times without success. In 1941 Netaji escaped to Europe via Kabul and landed in Germany.
tour of his cell
Since then, the Fort William cell has remained intact. The words ‘Netaji’s Cell’ inform visitors of the historical significance of the ground floor of Dalhousie Barrack.
A pair of wooden slippers are placed next to a makeshift bed on the floor, and the walls are decorated with photos of Netaji and his words.
“We don’t know if we will live or die fighting for our country, but we know we will win… Give me blood and I will give you freedom,” Netaji’s iconic words adorn the wall.
The cell may be small, but its significance is not lost on visitors. “Bose is our excitement. He was our hero,” said Haradhan Raha, a visitor to the monument.
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