“Can't you hear me crying?”: asks condemned cell of Alipore Central JailFortunately no one is occupying me tonight. So, I am getting the opportunity to express myself. I can see the jailor and other high-ranking jail officials are preparing for tomorrow's Independence Day celebration. The convicts are helping them. The entire jail premises have been cleaned. The flag-stand is now immaculately clean. The jail wardens are busy in distributing clean clothes to the convicts. In the jail-kitchen, preparation has started for tomorrow's special meal. The patients in the jail-hospital have been properly checked by the prison-doctors. Newspapers and periodicals have been kept prominently in the jail-library. And on the eve of Independence Day, my mind is travelling backwards. I am travelling backwards to those days before independence of this great country.
1908: I could see him. The man was occupying me, this very cell. A divine aura surrounded him. His body was the epitome of peace. The environment of the prison could't touch him. He was praying to God for salvation. Outside the cell, the eminent barrister, Chittaranjan Das, was presenting his argument to save the man from the gallows. But the man who had declined to join the most prestigious ICS was totally unaffected. I was thrilled that his verdict finally came. Arobindo Ghosh was saved from the gallows by Chittaranjan Das, who would himself become 'Deshbondhu' soon after this event. And Arobindo would go to Pondicherry to help others to seek God.
Arobindo Ghosh vacated me. But Mother Bengal had no dearth of his sons. How could I remain unoccupied when these great young men were there? Come 1910: Those two sickly young men were sent to this cell. I was astonished. These two boys were too weak even to move! What could they do? Later I got the news: Kanailal Bose and Satyendranath Datta, earlier arrested in 1908, somehow managed to get two pistols and with these weapons, they shot and killed the traitor, Naren Gossain inside the very prison! They were hanged.
Since 1908 to 1947, many great revolutionaries and freedom fighters like Subhash Chandra Bose, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, Promode Ranjan Chaudhury and many others spent their time with me, in this Condemned Cell. On many occasions, even the freedom fighters who were given simple imprisonment by the judiciary, were sent to the condemned cell to break their morals. But to their dismay, the British rulers totally failed in this regard.
Then on 15th August, 1947, India got its independence. However, the pain of partition and the subsequent tragedy still haunt me. Even after partition, some good people who thought for the welfare of the people, spent their time with me. You may differ with the policies of Charu Majumdar and Dr. Jack Preger, but you can't question their motives.
However, since the eighties, the occupants of this cell cause an abhorrent feeling in me. I am being made impure by the ordinary criminals, psychopaths, murderers and rapists who have been occupying me in recent time. I felt like vomiting when the last criminal of this jail who went to the gallows, entered this sacred spot in 2004 earlier occupied by Arobindo, Subhash or Bidhan. How could I tolerate that man who raped and killed a fourteen year old girl?
Since then (2004), I have been crying and praying to God! I am praying that no such criminal should ever enter the sacred premises.
Dear Indians! Can't you hear me crying? Please take oath on this Independence Day to develop the country in such a manner so that not even a single criminal remains in this great country. Take steps so that I, the condemned cell of Alipore Central Jail, remain unoccupied forever.