The historic Alipore Jail in Kolkata, where many revolutionaries including Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru were imprisoned during India’s freedom struggle, has been turned into museum to celebrate the country’s 75 years of Independence.
The museum, which brings to life notable moments from the freedom struggle linked to the prison and the revolutionaries who were lodged there, was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday.
Besides Netaji and Nehru, Aurobindo Ghosh, ‘Deshbandhu’ Chittaranjan Das, Kanailal Datta, Dinesh Gupta, and Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, the first Chief Minister of West Bengal, were among those who were imprisoned in the jail.
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, then a young Indira Priyadarshini Nehru, had visited the jail to see her father during the freedom struggle.
The prison cells that hosted Netaji, Nehru, and CR Das are part of the exhibition at the museum. A key attraction is a light and sound show that narrates incidents that took place inside the jail during the freedom struggle. The gallows, where revolutionaries like Kanailal Datta were hanged, is also on display.
The British-era Alipore Jail was closed in 2019 and the inmates were shifted to another correctional facility in Baruipur near Kolkata. The state government then decided to turn it into a museum and throw it open to the public.
Chief Minister Banerjee, speaking at the inaugural event, underlined the need to preserve the history related to the country’s freedom struggle. “We are doing that at the Bengal Assembly too where old files, including those related to Netaji, have been released and digitized,” she said.
She further alleged that history is being changed for political purposes.
“Why are new concepts being introduced? The new concept is to change historical incidents and everything else for a political purpose so that our new generations don’t get to know the truth about the country and our freedom struggle. The need of the day is to preserve our history,” Ms Banerjee said.
She recalled that on August 15, 1947, when the country was ushering in Independence, Mahatma Gandhi was in Kolkata trying to heal the wounds of partition.
“Gandhi ji was not present at the programme at the Central Hall of Parliament. He was in Beliaghata in Kolkata that midnight when we became free. He was here to ensure peace is restored and that there is no ‘divide-and-rule’ and communal tension, said Ms Banerjee.
State urban development minister Firhad Hakim said the museum showcases the cultural heritage of Kolkata as well as the historical contributions of the revolutionaries.
“They (revolutionaries) laid down their lives or fought their entire lives to bring us freedom. It is to show our gratitude to our freedom fighters. The visitors will get to see history come alive with the incidents that took place in the jail,” he told NDTV.