Kolkata’s historic Alipore Jail, where many revolutionaries including Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru were imprisoned during India’s freedom struggle, has been converted into a museum to celebrate 75 years of the country’s independence.
The museum, which brings to life the notable moments of the freedom struggle associated with the jail and the revolutionaries lodged there, was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday.
Besides Netaji and Nehru, Aurobindo Ghosh, ‘Deshbandhu’ Chittaranjan Das, Kanail Dutta, Dinesh Gupta, and the first Chief Minister of West Bengal, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy were among those imprisoned.
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the then young Indira Priyadarshini Nehru had gone to jail to visit her father during the freedom struggle.
The jail cells that hosted Netaji, Nehru and CR Das are part of the exhibition at the museum. A major attraction is a light and sound show that narrates the events that took place inside the jail during the freedom struggle. The gallows is also on display, where revolutionaries like Kanilal Dutta were hanged.
The British-era Alipore Jail was closed in 2019 and the prisoners were shifted to another correctional center in Baruipur, near Kolkata. The state government then decided to convert it into a museum and open it to the public.
Speaking at the inaugural function, Chief Minister Banerjee stressed on the need to preserve the history related to the freedom struggle of the country. “We are doing the same in the Bengal Assembly, where old files, including those related to Netaji, have been released and digitized,” he said.
He further alleged that history is being changed for political purposes.
“Why are new concepts being introduced? The new concept is to replace historical events and everything else for a political purpose so that our new generations do not know the truth about the country and our freedom struggle. This is the need of the day. To preserve our history,” Ms Banerjee said.
He recalled that on 15 August 1947, when the country was moving towards independence, Mahatma Gandhi was trying to heal the wounds of partition in Kolkata.
“Gandhi ji was not present at the function in the Central Hall of Parliament. He was in Beliaghata, Kolkata at midnight when we got independence. He came here to restore peace and ensure ‘Divide and Rule’ Communal tensions, Ms. Banerjee said.
State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said that the museum showcases the cultural heritage of Kolkata as well as the historical contribution of the revolutionaries.
“They (revolutionaries) gave their life or fought their whole life to get us freedom. This is to show our gratitude towards our freedom fighters. Visitors will get to see the history come alive with the events that happened in the prison.” He told NDTV.