(Last Updated on : 19-07-2013)
The Andamans are indissolubly associated with catastrophic memories of sufferings and sacrifices of the heroic sons of India and thus have gained a prime place in the history of the Indian struggle for independence. Since that place is rendered sacred by the dust of the martyrs' feet and their sweat and blood, it not only enkindles interest and curiosity in the minds of every Indian but also it becomes a place of pilgrimage. The Ex-Andaman Political Prisoners Fraternity Circle very rightly refers to the Andamans as Mukti Tirtha (The Pilgrimage of Salvation).
The deportation to the Andamans started in 1858 with the political prisoners of what Vinayak Damodar Savarkar called the Indian War of Independence 1857, in which Mangal Pandey became the first martyr on 10th May 1857. This struggle was founded both on religious and political grounds to resist the cruel suppression let loose by the East India Company (EIC). Freedom fighters were obliterated in thousands. There was hardly any region in northern India where corpses were not hanging from gallows, which reminded the people about the wrath of the government: Thousands were sentenced to imprisonment by holding fake trials.
The exact number of freedom fighters who were expatriated to the Andamans cannot be determined for lack of relevant records.
Sadly, all the names of the freedom fighters of 1857 deported to the Andamans are not available, but a few of them have come to light through the official record in the archives or memoirs and biographies of the individuals.
Two names are, however, mentioned in Dr. J.P Walker's letter to the Government of India in 1858. One of them was Narain sentenced for life on 31st July 1857 to transportation for having agitated sedition against the British rule in the cantonment of Dinapore
). As his plan fell flat, he was arrested and transported to the Andamans. On the fourth day of Narain's arrival, he tried to escape from the Chatham Island by swimming to the mainland Port Blair (At that time Chatham was a separate island but has since been connected with Port Blair by a bridge) and had almost succeeded. He was fired upon, and was made to alter his course. Narain was captured by Boat's crew. He was sentenced to death and hanged on the same day. Narain was the first to go to the gallows in the Andamans. The other was Naranjan Singh who was convicted in Bengal for absconding. He was sentenced to expatriation for life and was sent to the Andamans. He hung himself on Ross Island
on 14th March 1858.
: There is also the authentic record of who was a sepoy of 14 Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. He was convicted of mutiny and desertion and was sentenced on 27th September 1857 by the commissioner at Jhelum to transportation for life with labour in fetters. Dudhnath reached Port Blair by Roman Emperor from Karachi on 6th April 1858, and was allotted the number 276. He escaped from Ross Island on 23rd April 1858 along with ninety other convicts upon rafts built from "felled trees bound together with tent ropes". Some of them were killed by the aborigines while the others died of starvation. Only Dudhnath, though wounded, pulled through the attacks. He had suffered a fall, from where he was taken by the aborigines to their fold and they ultimately developed a friendship with him.
Tewari lived with them for about a year and married two girls of their clan. He became a sort of authority on the aborigines of the Andamans, having communicated with them probably in their own language. He returned to the convict station on 17th May 1859 and gave prior information to the Britishers of the planned attack by the aborigines on them. The British prepared with prior notice and rebuffed the attack of the aborigines which was known as "the battle of Aberdeen". As a result Dudhnath Tiwari was given a 'free pardon' by the Government of India on 5th October I860.
Alatna Fazlul Huq
was a maulvi from Khairabad (Sitapur District
, Uttar Pradesh
). He had resigned from the office of sarishtadar of Delhi Residency to join the revolt. He had framed the constitution of independent Delhi. After the fall of Delhi, he returned to Khairabad but was captured and deported off to the Andamans in 1858 where he breathed his last. He was a friend of Mirza Galib
, the famous Urdu poet and the latter has gloriously mentioned the transportation of Fazlul Huq to the Andamans in his writings.
was a maulvi from Allahabad
who had donned the leadership of rebel army there. After his defeat on 12th July 1857 he escaped with his wife and a few followers to Bombay via Sachin (near Surat). But before he could board the ship for Haj he was captured and transported to the Andamans where he died.
was also a maulvi. He was one of those who had attacked the Hyderabad
Residency on 17th July 1857. He was transported to the Andamans on 28th June 1859 where he expired in 1884, a little before he could complete his sentence.
Hitnanohal Singh and Kura Singh (father and son) belonged to Thana Bhavan a village in Muzaffar Nagar district (Uttar Pradesh). They were also transported to the Andamans for their participation in the Revolt of 1857. The father is believed to have suffered for thirty-five years in the Andamans, while the year of son's death is not known.
was the brave zamindar of Ghess (Orissa
). He along with his whole family and friends fought unremittingly against the British till 1865. His father, brothers and friends were executed, while Hatte Singh was transported to the Andamans. A temporary amnesty failed to mortify this gutsy family.
was the Bhil chieftain of Dholi Bowlee (Baiwani State) Nimar, a region in Madhya Pradesh
. He with his band of tribal fought alongside Tatya Tope. He was defeated by Capt. Keatings in 1859 during which Bhima Naik escaped into forests. He was captured and sent to the Andamans where he passed away after two years.
was the headman of Anand
(now famous for its dairy products, Kaira district, Gujarat). He attacked the British camp at Lotia Bangol (Gujarat
). He was arrested and sent to the Andamans where he breathed his last.
was a harbinger of hunger strikers. He was resident of Mitauli (district Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh). He refused to eat while he was being transported to the Andamans for his mutinous activities in 1857 and he dropped dead on the way.
The Who's Who of Indian Martyrs, Vol. III, also reveals the names of the martyrs who had laid down their lives overseas. They are - Bahadar Singh, Devi, Futta, Gulab Khan, Jawahar Singh, Mahibullah, Manju Shah, Maya Ram, Noora, Qaim Khan, Sirajuddin
and Venkat Rao
Mir Jafar Ali Thaneswari is also referred to by L.R Mathur in his book as a patriot of the 1857 national uprising who was transported to the Andamans. He was the lone soul who had returned to the mainland after undergoing imprisonment in the Andamans.
The names of Duti Ram Barua
(Assam), Bahadur Gaonbarah
), Madhu Mallick (Assam), Sheikh Formud All
(Assam) are given by Professor Chintamani Shukal in his Hindi book entitled Yatnabhumi Andaman Ka Romanchkariltehas, besides endorsing the other names. These names also find mention in the booklet published by Andaman and Nicobar Administration.