(Last Updated on : 31-01-2009)
The Cellular Jail was a virtual hell. The wearisome labour, insults and the humiliation to which they were subjected had depleted them. The last hope of getting some respite by working outside the jail had also been negated. To get rid of such a life, Indubhusan Roy committed suicide in his cell on the night of 28th April 1912, by tearing his shirt and making a rope out of it and hanging himself from the skylight. A comprehensive and extensive account of Indu's last days in the jail leading to his suicide has been given by V.D. Savarkar in his book, which reveals the circumstances under which the handsome young man convicted in the Manicktola Bomb Case and sentenced to ten years rigorous imprisonment, was tortured in the Andaman jail.
He states that Indu was a sensitive youth who could not bear the physical and mental torture awarded to him by the jail authorities. He had always been talking of ending his life though Savarkar, himself twenty-five years of age and sentenced for fifty years, tried to console him that Indu should never think of self-annihilation. Barrie hatched up the story that it was suicide through insanity and that he had fallen out with the co-convicts previous to his death. But it cannot be said as is evident from the details revealed by Savarkar and Barin Ghose that Indu was a victim of the extreme affliction dispensed to him by the jail management. Indubhusan Roy was one of those who were sent out to work. But he found the work outside more grueling and humiliating compared to the labour inside. He was of the notion that he would get some concessions, but, instead, he found that he had more rigorous work to do in the settlement. If a prisoner outside happened to fall ill, he was sent to a hospital relatively better than the hospital in the jail. But if a political prisoner became sick, he was punished all the more for that sickness. For if he had fever or suffered from loose motion, he was made to walk the distance of four miles, carrying his own bed, to the jail, and was instantly locked up in his own cell. Indubhusan was sick and tired with it and returned to the jail of his own accord. Chains were put on his arms and hands and he was shoveled back to his old residence; but he refused to go back to his work in the settlement. He was punished severely for this act of rebellion. No sooner was Indu put in his cell than Mr. Barrie arrived to the scene. Indubhusan was immediately marched off to work on the Kohlu (the arduous work in the oil grinding mill). He was just sickened with his life. While Indu was taking his quota of oil to the jamadar, Veer Savarkar again met him and would address only in a few words of solace.
He would try to entreat Indubhusan, soften him, or even argue with him. These words were exchanged in a hurry and very secretly. Two or four days passed off after then. Every evening Savarkar used to watch Indubhusan returning from the Kohlu dog tired, with perspiration on his face, the husk of the coconut clinging like sawdust to his body from top to toe, chains clanging on his feet, a weight of about 30 lbs. on his head, and a sack of husk on his shoulders. One fine morning as the cell doors were unlocked for the day and convicts were all coming out, a warder approached them and requesting not to disclose his name, broke the news that Indubhusan had hanged himself last night. Everybody was shell-shocked by the news. Only yesterday evening every prisoner had seen him a man in the blossom of youth before he went into his cell for the night. And in the morning he was found hanging from the top window, hung by a noose made of his torn clothes, his neck broken, his tongue drooping out, his feet dangling, his throat strangulated by a cord whose one end lay tied to the bar of the window, and corpse suspending from it in the mid air. The young man must have found life too taxing, for the loss of his self-respect, to bear and to endure. A dark deep shadow had spread over the whole building. Once in two months such incidents started happening. But Indubhusan was the first political prisoner of his kind to put an end to his life thus.
Both Barin Ghose and V.D. Savarkar have written that the warders who had gone there with the jailor had seen a note tied to the neck-ticket on the body of Indubhusan. But that was never produced by the jail authorities. However, to cover up their own sins, Barrie came out with the version that Indu had done himself to death in a frenzy of insanity and personal quarrels. He also tutored the jamadar, the warder and the petty officer to engineer it. The political prisoners swore the truth. On the other side, his compatriots sent message after message to assure the officers that the deceased was not an insane person, that he did not commit suicide on a sudden, that he had done it knowingly and as the result of the severities and vilifications he had to bear in that prison. The officers were requested to call independent evidence to prove the truth of the inmates' deposition, and they suggested for that purpose the name of a person whom Mr. Barrie could not badger. The officer accepted the offer and the witness gave his evidence undeterred by the circumstances around him. He was one of the editors of an Allahabad journal Swaraj, who were all sentenced for sedition and went to Kala Pani as political prisoners. He proved to the hilt that the deceased was a victim of the anguishes he had to suffer in the prison presided over by Mr. Barrie. However, this 'beast' of a man Mr. Barrie, continued to generate several contradicting versions about the note found with Indubhusan.
Later on, Barrie came out with another version that Indu used to read the book on theosophy and it had softened his brain. Theosophy led its devotees to practise yoga and yoga with its breathing exercises and other conditions of the body had an adverse effect on the brain. The chief commissioner of Andamans, in his letter dated 30th May 1912 to the home ministry, gave a different version of the circumstances leading to Indubhusan Roy's suicide, which was obviously a version hatched up to obscure the real cause. But the fact remains that Indubhusan had committed suicide because of the torturous treatment meted out to him by the jail authorities.