''Alipore jail'' of Bellary, Karnataka - several interesting facts - colonial India

Alipore jail, Bellary, KA deccanherald.com
After the defeat of Tipu Sultan in the fourth and final Angelo-Mysore war commanded by  Governor General  Cornwallis  and his death on 4 May 1799  in the siege of  Srirangapatna,  large chunks  of his kingdom including  Bellary and other areas, now parts of Karnataka,  were annexed by the  East India  company. Subsequently, they became  part of the then  Madras Presidency. This ended the hegemony of Mysore kingdom over the southern states. Later the Mysore kingdom was succeeded by the Wodiyar royal family who were the former rulers prior to Hyder Ali. The Mysore rulers had subsidiary alliance with the English company. The princely state of Mysore had a British resident at Mysore to keep an eye on the activities of the Maharajah.  The English company in Madras  sent lord Thomas Munroe in 1800 to Bellary  as the District collector  to look after the revenue lands, and other civilian administrative duties.  In  1804  he mooted the idea of  constructing a military jail  by converting the barracks in the  cantonment in Bellary.

Unused Central /Alipore jail, Bellary, 2013  KA deccanherald.com

01. The Alipore jail, previously a   part of  cantonment’s infantry barracks   came up  toward the end of the 19th century. The military jail  with solitary confinements was meant for POW from other war theaters. The First World War (WWI) POWs from  France, Denmark and Turkey (1807–09)  were imprisoned in the Alipore  jail.

02. The Alipore jail is  no longer a functional one and was closed for good by the government after India's  independence along with  the  cellular jail (Kala Pani) at Port Blair, the Andaman islands; the cellular jail  has now become a National Heritage Museum highlighting the security aspects of the  prison complex, various harsh   punishments  undergone by the  exiled freedom fighters, nationalists, revolutionaries, etc., and the untold hidden stories of miseries  buried in the hallow walls of the jail rooms  prior to 1947. The colonists had used the Andaman prison since 1857 though the complex came up in 1896 and 1906. 

03. The entire  Alipore jail with over 14 jail blocks could not be converted into a  National Heritage Museum because  most of the  site was   converted into a medical  college. The central jail remained unused for a long time. 

04. The military Cantonment in Bellary, as big as the one in Madras (Chennai), was established by the  Raj  to station infantry, cavalry and artillery  units. This was to display their military prowess and domination in this region.  

05. The advantage of  Bellary is its  Strategic location:  It is in the center of  southern plateau of the Deccan in Peninsular India,  the  English could access their places of interest from the cantonment  barracks  easily in case of trouble. If unrest or riots happened  within the complex, they could be contained by  troops in the near-by cantonment.


06. The Cantonment at Bellary had better storage facilities for arms and ammunitions and military weapons.   Big  magazines  were built to supply huge quantities of ammunition to the entire British army in the southern plateau. 

07. Besides, the Cantonment  was  almost self contained with   other facilities like  golf links, race course, etc.,  to relax and  a large military hospital to take care  of the health of the inmates and workers.

08. It was Thomas Munroe in 1804   came up with a proposal to have a military prison in the barracks to lodge the POWs. He did not want to have a separate prison built as the English company was low on finances after the final war in the kingdom of Mysore.

09. Some officers who served here in the Cantonment later achieved fame  and status. For example:   the Duke of Wellington - Lord Arthur Wellesley (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852)   who successfully led the British troop against Tipu Sultan's army  in 1799 at  Srirangapatna (Karnataka). Tipu was killed by one of his soldiers. He was  one of the commanders who won and ended the Napoleonic Wars in Europe (1815).  Edward Williams (2 November 1892 – 20 January 1977), became  chief of the British army and he  successfully participated in WWI and WWII and saw action in Egypt and Africa. Apart, he was a good cricket player and participated in first class as well as county matches.

10. When freedom struggle  became  a serious issue  during the Quit India Movement this jail  was converted into  a civilian one for  senior  leaders of  our freedom struggle.

11. During August 1921 to 1922 the Malabar rebellion (Mappila  riots) against the British colonial forces  and the Hindu landlords  who were with the British,  over 2,000 Mapplas  from Travancore state were  arrested and imprisoned  as civilian prisoners at  Alipore  jails.

12. The British Crown administration, London   after the First War of Independence of 1857 started giving shape to the prison complex in Bellary in  the  1870s.  Because, they did not want to take chances  against the hardcore patriots who wanted to see free India. To the British India had been a ''Milch Cow'' - a perennial  source of income for the British treasury in London. So, the wily British did not want to lose their tight grip on India.

13. The  high security jail  complex Allipur jail  had an  electrified fence with watch towers at vantage points, so escaping from the jail complex was a tough one as the guards were on the vigil all the time.  I With  military Cantonment in close proximity, any  violent uprising within the prison complex  could be put down  easily.

14. During the freedom struggle prominent leaders of  of the Congress party who were lodged here. They were  Rajaji (first Gov. gen. of India and former CM of Madras) , Kamaraj Nadar (former CM of Madras), Potti Sri Ramulu (leader responsible for the formation of Andhra from Madras Presidency) , Sanjiva Reddy (former CM of AP), Bezwada Gopal Reddy, O V Alagesan (former Union minister), Tekur Subramanyam of Bellary, Bulusu Samba Murthy, Gantasala Venkateshwara Rao and many others 

15. Now the   Vijayanagara Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS) is functioning there and  all the  barracks of the soldiers except one  were  converted into doctor’s residences. 

16. In the recent past some   records on  nationalists  Rajaji and Tekur Subramayam   with their  signatures  were found in the Central Jail records here  and the solitary block where they stayed  was saved from near demolition as it was standing in the midst of new buildings.

17. The ‘Swatantra Soudha’Freedom Fighters’ Museum / ’the National Heritage Centre)  was built  in places  of the cells that once housed the freedom fighters.

.Alipore jail, Bellary. newindianexpress.com

18. The Alipore jail complex  got the state  heritage tag  in the recent past and  building construction in a 100 meter radius is prohibited and permission should be taken  from the ASI for repair of buildings. The idea was initially mooted way back in 2014  because of its heritage value when the  entire site was poorly taken care of by the state  with  wild  thorny bushes and plants growing around. It was a totally neglected site then.

Bellary Central prison, KA. udayavani.com


Arthur Road jail, Mubai with a Gym timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Above image: prisioners of Arthur Road .Jail  Mumbai have the luxury of body-building facility. This prison  will become the first  one in Maharashtra to have a full-fledged Gymnasium for the criminals. Mostly under trials stay here. No loose dumb-bells or other unattached equipment made of iron. All equipment will be attached to the machines to avoid assault using dumb-bells or any other iron stuff....... ....... 

A criminal hutterstock.com

19. When new block were built in the 1960s  by the state government, way back the old  prison block became unused for a long time. So in  2013 the police dept. Karnataka decided to upgrade over  200 high-security solitary  confinement cells in the old block of Bellary jail. Reason: to lock up   to notorious hardcore   prisoners who enjoyed  various luxuries inside prison taking advantage of overcrowding. They wanted to create their  own fiefdoms. They could choose the prison of their choice where they had  televisions, small kitchens and other luxuries. In 2013 the additional director general of police (prisons) K V Gagandee wanted to put an end to this infringement and confine the tough criminals in solitary confinements. 

 One should not get confused with the  famous  Alipore Jail or Alipore Central Jail, also known as Presidency Correctional Home,  in Alipore, Kolkata. Here,in  the  a maximum security prison, political prisoners were kept under British rule. The famous inmates  included among others  Subhas Chandra Bose.( a great patriot and founder of INA- Indian National Army and Aurabindo Ghose (Philosopher who founded Aurabindo Ashram in Pondicherry).. Both were qualified for ICS, but they preferred to work for India's freedom.  The Alipore Central Jail in Kolkata is functional  now and it also houses the Alipore Jail Press.