From Left to Right: Samarendra Ghosh, Benoy Bose, Bejoy Krishna Banerjee,
A & N Administration Liason, Vishwanath Mathur, Bangeshwar Roy.

Pilot Team goes to Andaman on 20th March 1969

20th - 25th March 1969: The Fraternity Circle decided that it needed to send its own fact finding pilot team to ascertain the true situation at the Cellular Jail. The team consisting of Samarendra Ghosh, Benoy Bose, Bejoy Krishna Banerjee, Vishwanath Mathur and Bangeshwar Roy reached Port Blair on 20th March 1969. Their very first act was to visit the Cellular Jail and offer their deep homage to all dead and valiant co-fighters from the nearest sea-beach point where the bodies of three of their friends had been secretly thrown out to sea during the infamous hunger strike of 1933. Next they held an open inquiry in the presence of the Andamans & Nicobar Commissioner. It was determined that there was no Japanese bombing on the Andaman Islands and no buildings were damaged. This finding was quite contrary to what was reported by the authorities. There were only three wings remaining and the Central Tower. They came to know that there had been strong local protests from the people of the Andamans as well and they had sent a letter signed by B.L.Banerjee and three hundred other signatories to the Prime Minister to stop the demolition. They also came to know that there was a circular issued by the Home Department during the Interim Government, directing the officials to demolish all structures of British tyranny across India. The wings had been torn down to accommodate the Govind Vallabh Pant Hospital which was built on the Jail land, when there were other suitable places nearby with plenty of land. An earthquake had damaged the turret of the Central Tower in 1941. The memorial erected was in an obscure corner and hardly what the Fraternity Circle had in mind should be erected in keeping with the dignity of those who died there. It was also apparent that the authorities had no idea of the magnitude of what had happened in these prison walls and the significance of this place in our freedom struggle. It was also clear that they had no idea of how to honour the memory of those that died there.

30th March 1969: A Press Conference was held in Calcutta after the Pilot Team returned from the Andamans and reported its findings, that there had been no Japanese bombing on the islands. They had a huge response in support from the media and all the opposition parties in Calcutta.

8th April 1969: The Fraternity Circle representatives went to New Delhi. They lobbied the opposition parties. They all supported them, even to the extent that they were willing to move a private bill to stop the demolition and make the Jail a National Memorial. The Fraternity Circle next met the Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi and made her aware of all the facts and presented her with a second memorandum with signatures asking that the Government stop the demolition and declare the Cellular Jail as a National Memorial. She assured the delegation that she would move on this in parliament.

8th April 1969: A Press Conference was held in Delhi after meeting the Prime Minister. It was held at the residence of K.R.Ganesh, MP for Andamans & Nicobar Islands and Minister of State for Finance. The Fraternity Circle briefed the press about the Prime Minister's commitment to preserve the Jail and declare it as a National Monument. Photograph from Left to Right: Benoy Bose, Khushiram Mehta, Vishwanath Mathur, K. R. Ganesh (M.P. for A & N), Fakir Sen, Bangeshwar Roy.

30th April 1969: A letter dated 29 April 1969 arrived from the Home Ministry in which the Government agreed over the next four years to repair the Central Tower and the three wings of the Cellular Jail and declare it as a National Memorial.

May 1969 Vishwanath Mathur met with Y.B.Chavan (Home Minister) about life pension as an honorarium for the Ex-Andaman freedom fighters and got a positive response. When questioned in the Rajya Sabha on 5th December 1969 about this scheme of honorarium, as it was the first time that such a scheme was being introduced in paliament, Y.B.Chavan in eloquent terms replied that the Ex-Andaman freedom fighters were a "special class" of freedom fighters.

2nd October 1969: An honorarium for life was started from this day from the Central Government for the Ex-Andaman Political Prisoners.

15th August 1972: Tamra Patra was issued to the Ex-Andaman freedom fighters by the Central Government on the 25th Anniversary of India's independence.

December 1973: The Fraternity Circle met with the Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi to raise the outstanding issue of creating a proper and fitting Martyr's Memorial in keeping with the dignity of the freedom fighters. They also asked that the Government should charter a ship and take all the living Andaman freedom fighters and their families to the Cellular Jail to celebrate Republic Day over there. The Government said it was unable to accommodate this request, because the Cellular Jail was not ready and in a state to be visited. The Fraternity Circle decided to do it on its own. It was supported by individual states like Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal who made financial contributions to make the trip possible.

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