The state government is all set to shift the Alipore Central Correctional Home, which is of immense historical importance, to a new campus at Baruipur, the proposed headquarters of South 24 Parganas district.
Sources said that this is the first step towards evacuating the century-old correctional homes from the posh Alipore area. After Alipore Central Correctional Home, two others in the same area – Presidency Correctional Home and the state’s only Women’s Correctional Home – would also be shifted to somewhere off Eastern Metropolitan Bypass.
Though a final decision on construction of alternate infrastructure and shifting the other two correctional homes is yet to be taken up, work is going on a war footing to implement Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s project of shifting the Alipore Jail, which was established in 1906 and later became Alipore Central Correctional Home.
It was announced during the last session of the West Bengal Assembly that the state government decided to set up a correctional home at Baruipur in South 24 Parganas on a plot of about 17 acre. Now, it has been decided to transfer Alipore Central Correctional Home to the Baruipur one.
Rajib Banerjee, the state Correctional Home Minister, said on Sunday morning: “The decision has been taken to shift the Alipore Central Correctional Home to Baruipur, where a state-of-the-art correctional home will come up. The planning to set up the correctional home, like those in the developed countries is on. The capacity of accommodating inmates in the new correctional home will be much more than that of in Alipore Central Correctional Home”.
When asked what would come up instead of the existing Alipore Central Correctional Home, he said: “The decision in this regard is yet to come. It will be planned later.”
The inmate capacity in Alipore Central Correctional Home is 1900. However, there are above 2200 inmates at present, including dreaded criminals like Aftab Ansari and Maoist leaders Chhatradhar Mahato and Telugu Dipak. Many terrorists from a neighbouring country are inmates in the correctional home as well.
The correctional home has several cells which are of immense historical importance, and according to an official of the home they are now considered heritage sites. There are around 30 heritage cells, ten in one single-storeyed building. In one of these cells, former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was imprisoned by the Britishers for three to four months in 1934.
There is another two-storeyed heritage building, with ten lockups in each floor, where freedom fighters, including Chittaranjan Das, Jatindra Mohan Sengupta, Bidhan Chandra Roy and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, were imprisoned in 1930s.
This is the only correctional home in the state which contains a gallows. It is the same one where, in 1931, British colonialists hanged freedom fighter Dinesh Gupt; Gupta had entered Writers’ Building, along with Benoy Basu and Badal Gupta, dressed in European attire, and shot dead the then Inspector General of Prison Col NS Simpson in protest against his brutal oppression of freedom fighters in jails. Dinesh Majumder and Ananta Hari Mitra, were the two other freedoms fighters, who were also hanged here in 1934 and 1926 respectively.
In recent times, Dhananjay Chatterjee was hanged for the last time in 2006, in connection with the rape and murder of 19-year-old Hetal Parekh.
Besides the historically important cells, the correctional home which may be turned into a museum, also houses nine wards. Each ward is a two-storeyed building, with lockups on both the floors. There are around 100 more cells. One inmate is generally kept in each of the cells. In a worst case scenario, three persons are kept at a time; although, according to the rules two persons cannot be given shelter in one such cell.
Alipore Central Correctional Home also houses the biggest hospital among all the correctional homes in the state, which is a 100-bed hospital. However, in the new correctional home the hospital will be better than the one presently in the Alipore Home. There also is a two-storeyed school building which inmates regularly visit to get educated and a court room as well, where ‘special cases’ are often heard.
It is learnt that the planning for construction of the new correctional home in Baruipur is being done keeping all the aspects in consideration.