Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

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Brij Kishore Singh Deo

South Andaman, Andaman & Nicobar Islands

August 05, 2022

Brij Kishore Singh Deo was Maharaja of Puri of Orissa (now Odisha), popularly known as Maharaja of Jagannath Puri. He was one of the important convicts on the list of the Pre-Cellular Jail prisoners brought to the Andaman Islands. He was deported to Andamans along with his lieutenants and treated as an ordinary prisoner in the Viper Jail situated on Viper Island.

The conditions at the jail were such that the place got the notorious name, "Viper Chain Gang Jail". Those who had challenged the might of the British authority were chained together and confined at night by a chain running through the coupling of irons around their legs. It was at this jail that members of the Chain Gang were put to the hardest labor.

Mohammed Jafar Thanesari, a Wahabi convict, arrived in Andamans in January 1866. His prison life he elaborated in his book ‘Tawarikh-i-Ajeeb’. In this book, Thanesari revealed that in Andamans Brij Kishore Singh Deo was treated as an ordinary prisoner and had to face torture. In Thanesari’s own words “Whenever he could not finish his assigned arduous tasks due to his delicate constitution, he was punished by caning, confinement, and millstone duty. Unable to cope with these hardships, this prince ly died in Viper Jail”. Thanesari further wrote that Mr. Limiteyr, a European convict from Oudh was given a bed and a separate house. He and Raja of Jagannath came at the same time but received different treatments. Thanesari further mentioned that Brij Kishore Singh Deo received the punishment of canning, confinement, grinding of grain, etc. He died of this hard work and brutal torture at Viper Jail in 1879.