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Kala Pani: A Forgotten History

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BBC Wales History BBC Wales History | 15:37 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

A chance find of some reel-to-reel tapes lead Radio Wales journalist Selma Chalabi on a journey of discovery to the exotic Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal..


Selma's grandfather, Noel Kennedy Paterson, or NKP as he was known, had served as a member of the Indian Civil Service and had rose to the rank of Chief Commissioner of the Andaman and Nicobar, during the 1930s and 40s.


Kala Pani prison 

Cellular Jail on the Andaman Islands

Failing eyesight had forced NPK to commit his memoirs to tape, and it is from these crackling old tapes that Selma discovered references to a Penal Colony and a 'Cellular Jail' for political prisoners.

Intrigued by these references, Selma was inspired to further investigate the stories behind the tropical paradise.

For many Indians they still hold an unsavoury reputation as a place of exile, where many committed freedom fighters endured isolation, extreme hard labour and even death. Its Cellular Jail, is known to Indians as 'Kala Pani' or the 'Dark Waters'.

Selma Chalabi investigates the forgotten history of the notorious Andamans Penal Settlement and meets the last living Bengali freedom fighter to be held in the jail.

Kala Pani A Forgotten History is broadcast on Wednesday 21 April, 11am, BBC Radio Four

Read the news story on Kala Pani. 

Wales history has a number of helpful articles to help you trace your family tree.


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