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History of the 100 year old Hindalga Jail Belagavi

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By uday

The Hindalga Jail or Hindalga Central Prison was constructed by the British in 1923, spans an impressive 99 acres, and boasts three gallows. With a capacity to house 1,162 prisoners, it stands as a significant landmark in Belagavi, located approximately 6 kilometers from the city center.

Among the various prisons in Karnataka, the Hindalga Central prison, known as the Hindalga Jail, reigns supreme as the most renowned and highly secure correctional facility. It holds the distinction of being the sole prison in the entire state equipped to carry out capital punishment, thanks to its three gallows. Notorious criminals, under-trials, forest brigands, and suspected SIMI activists find themselves confined within its walls.

The Hindalga Jail also holds historical significance, as it once detained prominent national leaders such as Gandhi and Nehru during the freedom movement. This prison played a crucial role in maintaining law and order in Belagavi, which served as a key military installation base during British rule. The necessity to imprison both freedom fighters prompted the establishment of the Hindalga Jail in 1923, boasting a total capacity of 1,162 and three gallows for capital punishment.

hindalga jail

Among the imprisonment of the freedom fighters, one notable case is the imprisonment of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, also known as Swatantryaveer Savarkar, for 100 days from April 4th, 1950 to July 13th, 1950. It is worth mentioning that the prison where he was held had the capability to carry out capital punishment. The last person to be hanged in this prison was Hanumappa Mariyappa Mariyal of Gokak, who was executed on November 9th, 1983, after being convicted of five murders. Prior to this, six people were hanged in 1976 and five others in 1978.

The prison itself covers an area of 99 acres, with approximately 30 acres dedicated to cultivation and grazing for cattle. It is a green prison, with abundant trees and vegetation in the open spaces between sections. Maintaining this environment requires significant effort from both staff and inmates.

The prison consists of two large complexes facing each other. One complex houses barracks for male convicts, while the other is for under-trial prisoners. The convict section is designed with the work area and barracks. This work area includes facilities for power loom, handloom, warping, and tailoring. The under trial section has cells and barracks. It also includes a library, carpentry section, tailoring area, and a few cells for high-security inmates.

There is a separate section for detainees requiring high security. This section is also where death row inmates spend their last few days and have their final wishes honored. A small gate from this section leads to the gallows, which is the only functional gallows in Karnataka.

hindalga gallows
The Gallows in Hindalga Jail

During the non-cooperation movement and the Dandi March, numerous freedom fighters from not only the Belagavi region but also from nearby areas were held in custody at Hindalga jail. This historical site has also served as a backdrop for several movies, such as the Kannada film ‘Minchina Ota’ and the Hindi film ‘Mohra’.

However, Hindalga jail has not only been known for its historical significance and cinematic appeal. It has also made headlines for the wrong reasons. There have been instances where convicts have made threatening calls, with the most recent incident involving a threat call to Nitin Gadkari, a Union Minister. Shockingly, these extortion calls originated from Hindalga Belagavi Jail.

According to reports, Afsar Pasha, a member of the notorious Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and a key figure in recruiting and organizing sleeper cells within the Belagavi jail, orchestrated these two extortion calls to Minister Nitin Gadkari. This revelation sheds light on the alarming activities taking place within the confines of Hindalga jail.

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