Aaj English TV

Monday, September 25, 2023  
08 Rabi ul Awal 1445  

The history of Mach Jail’s Chilli Ward and its connection with freedom fighters

British Raj-era prison has been compared to India's Cellular Jail
Centrail Jail Mach entrance. Photo from earlier this year from then corp commander and IG FC’s visit (via twitter)
Centrail Jail Mach entrance. Photo from earlier this year from then corp commander and IG FC’s visit (via twitter)

Not only is Mach Jail one of Balochistan’s high-security prisons, it is also the most notorious.

Located in Bolan district’s Mach tehsil, about 60 kilometers from Quetta, the jail was established in 1928 during British colonial rule, the Raj.

Next to the jail’s Gate 4 is the jail’s ward Number 9, which has been nicknamed the ‘Chili Ward’ — Mirchi Ward in Urdu.

Only a day before Imran Khan survived an assassination attempt in Punjab’s Wazirisabad, Federal Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah Khan said that if Khan was to be arrested he would be placed in this very ward.

But understanding why it is called the ‘Chili Ward’ needs a careful look at the history of the place.

Chances of Imran Khan’s arrest seem slim as of this moment but even if it does happen and the interior minister stays true to his word, he will not be the first high-profile political prisoner incarcerated in this jail.

Nawab Akbar Bugti, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, Sardar Attaullah Mengal, Sadiq Imrani and journalist Siddique Baloch have all done time here.

Mach Jail is one of the most ill-reputed jails in the whole country. It is situated in one of the hottest parts of the province and its remoteness has often been compared to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands, more commonly known as Kala Pani.

Like the Cellular Jail, during colonial rule, March jail was a common destination for freedom fighters who raised their voice or weapons against the Raj.

For the most stubborn prisoners whose spirits could not be broken despite the horrors of jail and incarceration, the British set up a special ward. This ward was situated in a far corner of the jail and prisoners would be kept in isolation. Here, extra chilies would be added to the prisoner’s meals making the little food they had completely inedible. That is how the worst cell in one of the worst jails in the land got its name.

The last time the jail was in the news was when MQM worker Saulat Mirza’s death sentence was carried out here.

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imran khan

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