The Maharashtra Government has decided to open a section of the Yerawada Central Prison for tourists from January 26.
On Saturday, Home minister Anil Deshmukh announced the jail tourism initiative in Nagpur. Of the 60 prisons in the state, Thane, Aurangabad, Ratnagiri, Dhule, Nashik, Chandrapur, Byculla women’s jail and others, are of historical importance.
Proposal for the State Prisons Department
On the state prisons department’s proposal, the state government has decided to launch jail tourism at Yerawada.
Additional director-general (prisons) Sunil Ramanand told TOI, “For the first time in India, we are starting the concept of jail tourism at the Yerawada facility, opened in 1871 because it has historical importance. The younger generation is not aware of the sacrifices made by freedom fighters and revolutionaries during the Independence movement. We want them to visit the jail and get a glimpse of its importance as it has been preserved for a very long time.”
Significance of Yarawada Jail
He also said, “The Poona Pact — an agreement signed between Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar on the reservation of electoral seats for depressed/upper caste in the legislature of British India government — was signed at the Yerawada jail in 1932.”
Ramanand said, “The Poona Pact was signed under a tree, which we have maintained till date. The tourists will get an opportunity to see the tree. We shall allow them to visit the Gandhi and Tilak yards and we shall show them places where leaders of the Independence struggle were lodged.”
The senior IPS officer pointed out that national leaders like Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Motilal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and others, were lodged at the Yerawada jail. Revolutionaries like the Chaphekar brothers were hanged here during the British regime.
“Terrorists Sukhdev Singh, alias Sukha, and Harjinder Singh, alias Jinda, who had assassinated General Arun Kumar Vaidya in Pune, and the lone 2008 Mumbai terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab were hanged to death at Yerawada jail,” he said.
Benefits of the Order
“The jails, located in the state, have remained out of bounds for the general public but now we shall be allowing students from schools, colleges, universities, and other institutes to visit the jail in a group of 50, per day, and charge them a nominal fee. Four jail guards have been appointed as guides, and they will share details of historical events with the tourists,” Ramanand said.