Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray launched a ‘jail tourism’ initiative of the state government from Pune’s Yerawada prison, in a move to help students learn about historical experiences. The initiative was launched on January 26 via video conferencing. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and other top officials were also present at the Yerawada jail. Speaking to ANI, ADG (Prison) of Maharashtra, Sunil Ramanand said, ‘Yerawada jail is 150-years-old where several freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi, Lokmanya Tilak, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Sarojini Naidu and Subhas Chandra Bose had been imprisoned under the British rule.’ The ‘jail tourism’ was started to make students aware of the history. This initiative will be started in the coming days at several other prisons in Thane, Nashik, Dhule and Ratnagiri. Students and researchers will also get an opportunity to get information about historical events that took place in various jails through this unique initiative.
According to Hindustan Times, the initiative’s launch was undertaken by 10 students from Genba Sopanrao Moze Vidyalay, along with three teacher chaperons as the jail’s first guests on January 26, 2021—coinciding with the nation’s 72nd Republic Day. Financial Express notes that while the first phase of jail tourism in Maharashtra has started at the 150-year-old Yerawada jail, subsequently Nagpur, Thane and Ratnagiri jails will also be added to the list.
Reportedly, only 50 tourists will be allowed to visit at a time, provided they have an Aadhaar card, institution ID, or passport with them. However, the jail department reportedly has the authority to refuse entry to “undesirable persons.” Tourists must contact the superintendent of the jail, should they wish to visit. Ticket prices start at INR 5 for school students, INR 10 for college students, and INR 50 for general students.
Spread across 512 acres, this ancient jail is considered one of the biggest ones in South Asia. It is believed to have a capacity of 5,000 inmates at a time. Notably, the iconic Yerawada prison has earlier housed freedom fighters such as Mahatma Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and more during India’s fight for independence. The Poona Pact, signed by Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar, was also undertaken under a tree here.