In a unique initiative, the Maharashtra government has decided to throw open important prisons in the state for ‘jail tourism’, starting January 26 with the historic Yerwada Central Jail, Pune, on its 150th anniversary, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said here on Saturday.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will launch the initiative on Republic Day in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and other top officials, he said.
“This is the first phase of ‘jail tourism’. Later, it will be extended to other prisons like Nagpur, Nashik, Thane, etc. We shall levy a small fee, Rs 5 for school students, Rs 10 for collegians and Rs 50 for general tourists,” Deshmukh said.
Built in 1871, certain parts of the YCJ — spread across 512 acres of lush greenery, one of the largest in South Asia — shall allow tourists, besides students, researchers and other groups to go around and study various aspects of the jail steeped in history, and closely linked with India’s struggle for Independence.
Some of the most prominent historic figures who has spent time here include Mahatma Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose, Sarojini Naidu, Lokmanya Keshav (Bal) Gangadhar Tilak, Joachim Alva and Veer Savarkar.
During the Emergency, notables who were jailed included Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Pramila Dandawate, Balasaheb Deoras, Vasant Nargolkar, among others.
More recently, Kisan Baburao alias Anna Hazare, Bollywood actor Sunil Dutt, scamster Abul Karim Telgi, ex-mafia don Arun G. Gawli were also sent here by the courts.