One of Goa’s oldest prison buildings, the 17th century Aguada fort, which is being refurbished, will feature statues of leading freedom fighters such as Ram Manohar Lohia and the father of Goan nationalism, T.B. Cunha, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Thursday.
The Aguada fort was originally built in the 17th century by the Portuguese colonists, to serve as a coastal sentinel to guard against roving Dutch and Maratha navies and as a water-refilling station for passing ships, before it was subsequently put to use as a high-security prison by the colonial administration.
After the liberation of Goa, the facility also served as a central jail, until a more modern prison facility came up at Colvale village in North Goa. Part of the prison complex was leased out to a five-star hotel group decades back.
“Statues of freedom fighters, who have been incarcerated in the prison complex, will be installed, including that of Ram Manohar Lohia and T.B. Cunha,” Sawant said.
Lohia, the Uttar Pradesh-born socialist leader, was significant to Goa’s freedom struggle, because it was his clarion call for freedom of the former Potuguese colony on June 18, 1946 that lent urgency and impetus to Goa’s struggle for independence following more than four centuries of foreign rule.
Once the renovation is complete, the former prison complex is expected to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this year.
Previously, the Goa government was tinkering with the idea of turning the former prison complex into a museum dedicated to the life and times of former Defence Minister and four-time Goa Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar, but the plan was shelved in the wake of opposition from the freedom fighters.