School students visit Yerawada Jail in Pune, India, on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. (Shankar Narayan/HT)
School students visit Yerawada Jail in Pune, India, on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. (Shankar Narayan/HT)

Jail tourism initiative inaugurated by Maharashtra CM in Pune

The launch of the event was done by 10 students from Genba Sopanrao Moze Vidyalay, chaperoned by three teachers, and were among the first few tourists inside the jail premises.
By Shalaka Shinde, Pune
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 04:48 PM IST

The jail tourism initiative had been inaugurated by Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of Maharashtra through video conferencing at Pune’s Yerawada Central Jail on Tuesday (January 26). Ajit Pawar, Deputy CM and guardian minister of Pune, was present at the prison premises on the occasion of the 72nd Republic Day.

The launch of the event was done by 10 students from Genba Sopanrao Moze Vidyalay, chaperoned by three teachers, and were among the first few tourists inside the jail premises.

“Now one doesn’t need to commit a crime in order to visit the jail. Instead of “jail bharo”, people can now indulge in “jail firo”. This book by Balasaheb Thackeray describes the then jails - a container with phenyl, aluminium cutlery, and a space to sleep. That cutlery served all kinds of purposes,” said Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of Maharashtra while speaking through video conference.

He also reminisced about the historical importance of the jail premises where the revolutionary Chapekar brothers were sent to the gallows for the murder of British official WC Rand and his security escort for their brutalities on citizens of Pune during the plague in Pune in 1890s. The same yard where the Chapekar brothers were hung for their crimes, was also the place where Ajmal Kasab, convicted in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, was also hanged to death.

“Nana Patole and Aditya Thackeray had spoken about expanding tourism in Maharashtra only days before this proposal was put forth. Home minister Anil Deshmukh came up with the unique idea and came to my house one day to put it across. ADG (Prisons) Sunil Ramanand told me about the places where various freedom fighters were imprisoned. 150 years is not a small time period. Even today it is a specimen of architecture. Balasaheb Thackeray had also been in this jail. He had written to Late Meena Tai. I happened to come across that letter recently,” said Ajit Pawar, deputy home minister, Maharashtra.

Freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Motilal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had been imprisoned here during the freedom struggle of India.

“We visited the Gandhi yard, Nehru yard, the fashi (hanging) yard, and witnessed history that we teach our children. It was an experience that brought those lessons to life,” said Nathu Jagdale, teacher at Moze school.

Local legislator Sunil Tingre, divisional commissioner Saurabh Rao; district collector Rajesh Deshmukh; ADGP (prison) Sunil Ramanand, and police commissioner Amitabh Gupta were also present during the inauguration.

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