MUMBAI: In its attempt to popularise historical places, the Maharashtra government has decided to start ‘jail tourism’ with Pune’s Yerawada prison being thrown open to the public on January 26. “This is the first such initiative in the country. We want to bring the young generation closer to historically important places and events,” said Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
The 150-year-old Yerawada Jail is South Asia’s largest where several eminent freedom fighters were incarcerated by the colonial British government. Some of them are Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The prisons in Thane, Nashik and Ratnagiri will also be a part of ‘jail tourism’.
The Yerawada jail was witness to the historic Poona Pact, which was signed between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr BR Ambedkar on September 24, 1932, under a Mango tree for reservation of electoral seats for repressed classes, still exists.The places in Yerawada where freedom fighters stayed are also maintained and named after them. In recent years, Yerawada jail gained popularity following the hanging of Mumbai terror attack convict Azmal Kasab.
Deshmukh said the government has preserved memories of great leaders of India at Yerawada. “Rather than hiding these important places within the jail, we have decided to showcase them. The idea is to make people relate themselves with our history. This is the first great step towards jail tourism,” said Deshmukh. Guides will be provided to visitors and ticket prices will range from `5 to `50.
Due to the pandemic situation, only 50 visitors will be allowed daily to visit the significant places inside the jail. CM Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar will inaugurate the jail tourism initiative at Yerawada. The state government has also decided to open the Assembly building to the visitors during the non-session period. A formal announcement will be made shortly following a meet between state tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray and Speaker Nana Patole.