In a unique initiative, the Maharashtra government has decided to throw open important prisons in the state for the first of its kind 'jail tourism', starting from 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 in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and other top officials will launch the jail tourism initiative on Republic Day," he said in a press conference.
"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 claimed.
Closely linked with India's struggle for Independence, Yerwada Central Jail was built in 1871 and spread across 512 acres of lush greenery making it one of the largest in South Asia. With this initiative, tourists, besides students, researchers and other groups will be permitted to go around and study various aspects of the jail steeped in history.
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.
Notable figures such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Pramila Dandawate, Balasaheb Deoras, Vasant Nargolkar had been jailed in YCJ during emergency.
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.
( from IANS with minor edits)