Yerwada Central Jail in PuneYerwada is one of the most populated places near Mula Mutha River in Pune, Maharashtra. Places like Kasturba Gandhi Smriti Mandir - on 6.5 acres of land across River Yerwada, which has the ashes of wife of Mahatma Gandhi in memorial – makes Yerwada historically significant. Yerwada also houses one of the oldest prisons in India which was built way back by the British and was named as Yerwada Central Jail Pune.
Yerwada Central Jail CampusYerwada Central Jail is the largest jail in Maharashtra. As of 2005, the listing of the number of prisoners in Yerwada Jail is around 3,600. Spread over an area of 512 acres of land it is a high security jail, marked with security zones, barracks and high-alert areas. Huge walls protect the area from outside invasion. It also has the special egg-shaped cells. Also, there is Yerwada Open Jail, which is outside the Central Jail but within the campus; it works as a rehabilitation centre for prisoners.
History of Yerwada Central Jail PuneYerwada Central Jail was built in 1871 outside the city limits by the British. The Jail is one of the most famous prisons due to its involvement in the freedom struggle. It housed many freedom fighters during 1930 to 1942, which includes Mahatma Gandhi, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhas Bose and Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Mahatma Gandhi went to an indefinite fast in Yerwada Jail after he was arrested in January 1931 which resulted into the agreement between Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi named as Poona Pact on September 24, 1932.
Gandhian Principles in Yerwada JailSince Mahatma Gandhi has spent many years in the confinement of this jail, during the Freedom Movement, it is often believed that his principles of non-violence and rightfulness have emerged into the prison walls. The belief became stronger when it was proved that the power of these principles can change the most heinous minds towards positive ways. It was in 2002 when a program was designed on the Gandhian principles by the founder of Sahayog Trust, Asim Sarode, and was introduced in Yerwada Jail. It was a one-year course where Gandhian principles were studied followed by an annual test. Here admission was not compulsory and whoever wishes to study had the permission to enrol for the course.
Later, Sahayog Trust conducted a survey and found that an astonishing 94 percent showed respect to Mahatma Gandhi and accepted his principles. 66 percent of the prisoners believed their activities as wrong and were willing to ask for forgiveness from victims’ families. It has also been marked a much lower violence incidents among the inmates of the Yerwada Jail as claimed by Deputy Inspector General of the western region.
This has no doubt marked as a great initiative which has pulled in humanity in the minds of criminals in Yerwada Jail.
Yerwada Open Jail PunePrisoners are shifted in Yerwada Open Jail after they complete five years in prison (Central Jail) and does not need heavy security; they can be kept with basic security arrangements. They are also not kept in prison cells. They are taught several things so that they can move in ahead in life. They are given task of growing organic vegetables; they are taught various farming activities. It is also the first open jail for women in the state. Women too work in the 17-acre farmland adjacent to the jail and live in a better way. It is stated that getting a chance to work in open jail is a result of good conduct and if good conduct continues the state may decide towards remission of the punishment years.
Yerwada Central Jail has many stories to tell from the historic time to the present days when Ajmal Kasab, the heinous terrorist was hanged in the jail premises. The Jail, however, is not just a punishment unit but a step towards reforming thoughts and ideas and finding positive meaning of life.