Yerwada Central Jail
Entrance to Yerwada jail campus
|Location||Yerwada, Maharashtra, India|
|Population||3,600  (as of 2005)|
|Managed by||Government of Maharashtra, India|
Yerwada Central Jail is a noted high-security jail in Yerwada, Pune, in Maharashtra. This is the largest jail in the state of Maharashtra, and also one of the largest prisons in South Asia, housing over 3,600 prisoners (2005) spread over various barracks and security zones, besides an open jail just outside its premises. Many well known freedom fighters individuals including Mahatma Gandhi have been jailed here.
The campus is spread over 512 acres, holds over 3,600 prisoners and is one of the largest prisons in South Asia. Within the campus, the main high security jail is protected by four high walls  and is divided into various security zones and barracks  it even has egg-shaped cells meant for high-security prisoners. It has been known for overcrowding and poor living conditions after news reports in 2003 lead to Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MHRC) issuing a notice.
Under British rule, the jail housed many freedom fighters especially between 1930–42, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhas Bose and Bal Gangadhar Tilak. In 1924, Veer Savarkar was also kept in the jail. Mahatma Gandhi spent several years in Yerwada Jail during India's freedom struggle, notably in 1932 and later in 1942 during the Quit India movement, along with many other freedom fighters. During his 1932 imprisonment, which started after his arrest in January 1932, Gandhi went on an indefinite fast to protest against the Communal Award on 20 September 1932, as a result of which the Poona Pact was passed, which he signed in the jail on 24 September 1932 and was released in May 1933.
During the Emergency era of 1976-77, many political opponents were detained in this jail as in several other jails all over India. Among those detained here were Balasaheb Deoras, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Pramila Dandavate, Vasant Nargolkar, Bhikuji Anna and many others.
In 1998, noted social worker Anna Hazare was briefly imprisoned here after he lost a defamation suit, and Bollywood film actor Sanjay Dutt in 2007  and among other noted criminals, scamster Telgi  and former underworld don Arun Gawli started his political career while being lodged in this jail, and is currently serving a life sentence here, in a murder case. The 26/11 Mumbai terror attacker, Ajmal Kasab who was jailed in 2008, was hanged and buried here on November 21, 2012. From 2002 to 2008, a noted smuggler from Singapore, Major Paul, was transferred here from Kolhapur Jail. He went on to study law in prison and became a noted prison activist. His petitions to the Bombay High Court resulted in the release of scores of prisoners wrongly imprisoned there. After his release, he continued his prison social works from Pune. Amongst his noted achievements were the changes made to the Prison Furlough rules via his own Furlough Application to the Bombay High Court. His life story was made into a TV serial episode shown on Sony TV under the "Prayaschit" series. He is currently an Ordained Pastor of the Protestant Church.
Yerwada Open Jail
Yerwada Open Jail (YOJ) is situated just outside the Yerwada Central jail within the campus and houses life prisoners, who have amicably completed five years in the central jail. Here they live under basic security, and are not put in prison cells. Over 150 inmates of the open jail grow organic vegetables, over five guntha of land, which are sent to the Yerwada Central Prison and the women’s prison. Besides this, the cow shed has 30 cows, whose dung is used in the farming activities.
A program designed to spread Gandhian principles in Yerwada prison was introduced in Yerwada prison in 2002 by Asim Sarode, founder of Sahyog Trust. As part of the programme, the prison inmates are taught Gandhian principles for one year, at the end of the year, they have to appear for an examination. Admission to the course is optional. Inmates of the jail produce nearly 5,000 clothes daily, supplied to jails across the state, it has its own textile mill and later around 150 inmates, including women, are involved in stitching these clothes. Some of these costumes, like uniforms of superintendents, prisoners, wardens, and guards, were made for Madhur Bhandarkar’s 2009 film Jail.
In 2007, in an effort to promote Indian medicinal plants, 8,500 saplings of sandalwood were planted within the central jail premises, while 9,000 saplings of Ashoka (saraca indica) in its open jail. An Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC) related facility was started at the jail on October 2, 2008, by the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS), and within the following year 55 inmates including six women tested HIV positive.
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- Media related to Yerwada Central Jail at Wikimedia Commons