Built in 1871, Yerwada Jail is the biggest jail in the Asia. It is situated in
Yerwada area of Pune city in Maharashtra. The prison is spread over an area of
500 acres with a capacity of 2500 inmates, which is currently being occupied by
The national movement during the British era gave rise to the concept of prison.
And the forts were converted into prisons. During the British era, our freedom
fighters including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallav bhai Patel, Shubhash
Chandra Bose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, etc, had served as inmates in this particular
prison. In the memory of our freedom fighter , the Gandhi Yard has been built
within the jail, with the statues built inside and even the wall is filled with
the frames containing the pictures which describes the term of the stay, the
belongings and the details of our freedom fighters.
The entrance of the Yerwada Jail was earlier engrossed with the British crown,
but after independence it was replaced by the Ashoka Emblem. The prison has two
security walls, where the presence of one wall cannot be determined through the
other wall. The prison comprises of Canteen, library, radio stations, meeting
hall, stationary stores, small function hall, kitchen, and also different small
production areas to facilitate expertise of work in factories.
There exists a
projector room, for the prisoners with a capacity of 300, which displays
programs focusing on mentality change. The hospital built inside the prison is
well equipped and only for the purpose of surgery the inmates are taken to a
government hospital near the Pune Railway Station. There exists a canteen for
the prisoners which operates from 6am to 6pm every day.
The library consists of
more than 10000 books and has newspapers in 3 different languages. The radio
station has its speakers which are in all the barracks also every barrack has TV
in it. The wiring parts of Mahindra boleros, Shoes named as inmates as brand,
Clothes and types of furniture are made in the production areas situated
inside the jail premises. The kitchen is well built with many shelves properly
built, places to cook different food, Prisoners work as chef in these kitchens.
There is a proper place built even to cut the vegetables. The jail premises
have been properly maintained and have also devoted prisoners who work to keep
the premises clean and green along with jail officials.
Inside the prison the prisoners are categorized into different categories and
differentiated on the basis of badges provided to them. The normal prisoners
wear a normal white badge. The ones who monitor the prison are awarded with
yellow badges. The ones with Violet/ Blue bands are the volunteers.
Red band is
awarded to the ones who have tried to escape. Also there is a provision for the
prisoners to work and earn on a daily basis based upon the category of work
whether it be skilled/ unskilled or new. The entire pay is credited at the end
of the month to the account linked with the inmate. Also, each inmate is being
allowed allowance of Rs. 4500/- from their family members.
Yerwada Jail is centre for rehabilitation rather than punishment. It resembles a
small village inhabiting 6000 people.
Inside the Prison
We were not allowed to taking anything inside the prison not even a penny. We
were only allowed to carry a notebook and pen with us.
Before entering the premises we were checked by the prison authorities. We
crossed two security posts in the administrative block itself. One at the entry
of the administrative block and other at the exit. The exit of the
administrative block led us to the inside of the prison premises.
When any person comes to meet his any relative in jail then firstly he/she take
the permission from the Jail authorities. All the officers very strictly did
their duty. They check every person who
enters in the gate. There are close circuit cameras to see all the activity in
the jail. This jail is very advance.
First we were taken to the Gandhi Era, where we were briefed about the national
movement and the time when our freedom fighters including Mahatma Gandhi,
Jawaharlal Nehru, Shubhash Chandra Bose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Etc were kept.
After that we were taken to the kitchen, where we found the prisoners working as
chefs. Also the diet chart for the prisoner was put at the entrance and a sample
of the meal given at that particular day was kept.
As it was Saturday the
library was closed as results of which we dint get the opportunity to visit the
library. We were then taken to the community center located in the prison
premises where we had an interaction with the Jail Superintendent. It was a very
interaction session followed by a lot of discussion. There was a particular
prisoner in the community centre handling the microphone system. During the
discussion even he told us how his perspective has changed over his years of
stay at the prison. After the session, we were taken to the Radio Station.
reach the Radio station, we had to cross a small barrack where the new prisoners
were seated. Most of them were in surrendered position. In the Radio Station, we
met the prisoner who had been operating the station since last 12 years. During
the interaction with him, he told us that the premises dint have any radio
frequency Infact the speakers in the barracks were directly linked through
The prisoner seemed to be a very learned man After the Radio Station we
were taken to the mulakat kaksh, the place where the prisoners were allowed to
meet their relatives or advocated. The incharge of the mulakat kaksh briefed was
about the timings and the rules of the place. After that we headed out of the
prison through the administrative block.
We had a great experience. It gave us a lot of idea about how a prison looks
like and a glimpse of life inside a prison. The prison had no network. It had
jammers throughout. Even the prison authorities contacted through wakie talkies.
We came out to know about the various activities which goes on inside a prison.
Also it made us know that the Prison is more of a centre for rehabilitation
rather than punishment.
The prison keeps on organizing courses which would be
beneficial to them once they are released. We were told that recently a house-
keeping course was organized in the prison, for which a certificate was given,
and this would easily fetch the job once they are out. The interaction with the
jail super indent made a lot of change in our perspective regarding the prison
authorities. In this jail there are many types of factories, in which the
prisoners work in the day time. The work in the jail has done by convicted and
under trial prisoners also. The products which are made by convicted, those
products sold in exhibitions, by the jail authority. These products are made on
the demand of merchants.
Issues of Prison Administration
Though a set of guideless has been set up by the prison manual and the Yerwada
prison adheres to it. There are certain problems faced by it.
The major issues
are as follows:
- Yerwada Jail has a capacity of 2500 prisoners but it is being being
occupied by around 6000 inmates.
- There is a shortage of personnel as compared with the number of
- There are fewer cells as compared to the number of prisoners. As a
result of which the cells are overcrowded leading to a deficiency of the
sleeping spaces during nights.
- The number of chefs is less but the number of prisoners consuming the
food is very high. Thereby lading to burden on few.
- The burden on Guarding staff is very high. As per the prison manual
there needs to be one guard for every 6 prisoners. But because of the high
number of prisoners, this criterion fails to meet.
- The burden on Medical Personnel is also very high. As per the prison
manual there needs to be one personnel for every 300 prisoners. But because
of the high number of prisoners, even this criterion fails to meet.
- The prison is faced with a lot of media criticizing which has led to
The number of prisoners in a single barrack should not be more than 20
prisoners. In case of any contagious disease, they should be kept in separate
rooms. And for those who are pursuing studies they should be kept in a single
room. During winters the prisoners should be provided with heating facility in
their barracks. Also, rules as to the barrack�s make is also given, wherein
ventilation, floor, verandahs, door size, as well as berth size is being
prescribed. It also specifies that in case of overcrowding of barrack, then such
excess prisoners should be shifted to another such institution.
Every prisoner needs to be provided a secure storage compartment to
hold their personal belongings.
There are rules for toilets size and also the ratio of prisoners to
that of the number of toilets to be constructed. As, per the current rules,
there needs to sufficient number of attached toilets in each barracks with usage
of it in the ratio of 10 per unit during the rest of the day and 6 per unit
during the morning hours. Also, a western toilet needs to be provided for every
2 toilets installed in the barracks. The same is specified for bathing places,
with a provision to insist on developing rain water harvesting for the same.
Work By the Prisoners
Every prisoner is allowed to labour 8 hour in a day from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Under trial prisoners can't work in prison. But under trial prisoners can do
work if they want to do work. Salary of the prisoners is fixed at rupess 61 for
the skilled and rupees 5 for non skilled.
The inmates have to prepare the food for the whole prison department and the
prisoners as well in this kitchen. Food for about 6000 people is prepared by the
inmates per meal. Based on the work done, health commission decides the nutrient
intake by the prisoners. A diet chart has been set out determing the amount of
food to be served. For example those who are convicted are to be served with 4
rotis whereas those under trial are to be served with 3
The prisoners are served
with 3 meals per day. After the meal is prepared, they are first checked by the
food inspector and then served. They are provided provided with a light meal for
breakfast followed by mid day and evening meals. The meals are never repeated,
i.e., the morning food is not served in the evening. The menu has different
meals for each day. Also in case of religious festivals, special food is cooked
and served to the prisoners. There is register maintained wherein the complains
regarding the foods served can be written.
There are provisions prescribing the clothes to be worn based on convicted
prisoners and under trial prisoners. The convicted prisoners are being provided
with bedding as well specified clothes as per the department. Whereas, in case
of under trial prisoners, they can access bedding and clothes upon an
application to the Jail Superintendent. And, in case of any visit to the court,
then they are to wear their private clothes, which are deposited by them at the
time of entry into the prison.
In order to maintain proper hygiene, prisoners
have been issued guidelines to wash their clothes once in a week, for which
washing materials are to be provided by the jail authorities. And, such clothes
which become irreparable, i.e. which becomes unfit to wear to be used as rags
for cleaning purposes, and should not be used for any other purpose and neither
should be used for other prisoners clothing.
Special emphasis needs to be given on the cleanliness of the jail premises. The
walls should either be painted or white washed from time to time and also
planting of trees should be emphasized in the jail premises. Along with it, the
toilets need to be cleaned twice or more as necessary with disinfectants.
In case of water supply, it should either be made via water supply provided by
Municipal Corporation or should be provided by through wells to serve the
purpose. In case of drawing through wells, then every week a test report should
be conducted and the test result should be recorded for the same. Also, clean
drinking water should be emphasized and provided upon by proper treatment as per
direction by Superintendent.
For, proper care of the prisoners, medical personnel are being appointed and
they are to assess the sick prisoners regularly, and also should have the
provision to visit the prison even on Sundays and holidays, if necessary. Proper
trainings and session are to be organized for drug addicts and also adherence to
fulfillment of special needs of aged prisoners should be met.
The prisoners are allowed to see and communicate with their family members,
relatives, friends and legal representative for the preparation of an appeal or
for procuring bail. In case of any interview by the prisoners, then a permission
from the Superintendent. And, for any interview purpose, the days and hours for
such must be fixed, and should not be allowed on any other day or time distinct
from the fixed time and day. And, normally the duration of it shall not extend
half an hour and could be extended upon the jurisdiction of Superintendent.
For imparting education, prisoners would be provided with library in the
premises, and also an option to pursue higher education through Open University
established in every prison. Though, education is important, but there is also
scope for skills development which would develop discipline, attitude as well as
help in physical and metal well being of the prisoners.
Prison follows a set of rules in order to meet the aim and the mission set by
it. Various development activities are also organized in the prison such as
theatre, cultural activiyies, sports etc. A legal aid cell has also been set up
for providing free legal services.Also prison panchayat has been set up inside
the prison for solving the internal conflicts. Various social workers help in
maintaining the relations of the prisoners with their families. Also there is an
annual good conduct review done on the basis of which the prisoners are awarded.
For example if someone saves someone's life or someone has worked a lot, they
will be given radiation. The prison works with the belief that No one can live
alone , hence they focus on social life a lot.
Yerwada Prison has a very good environment for rehabilitation. Out of 6000
prisoners, more than 5800 are claimed to be on the path on improving. The
prisoners are really very well behaved. Every prisoner is given occasional
training. Even the NGO's are called to help people. The main motive of the
prison is to bring about a change. In order to focus on the mental condition of
the prisoners, they are made to be actively involved in the day to day
functioning. Yerwada Prison has to a great extend always achieved the aims and
the visions set by it.