September 2, 2021 2:14:45 am
“An inmate should be kept in jail for as long as it’s needed for the safety of society and their own correction. Beyond that, they should not be kept in jail even for a second,” said Mahatma Gandhi.
Weaving a fascinating account of the history of jails in Gujarat that were initially built as a tool of oppression by the British Raj to its post-Independence evolution as a correctional facility for inmates, the Gujarat government’s Prisons and Correctional Administration has come up with a book — “Jail- History and Present”. It was authored under the leadership of Dr KLN Rao, ADGP and Director General of Prisons and Correctional Administration.
The 140-page book released by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in Gandhinagar on Tuesday offers a rare glimpse into the world of prisons in the state and elsewhere in the country.
“This book is to shatter many misconceptions regarding jails and offer a glimpse into the lives of inmates,” said Rao.
The book offers readers a chance to understand the need for prisons in pre-British, British and post-Independence eras and how the system in jails changed from “punishment and torture” to “correction and a chance to repent”.
The book opens with the history of Gujarat’s most popular jail — the Sabarmati Central Prison. The book states that in the pre-British era, the Ahmedabad city had two jails — one in Azam Khan No Mahal in Bhadra area, which is the centre of the city, and the other in Dhuliakot, which is in city’s west.
After the British Raj was established in 1818, the inmates in the two jails were treated in an inhuman manner as they were not allowed to cut their hair, shave beard, wash clothes or take bath. They were served food, made to sleep and release themselves in the same cell. The book states that corrective measures were included in these jails only in 1854.
After the great revolt of 1857, book states that the British made jails as a tool for suppressing freedom fighters and came up with the plan to open central jails in Bombay, Delhi, Pune and Ahmedabad. The idea behind setting up of the central jail in the Sabarmati area in 1895 was its proximity to the Sabarmati Railway Station as the British officers wanted to transfer freedom fighters to the jail as soon as they arrived by trains.
Apart from the Sabarmati Central Jail, the book also mentions jails in Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Porbandar, Palanpur, Junagadh and Gondal stating their historical significance and current facilities. The book also mentions the architectural beauty of the Vadodara Central Jail that was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad in 1880 where the structure is built in clock shape, with a single watch tower in the centre of 12 wards.
The book also throws light on the daily routine of the inmates in Gujarat prisons at present and their activities. The book also explains about the classification of inmates — convicted and under trial — and who are eligible to work in “open jails” as farmers and dairy runners.
“The book is available for Rs 200 in Gujarati language and soon, we will be releasing its English as well. It will be available at the Jail Bhawan building near Sabarmati Central Prison,” added Dr Rao.
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