news Monday, April 27, 2015 - 05:30

The 219-year old Medak district prison in Sangareddy is not what one would define as a tourist spot. Tall stone walls lined with barbed wire and watch towers and a passageway for guards to patrol are a common sight. But the structure has now been renovated and turned into the country’s third prison museum, after the Dagshai Jail Museum in Chandigarh and the Cellular Jail in the Andamans

The prison which was built in 1796 by the then Nizam’s government is spread over three acres and was used till 2012, after which a new jail was constructed in Kandi village and the inmates were shifted there.

Speaking to The News Minute about the origins of the prison museum, Telangana Director General (Prisons) VK Singh says “The jail was abandoned after 2012 and taking into account the importance of history and heritage, we converted it into a museum.”

The prison was originally a cavalry barrack used by the Nizams. The department has also identified the remains of a treasury next to the jail museum and the items recovered will also be placed in the museum for public viewing.

“We are a new state and we should be proud of our heritage. This jail is a part of our history and I wanted people to come and experience the raw feel of a jail. This could also promote tourism and boost the development of the area where the jail is situated,” Singh says.

Another unique feature of the museum is that it would be manned by open air prisoners, ie those who require minimal supervision, who will be allotted for each room and at the ticket counter.

“Eighty percent of prisoners in the state are unemployed and a majority of them are from the poorer sections of society. This museum will give a chance to open air prisoners to contribute to society and feel good about earning their own income,” says Singh.

Singh estimates that the museum could be manned by around 30 prisoners along with the jail officer as the curator of the museum. The museum will also sell items made by prisoners to generate revenue. 

“There is a need for prisoners to be included into the public sphere and not isolate them. At least the open air prisoners should be useful to society in some way or the other and this is one such opportunity,” Singh says.

The museum also traces the history of the state from the Nizam period and the British colonial rule and even includes the 1969 Telangana struggle, when a number of prominent figures like Chola Lingaiah, Datti Kistaiah and Etla Guruva Reddy were jailed here.

Talking about the cost of renovation, Singh says, “We spent around 30 lakhs as of now. It is peanuts but we should be thankful that the structure remained intact and there was only internal work to be done.”

The museum, according to Singh, is ready to be inaugurated. “I have written to the chief minister to inaugurate it as it will gain more attention that way and urge more people to visit the place but if the chief minister is busy, so we will get the home minister to inaugurate it,” he says.  

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