Spending time behind bars in a dark prison cell, wearing a colourless jail uniform and having modest food there, will surely be a nightmare for all.
But, that frightening dream may become a tourist attraction in Kerala soon, if everything goes as planned. The State Prison Department is actively considering a proposal to open portals of one of its central jails for common people to spend a day and night there to get the ‘feel’ of jail life by charging a fee.
The ‘pay and stay’ initiative is planned as part of a unique prison museum coming up in the premises of Viyyur Central prison in Thrissur district.
If the proposal gets the government nod, interested people can come and stay for 24 hours at a separate enclosure as part of the prison museum at the jail campus. Prison food would also be served to them, jail department sources said.
“We have submitted a set of detailed proposals to the government as part of the Prison Museum project. The stay inside the jail premises is also one among them,” Jail DGP R Sreelekha told PTI.
Further details in this regard can be divulged only after getting the government sanction, she said. However, the senior-most woman IPS officer said the proposed ‘Prison Museum’ would be the first-of-its-kind in the state.
“The Planning Board has accorded sanction for the Prison Museum project and allotted Rs three crore as the first instalment for the period 2018-19,” she said. Rare and antique prison related objects and records, now stashed in various jails across the state, would be displayed at the museum, she said.
“There are a total of 54 prisons across the state. During my visits there, I have come across several objects of antique and historic value. They will be showcased at the upcoming museum,” Sreelekha said.
Superintendent of Viyyur Central Jail, M K Vinod Kumar said the museum complex is planned as a sprawling facility with various features including exhibition area, special enclosures for people to stay, library, cafeteria and light and sound show.
“As per the plan, interested persons can book for one day stay in the special enclosures where they will get everything from jail uniform to food to have the real feel of the prison life,” he told PTI.
A Chennai-based architect was entrusted with the designing of the complex, while state-based Nirmithi Kendra would be doing the construction.
It is a Rs six crore project of which Rs three crore had already been sanctioned, the officer added. Another senior officer of Viyyur Central Prison said the exhibits would include British and royal era records, torture equipment, armaments, handcuff models and so on.
“Uniform models of British police personnel and rare prison photographs will also be included. A naadan thattkada (ethnic cafeteria) is also under plans as part of the museum where the public can come and feast jail delicacies,” he told PTI.
The officer also said the ‘jail tourism’ project would be a novel experience for common people to have a ‘real feel’ of the prison life if it gets implemented. While Kerala is considering the proposal, it has a befitting model in Telangana to follow in terms of the ‘jail tourism’ project.
A 220-year-old central jail in Telangana is already offering tourists an opportunity to have a first-hand experience of prison life by paying a fee of Rs 500 for a day’s stay.
The colonial era District Central Jail at Sangareddy recently converted into a museum, offers a 24-hour confinement under the programme, “Feel the Jail”, launched by the Prisons Department for people who want to spend time behind the bars and experience the feeling of being under detention.
During the stay, the “inmates” are provided with a prison uniform made of khadi, a steel meal plate and glass, a mug beside washing soap, bathing soap, bedding and other facilities as per state prison manual, in addition to a fan.
The District Central jail at Sangareddy was constructed during the Prime Ministership of Salar Jung-I in 1796 during Nizam rule in the princely state of Hyderabad.