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Goa's 17th-century Aguada Fort prison building to soon house statues of leading freedom fighters

Presently under refurbishment, the Aguada Fort prison building is one of the oldest buildings of its kind in Goa .

A token of Goa's Portuguese heritage and one of the oldest prison buildings here, the 17th-century Aguada Fort will soon feature the statues of leading freedom fighters, stated the Chief Minister of Thursday. Presently under refurbishment, the upgraded structure will house the icons of leaders such as Ram Manohar Lohia and the father of Goa nationalism, T.B Cunha. The honour has been bestowed in the light of the incarceration of these popular figures in this prison complex, added the CM.

The heritage of Aguada Fort

Built on the principles of the Portuguese school of architecture, the Aguada Fort was initially founded by the colonists to serve as a coastal sentinel to guard against the roving Dutch and Maratha navies. It also doubled up as a water refilling station for passing ships until it was converted by the colonial administration into a high-security prison.

The building then went on to serve as a central jail after the liberation of Goa. The tag was revoked only when a modern prison facility came up at Colvale Village in North Goa. Aguada Fort's fate then took a turn towards the commercial scape of the state; part of the prison complex was leased out to a five-star hotel group decades ago. Now, it stands as a popular tourist space given its 'Dil Chahta Hai' fame among travellers of all ages.

The round of new development

As per the plans of the Goa administration, freedom fighters who were incarcerated in the prison complex, including Ram Manohar Lohia and T.B Cunha, are to be honoured by positioning their statues on the prison premises. While Lohia was born in Uttar Pradesh, the socialist leader is considered to be a significant icon in Goa's freedom struggle.

It was his clarion call for freedom of the former Portuguese colony on June 18, 1946, that injected urgency and impetus to Goa's struggle for independence after more than 4 centuries of foreign rule. Cunha, the local leader, led the struggle from the front lines and is thus, worthy of renown as well. Once the renovation is complete, the former prison complex is expected to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister later this year, read reports.

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