Jail birds after all have art

Creations from Tihar

jaArtefacts made by the prisoners of Tihar jail. dh photoThe person at the stall then tells them that the piece and many other products on display were indeed made by a person serving a jail sentence at Tihar, and a part of the proceeds from the sale will go to the inmate, who has made them.

The products include beautiful paintings, readymade garments like kurtis, tops, blouses –– all complete with chamkis and zardosi works, veils, shirts, terracota and other artificial jewellery. All the products have a tag with the name of the creator, making it easier to identify the person so that they get their share.

Mention Tihar Jail and images of notorious leaders, and their infamous scandals that created ripples across the country, come to mind. But what’s never highlighted is the percentage of prisoners who undergo real transformation and lead a normal life after their prison term.

Thanks to the efforts of NGOs, the work done by volunteers in bringing about a mindset change in the inmates has borne results and the products on display are a testimony to it.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Neeru Arya, General Secretary of the NGO Armaan, said with proper counselling and introduction of a lot of vocational courses for the inmates, they have been able to successfully rehabilitate at least 50 per cent of the inmates.

The organisation, with the help of the Department for Women and Child Development, has been conducting various courses at Tihar jail for the past 10 years. Apart from Tihar jail, they have conducted such courses in 46 jails across the country and also at Mauritius, Dubai and the US.

Neeru said they had introduced a computer hardware and maintenance course in the jail and were amazed to find the inmates assembling a computer in just an hour. For women inmates, they have been conducting classes in making candles and pickles. Currently, 34 reformed prisoners are totally rehabilitated and are into making products with the raw materials supplied by the organisation.

Kani ain’t making candles yet

Though there were reports that Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi had shown interest in making candles at Tihar Jail, Neeru clarified that she was confined to her cell, mostly reading books. “She did not participate in any of our training sessions on candle-making and I’m not sure if she ever learnt the art. However, she did appreciate the jewellery creations by others,” she said.

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