Janasadbhawana, a Bangalore-based NGO, has been striving to reform small-time offenders languishing in jails, get them out legally and rehabilitate them, writes Sudha Narasimhachar
“As I was driving down from Kolar to Bangalore one night along with a friend, I suddenly heard a woman screaming for help from a lonely farm house. I could just not ignore the call and drive away, so I walked into the house.
The family was caught unawares by my sudden entry and the woman came running to me and started relating what was happening. My presence of mind helped me record all that the woman was saying. Later, the woman, who herself was a doctor, and her child were saved from the woman’s doctor-husband who wanted to kill the girl child and remarry,” says Faiz Akram Pasha, the founder secretary of an organisation called Janasadbhawana, a small NGO born out of the inspiration that Faiz got from the ex-DIG (Prisons) late B S Abbai in 2006.
In fact, the name of the organisation was also suggested by Abbai. He also guided the members on how to make a difference to many lives.
Range of activities
This is just a sample of the numerous activities that Janasadbhawana has taken up so far. “I have a record of nearly 7,000 activities that we have so far undertaken,” says Faiz. This is a very different kind of NGO, which works to reform small-time offenders languishing in jails, get them out legally and rehabilitate them, thus enabling them to lead normal lives and join the mainstream.
There are many people who are wrongfully detained or detained in jails for unreasonably long periods for petty crimes like picking pockets or snatching chains. There are many chances that such small-time offenders or innocent inmates become habitual criminals because of the influence of other such habitual criminals in prisons or mainstream society and families’ refusal to accept them.
The organisation’s intention is to see that such inmates, especially the youth, are steered in the right direction and offered advice so that they are able to lead normal lives once they come out. So far, 320 such people have been helped, many of whom now work as volunteers of the organisation.
“We conduct motivational camps using the services of spiritual leaders belonging to all religions for the inmates. We assist youth who want to pursue studies in Open Universities, by meeting their expenses and lending other services as per their request. We take legal assistance and try to free the youth who are either in jails for no fault of theirs or are languishing there for longer periods than they were supposed to, as per law,” says Faiz.
Though jails are the main area of their operation with Faiz choosing to live very close to Bangalore Central Jail in Parappana Agrahara, Janasadbhawana does much more than that. Whenever any of its volunteers witness any sort of social injustice or crime, they do not turn their face and walk away. They go full out, help the victims and get the perpetrators punished.
“A person whom we had freed from jail and rehabilitated as a fruit vendor, joined us as a volunteer and narrated to us a very touching story, because of which we could save four minor children (siblings) from the hands of heartless goons who had kidnapped them and were raping them for almost two years in a dungeon,” says Faiz.
This is not all. Janasadbhawana also keeps a watch on the police authorities with whom they work continuously and if they come to know of any case of corruption or high-handedness, they ensure that such black sheep are brought to book and punished.
Faiz and his team mates have earned the trust and respect of all the top police officials and hence they get the full cooperation of the police department to undertake all their activities.
Source of inspiration
What inspired Faiz? “My father is my greatest inspiration. He was a social activist. He was a silk merchant and lost a lot in his business. In spite of that, he did not stop being useful to society. Though he had eight children, he did not think twice about adopting the daughter of a poor fruit vendor, who died orphaning the child. He had once saved an entire family of seven members, who were on the verge of ending their lives due to severe poverty and helped them start a new life. He always advises us that religion is a personal matter and should be practised within the four walls of the house but once we are out, we are all human beings.”
The organisation creates awareness among the families of the jail inmates, many of whom desert the inmates in course of time and try to reunite the inmates with the families once they are released.
The children of inmates who are in hostels are brought to the jails once in a while to meet their parents. Emergency paroles are arranged for inmates who require to attend funerals/weddings/sick relatives and the inmates escorted to their homes or hospitals and brought back to prisons safely.
The security deposit for this purpose is borne by the organisation. So far, 112 such cases have been assisted. Funeral rights of unclaimed bodies of 87 inmates have been performed by the organisation as per the religious faith of the concerned inmates. Janasadbhawana has also helped a few inmates get married (one couple out of these were HIV positive).
With respect to dowry cases, all the members of the family are counselled and there are instances where the families unite after release and lead happy lives. Twenty eight girls have been saved from human trafficking and sent back to their families.
“After the recent incident of North Easterners rushing back to their home-state on account of some SMS alerts, we felt the need to bring awareness among the youth about the seriousness of their small acts, which may land them in jail for years or sometimes life. We met the youngsters who have been arrested in this case and realised that they had done something so playfully without realising the repercussions. Hence, we are planning to conduct awareness camps about the various CPC Sections among the youth and general public.”
There is no end to Faiz’s enthusiasm. Human trafficking, domestic violence, petty crimes, child labour; you name it and Faiz has a story to tell you about it. He says there is a lot to be done in society if his dream of making Karnataka a safe and crime-free State has to come true. Inspired by his work, the Vellore Jail in Tamil Nadu and the Howrah jail in West Bengal have also set up teams of volunteers of Janasadbhawana and are working for the welfare of jail inmates.
His wife also supports him and helps him by counselling female inmates in jail. He has three children and like his father, he has adopted a baby girl, who was severely maimed and dumped in a dustbin. The girl is handicapped because of the injuries.
“She is the angel of our family and I am trying to get her treated,” says Faiz. What about the funds? Faiz is a real estate agent and so far the organisation is run only with the funds of the members, many of whom are daily wage earners, small vendors and the like.