Parappana Agrahara spins a modern-day Shantaram classic

Theirs is a tale that could be spun into a modern day surefire Bollywood movie. Their saga virtually reminiscent of yesteryear V Shantaram’s 1957 classic ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’.  

Incarcerated for life at the Central Prison, Parappana Agrahara, the foursome — Palani, Siddesh, Devaraj and Sudhakar, however, did not let their past blight their doughty determination to infuse a new meaning into their otherwise dismal, diurnal present. 

The beacon behind their rehabilitative transformation, like Shantaram’s young jail warden Adinath, is Satish Kumar Gupta, former human resource staffer of Infosys, who too shares similar fate of his fellow inmates. 

The singular achievement of the quartet, who, having burned the midnight oil and toiled through some tough, trying times, to turn neo-literates with an MBA degree through distance education. 

If Gupta found himself behind bars for hacking wife Priyanka Gupta, a teacher with City’s Delhi Public School, to death, his successful students’ squalid stories are no different. Siddesh, a native of Davangere, is a BCom and also a Master’s in journalism. He was imprisoned for life nine years ago.  

Devaraj and Sudhakar, both hailing from Hassan, were sentenced 12 and 13 years ago respectively. Palani, a native of Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu, a BSc graduate, too joined their company, 13 years ago. 

Despite the disparate circumstances that saw them in prison, they were all united with a common cause of bettering their claustrophobic and depressive existence by pursuing distance education.  

Thanks to the prison officer, Satish Gupta, who twice attempted suicide to rid himself of the miserable existence, found meaning when tasked to tutor and train the four as they pursued the MBA 

programme offered by the Karnataka State Open University. “We allowed a room underground at Barrack No 1 and ensured all teaching aids were provided to Gupta so that he trains the four,” the officer said. 

Gupta, who then on spent three hours to prepare and five hours to teach and train the four, waling them through the nitty-gritty of successfully facing the exam, said, “I taught them to master corporate culture, etiquettes and skills so that they get some offers as I am confident they would soon be out based on good conduct.” 

Forty-six other prisoners are pursuing various programmes offered by KSOU.

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