An intellectual endeavour for jailbirds

An intellectual endeavour for jailbirds

All those who are under the impression that under-trial prisoners in Bihar are biding time awaiting their sentences need to perish the thought. For, these jailbirds have embarked on a creative mission and intend to pen the story of their trials and tribulations.

The move has begun at the high-security Beur Jail in Patna where the inmates have been asked to write their side of the story. Those who are unable to pen their thoughts have been asked to either become literate or use the services of their other educated co-prisoners in the jail. Their writings will then be edited and eventually compiled into a magazine named Drishtikone.

The first issue of Drishtikone (opinion) is slated to be released in mid-January 2010.  The brainchild of a jailor at the Beur prison Daniel Dinesh Mitra, the move aims to rope in such hardcore criminals who have been charged with loot, dacoity and even killing. These dreaded criminals were initially convinced that such writing assignments would help them to re-discover hope. ‘‘The journalistic venture is part of the jail administration's ongoing campaign to improve the prisoners' mindset. After the Beur jail inmates agreed to write out their real-life story, we have asked other under-trials in various other jails in Bihar to follow suit and submit reports, news/write-ups," Mitra told Deccan Herald. ‘‘Those who want to write about some other government schemes, or good work done by them, or their constructive activity in prisons, are free to do so," added the jailor, who faces the arduous task of compiling and editing the raw copy.

Forthcoming magazine

The Superintendent of the Prison Om Prakash Gupta has been appointed the editor of the forthcoming magazine, while two trainee superintendents have are going to be the news editors, of the publication which would be published at the Central Prison, Bhagalpur, 300 kms from here.

The administration of the Beur Jail would take care of the management and circulation of Drishtikone. "We also want to circulate copies of the magazine to every jail in the country," Mitra added.

Besides writing assignments, these prisoners have also been asked to attend yoga classes, apart from attending training programmes on drawing and painting. "We are trying to keep these prisoners busy as it would help to improve their mindset," said the jailor. All this happened after the IG (Prisons) initiated jail reforms and asked one the inmates Ajay Kumar Jha, a techno-savvy prisoner, to impart computer education to his fellow prisoners. The proposal initially evoked a lukewarm response. But after the jail administration installed four computers and provided a separate room where prisoners interested could develop their technical skills, 21 of them became computer savvy. They later appeared in an examination conducted by the Nalanda Open University.

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