Puzhal to turn ashram of reform - The New Indian Express

Puzhal to turn ashram of reform

Published: 10th September 2012 08:54 AM

Last Updated: 10th September 2012 08:54 AM

Almost a year after he started experimenting with teaching prisoners meditation and set up a small ‘ashram’ inside the fortress that is the Puzhal prison, ADGP - Prisons S K Dogra is on expansion mode. By next week, a larger meditation facility will be in place.

Housed inside Puzhal - 2 (the wing for petty criminals and undertrial prisoners), the ‘ashram’ as the top cop fondly calls it will be able to house close to 200 inmates at a shot, thus taking the rehab programme to a different level. “This way we will be able to impart our rehabilitation measures to a larger number of convicts,” he says, adding that usually he notices a change within 10-15 days. Once the facility is up and running, a host of guest speakers and literary persons will be invited to address the ‘student’ inmates.

Styled along the lines of batches like in any college, inmates will have to undergo meditation through pranayama with Dogra and then classes for vocational training as well as attend sessions by external speakers.

He has ambitious plans for the State’s most-advanced prison facility. “I have a dream that we are working toward — by mid-October I hope people will be able to come into Puzhal without fear and see the vocational activities we are doing,” he says.

Coming only a week after the tenth undertrial prisoner died on the premises, Dogra reasons that all these rehab measures are aimed at reducing that deluge. “Over a period of time, the negative lifestyle of the criminals makes them prone to depression and gives them the feeling of leading useless lives. They are rejected by the members of their family. Many of them are not visited by anyone for months together and so they lose hope and move towards suicide,” explains Dogra.

“Another category prone to suicides is of those who commit offences of which they feel ashamed. One such case was of a young man who raped a girl child,” he adds.

Though prisons in Tamil Nadu have the dubious distinction of having recorded the highest number of unnatural deaths (suicides and killings) at 12 in 2010 — according to the NCRB digest on Prisons — Dogra believes that this alternative rehabilitation is the way forward. “I have found that it is the short-term prisoners who are more prone to suicide than the lifers. That is why I am looking to induct all the new inmates directly into the ashram for classes,” he reveals. Incidentally, it is not just the prisoners who are going to be ashram-schooled; even the jail staff are going to be enrolled. “We are now involving the prison staff more and more in the education of the prisoners. Many of the functions earlier performed by NGOs have been taken over by the prison staff. This brings about better bonding between prisoners and warders,” says Dogra.

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