THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: His whole life is dedicated to the service of mankind. Though popularly known as 'Jail Bappu,' he has no criminal record. He is called so because of his close association with the Kozhikode District Jail, through his noble deeds. Muhammed Koya, alias Bappu Hajee, as he is fondly called, has been serving prisoners in the jail for the past 20 years by providing them with food and other basic amenities.
Bappu is a straightforward character, with a million dollar smile on his face.
Clad head to toe in white, that includes accessories too, the purity of his personality is brightened up. In spite of being 73- years-old and having undergone three bypass surgeries, the intensity of his zest and enthusiasm has not faded.
His association with the jail has its roots in an incident that happened 20 years ago. One of his distinct relatives was deceived and jailed. He stepped into the jail for the first time to meet that relative. During his visit, his heart was shaken by the pitiable condition of the prisoners there.
“Society had condemned them as sinners. But I have a question to ask. Is there anyone in this world who hasn't committed any sin? Unfortunately, the crimes done by these people have been exposed to the public. But it doesn't mean that we have to stop considering them as human beings and stamp them as sinners, denying them all rights,” says Bappu.
He believes that any great sinner should be forgiven and given a chance to mend his ways. If God can, why can't we?
He is confident that if we show some consideration and love to the ones behind the bars, they will for sure repent and come back to normal life.
It is this credence that prompted him to initiate a project providing help, rehabilitation and counselling to prisoners. “Counselling is the perfect method to make them realise their mistakes and bring them back to life. Constant counselling is provided to give them mental strength and to develop a sense of righteousness in them,” adds Bappu.
Prayers are being conducted continuously every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the jail for prisoners belonging to every religion to instill good thoughts in them. Food is also provided. He takes immense care to get good quality food for them.
The funds are allocated through a committee called the Jilla Jail Jumayat Committee. Three of the active members of the committee are Rasheed, who is called Rasheed Engineer, Fasal Rahaman and Abdul Rasheed.
As Bappu says, “Nobody will deny help if we beg for it and I don't mind begging for them because I have seen the goodness in the heart of the ones in the jail.”
Almost 500 prisoners find solace in this virtuous action of his. A lot of positive changes are evident in them through this. Most of them have come back to life by repenting for their wrongdoings. Besides his deeds inside the jail, he also helps mentally unstable people by providing them with food, clothes and giving them bath. He also helps the blind by getting them free consultation and giving financial support for surgeries.
“First of all I thank God almighty for helping me to continue with this endeavour and all the gracious souls who have supported me, especially the jail superintendents. I also thank those people who have criticised me, as their criticisms have been an encouragement to continue with my activities,“ says Bappu.
Requesting the 'Express' photographer not to click any photograph of his, he speaks about the difficulties he has to put up with during his initial years of service. Major difficulties came in the form of accusations. Many people questioned his sincerity. It was with support from compassionate personalities, whom he does not wish to mention, that he is still able to go on.
“My only wish is that this service has to continue even after my death. If my financial status improves, I have plans of building a house to shelter helpless souls, especially women and children.
I am also ready to help the convicts by providing them with small employment opportunities after their release, but unfortunately no one has turned up so far,” adds Bappu. Presently, due to his illness he is not able to visit the jail, but there are volunteers who efficiently take care of the activities in the jail.