''Prisoners band'' Marches to the Beat on Republic Day
It was a momentous day for 13-prisoners in Himachal Pradesh who became a part of "prisoners band" to participate in the Republic Day parade at Shimla and marched to the tunes of 'Sare Jahan se Accha Hindustan Hamara' at historic Ridge Maidan here Sunday.
Led by Ram Krishan, a murder convict, these prisoners from Kanda Jail, Shimla and central Jail, Nahan created a history of sorts by joining the march-past before the Governor Urmilla Singh who was the chief guest at the state level function.
Clad in impeccable white dress with striped band on the wrist, the prisoners, said they never thought even in their dreams that they would get such an honour during their life time.
It was a proud moment for the prisoners who not only got an opportunity to come out from the jail but also got a rare chance to showcase their skills, said Veer Singh, a prisoner.
"One mistake in life can turn everything topsy-turvy but learning music and playing band while undergoing imprisonment has changed our life and outlook and our urge to reform has sharpened", said Ram Singh, another inmate.
"My initial years in jail were quite perturbing. But when I got a chance to play music, I got an opportunity to live and think in a different way," said another convict Labh Singh.
Additional director general of police (ADGP), Sita Ram Mardi said that it was for the first time in the history of the country that "reformed prisoners" have taken part in Republic Day parade.
Mardi said an orchestra band had been set up by the prison department at Nahan and the prisoners are allowed to go outside the jail for performances and earn some money.
The band can be hired for functions like weddings,he said.
"The band members went through rigorous practice and rehearsal and till the last minute we were apprehensive about their selection but finally they were in and today their dream has come true", Mardi added.
Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh, ministers, MLAs, Mayor and deputy Mayor of Municipal Corporation, dignitaries? civil and military officers were present on the occasion.