PERAMBALUR: Manikandan is a telling example of how punishments help reform people. Convicted for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, the time spent behind bars made Manikandan realise the value of freedom and that changed him.
A resident of Utkottai near Jayankondam, K Manikandan murdered a person who allegedly sexually assaulted his mother in 2001. He was arrested five months into marriage and sentenced in 2003.
He was released, having spent 15 years in jail, for good behaviour as part of MGR’s birth anniversary celebrations on September 3, 2018. He makes a living selling aloe vera (Sotru Katraalai) juice in Perambalur, and settled at Melamathur in Alathur.
Manikandan, now 49, said, “Within months of my marriage, I was unable to live with my wife. When I was in jail, my wife and sons were staying in a private home (Kaapagam) in Sriperumbudur.”
He has two sons - Vignesh (18) and Jagadeesh (17) - and a daughter, Ganga (1) “While I was in jail, my parents passed away due to ill health. I was released about a year ago when my baby girl was born. The timing of her birth was a good sign for my family. While I was in jail, I got a BA degree in social work from Tamil Nadu Open University” Manikandan said. He studied till Class 10 and used to help his family with Siddha medicine in Utkottai.
Out of jail, Manikandan found it difficult to secure a job because of his background. “After I got out of jail, I went to work in several places, but everyone saw me as a criminal, so I could not hold jobs for long.”
The probation officer came to Manikandan’s rescue and arranged loan of `15,000 from a SHG in Perambalur with which he opened a juice shop.
“I am now running this shop after getting a loan from an SHG. I am living happily with my wife and children. I know these natural remedies because I had worked with the Siddha system. My life has been bitter, so I offer aloe vera juice, which is sweet. Everyone must think before committing a mistake,” said Manikandan.