HYDERABAD: As election fever grips the country, Telangana, in a novel initiative, has launched a dedicated radio channel for its prisoners in the last few days. The primary focus of the channel is to create voter awareness among prison inmates.
The initiative, aimed at raising awareness, also looks to providing entertainment and enabling reformation among prisoners. Interestingly, the inmates of Telangana prisons have, in fact, no option but to listen to the channel from 7 am to 12 noon and 3 pm to 4 pm as it would be played across the barracks using loud speakers. While fifty per cent of the content would focus on entertainment, the rest would be about initiatives in prisons, and announcements.
Reportedly, a team of inmates would perform the role of in-house Radio Jockeys. The channel would be available in three prisons across State, namely, Chanchalguda, Cherlapally and Warangal, said VK Singh, director general of prisons and correctional services.
As of now, the prison radio is abuzz with regular announcements urging prisoners to exercise their voting rights in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. Over 300 detenues are eligible to cast their votes. The move follows the recent ECI circular issued to the chief secretaries of all States and Union Territories, directing them to provide persons subjected to preventive detention with postal ballot papers.
“We have launched the radio service in Warangal Prison on Friday. Through this, we urge detenues to exercise their voting rights. The announcements on the radio have already begun in Chanchalguda Central Prison and in a week’s time it will take off in the Cherlapally Central Prison as well,” VK Singh told Express.
The 336 detenues, as of today, will cast their votes using postal ballot papers. “Once a detenue agrees to utilise his/her franchise, they will have to provide us with their EPIC number and the constituency they belong to. We will then write to the Returning Officer of the respective constituency and ensure that the paper ballot reaches the detenue,” said B Saidaiah, DIG of Hyderabad Range.
The provision has been made as per the sub-section (5) of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 which confers voting rights to those confined in preventive detention. During the recently concluded Telangana Assembly elections, there were less than 10 persons who utilised this right, officials said.