|Four year old
is not an offender; she still lives the life of a convict. Reason, she was born in the
womens cell of Tihar jail. There are eight such little ones who share her fate and are thus
convicted by birth.
Besides them, there are 52 more small children who have
been incarcerated along with their mothers as many are too small to be deprived of motherly love
and, some of them have nobody back home to look after them.
But, for the radically changed jail management ever since
Magsaysay award winner Kiran Bedi has taken over, a few voluntary organizations have chipped in to
take care of these children and their mothers. Sushum Lata, a counselor of Mahila Pratiraksha
Mandal which runs a crèche there said that the only animal these children had seen in the jail
was a cat. And when they were taken to the zoo, she pointed out they ran after caged bear shouting
Oh, such a big cat!
| In the last one year these children have been exposed to the outside world several
times. They have now learnt to sing songs, poems and recognize animals and vegetables. When a
visitor steps into their crèche they immediately greet her Namaste aunty (male
visitors are usually not allowed inside).
Says Chandnis mother Shabnam who has been given
life imprisonment in a murder case, I am very happy for Chandni who is fortunate enough to
get so good an upbringing.
But these children are not kept in Tihar for more than
five years. As soon as they become eligible for formal education they are sent to Delhi Government
run Homes. Assistant Superintendent Meena Looker said that they have so far sent 16
children to the Kirti Nagar Home.
What about those who were not fortunate enough to join
their mothers in the jail and have nobody to look after them. Tears rolling down her checks
Mithilesh Devi who has been an undertrial in a murder case for four years, said, Mere do
bachche hain. Unko dekhane wala koi nahi hain, baap to kabhi ka mar gaya (I have two children,
who have nobody to look after them, their father died long back).
Ms Looker said that her (Mithileshs) children,
Ashok Kumar and Manoj Kumar were living deep in misery. Often they spent their nights without
food. On top of it, when they went to their neighbors for help they were taunted as