Professional - Inspector General of Prisons

Children's Creche

Better days ahead for convicts' kids born inside Tihar
(Evening News, 4 October 1994)

By Sailendra Kumar

Four year old cherubic Chandni
is not an offender; she still lives the life of a convict. Reason, she was born in the women’s 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 Chandni’s 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 (Mithilesh’s) 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 ‘murderer’s children.’ 
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