Professional - Inspector General of Prisons


Godly approach to jail inmates
(The Pioneer, 25 March 1993)  

    After yoga, meditation, puppet shows and outdoor sports, it is now time for sermons in the Central Jail, Tihar here.
    The maximum security prison was virtually turned into and ashram on Monday with two sanyasis delivering religious discourses to inmates and in an attempt to inculcate spirituality and human values among the undertrials and convicts.
    ‘There is God inside me and you.  By prayers and recitation of  the name of God you can lessen your suffering and sorrows.’ Swami Jita Atamanand of the Ramakrishna Mission said amidst applause.
    ‘My guru taught me, hate the sin and not the sinner’ the Swami said exhorting his congregation to serve fellow beings as God resided in each one. The Swami  told the prisoners they were in jail because of their ‘karmas’.
    Nearly 1500 inmates of the jail, two hundred of them women converged for the sermons.
    ‘It was a breakthrough in the humane manner of jail administration, a new beginning for reforming the prisoners’ said Inspector General of Prisons (Delhi) Kiran Bedi, who had mooted the idea of organizing sermons in the jail.
    ‘The topic was the universal religion of humanism. No particular religion was discussed’ said Ms Bedi.
    Monday’s event had many firsts to its credit.
    It was the first time when sermons were organized in Tihar Jail.
    Male and female prisoners jointly congregated in the jail for  the first time.
    Press reporters were allowed for the first time deep inside Jail Number 1 to enable them to cover the function.
    Such discourses will become a regular feature from now onwards Ms Bedi said. Earlier this month she had introduced the novel concept of yoga and meditation in jail to alleviate stress and strain of the inmates while involving them in some constructive activity. Three yoga teachers trained 30 prisoners  who are now engaged in imparting further training to other prisoners. 
    The Tihar Jail houses more than 8000 prisoners as against its capacity of nearly one third this number. There has also been frequent reports of drug peddling and rampant corruption in the jail.     To improve the image of Tihar Jail the high profile IG (Prisons) has taken a series of important decisions to turn the jail into a reformatory.
    Outdoor sports like volleyball and badminton are being organized by the jail staff for the first time. But all this under their watchful eyes.
    Puppet shows have also been started since Sunday and are going to be a regular feature according to Ms Bedi. Besides the prisoners are also given an opportunity to watch televison and buy newpapers and magazines of their choice.
    But there is no plan to introduce cable or satelllite television in the jail ‘as there is an overdose of sex and violence’ explained an official.
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