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Millennium Post

Behind the walls of Tihar

The out flow of information from the biggest jail in Asian continent, Tihar, is being taken as a pleasant wind of air. People have started looking forward to know about the activities happening inside the prison complex.  

Tihar comprises of nine central prisons and the number of inmates is over 12,000 against a capacity of 6,200. The present occupancy is around 194 per cent. There are around 74 per cent male and 23 per cent female inmates including 400 foreigners. While making state wise classification one may find 74 per cent from Delhi alone, 24 per cent from the states of UP, Haryana, Bihar and Rajasthan. The maximum number of inmates are in the age group of 21 to 30.

The capital city had a small jail near Delhi Gate prior to 1958 when a new jail at Tihar village was made functional in a sleepy and dusty locality. Till 1966 it was under the administrative control of the Punjab government when it was handed over to the then Delhi Administration.
Today many congested colonies have come up around the prison and the residents of these colonies feel elated to hear the morning prayers by the inmates.

The residents of Hari Nagar and Janak Puri have learned songs like, itni shakti hamein de na data, mann ka vishwas kamzor ho na, and ae maalik tere bande hum ‘by heart as these songs are an integral part of the prayers. This is one of the reasons to describe the jail as an ashram.

Many inmates call Tihar as the birth place of Lord Krishna. In other words, a temple.

Political activists treat their stay inside the jail as a yatra to be politicised later.

The high-tech jail is well equipped with the latest security and surveillance gadgets, as claimed by the authorities.

Some famous personalities like Suresh Kalmadi, A Raja, Kanimozi, Amar Singh, Chautalas, Anna Hazare and others had to spend their days in the complex of the so-called jail. The jail must have witnessed a battery of VIPs spending their so-called wasteful days in the jail premises.

The jails are supposed to ensure a safe and secure custody of inmates inside the prison, provide basic minimum facilities to maintain their human dignity and offer opportunities to reform and rehabilitate. The excesses inside the jail once highlighted outside create an unpleasant situation for the authorities apart from becoming an issue before the human rights’ groups.The civilised democratic governments would like to avoid such unpleasant situations. Keeping aside such incidences, Tihar has been able to ensure the enforcement of the jail manual. It has gone further in the direction of presenting a rosy picture by introducing certain unprecedented steps.

During the last few years, the media got various opportunities of reporting right from the heart of Tihar. It has turned out to be a big business house with an annual turnover of more than Rs 11 crore.

The ‘Tihar’ trademark has earned a special place in the hearts of the consumers. Tihar bakery products under the brand name TJ’s sell various items like spices,  papads and  namkeens. They have set up a unique benchmark as far as the quality is concerned. The products are now available at various malls as well.

This highlights the art of making the best by the inmates. It is also important to note that the apparel’s prepared by the inmates are being adorned by the models during fashion shows inside the jail. The inmates gather courage to walk on the ramp showcasing their self-designed apparels. The colours and gaiety attracted the judges. One may notice a footwear academy inside the jail and products like carpets and Italian laces are weaved by the women inmates. The laces have a big market in the European countries. The beautiful designer shirts find place in a number of reputed stores.

Tihar also boasts of having Vipasana meditation centre, yoga centre, art classes, legal aid centre, adult education centre, pottery unit, dance classes, sports activities and various cultural hubs. It has successfully hosted Tihar Olympics for the inmates, a Twenty-twenty cricket tournament joined by Manu Sharma, a convict in Jessica Lal case and Santosh Singh, a convict in Priyadarshani Matoo case.

The jail also conducts inter-jail sports competitions and lately it has been inviting famous artistes from all across the country to perform. The jail is also able to fetch thousands of rupees by selling paintings made by the inmates in its annual exhibition. There is no end to the kind of changes taking place in the jail. The day is not far when a part of the jail would become a permanent exhibition of the varied activities to be watched by the visitors.

Satpal is a communication consultant
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