Pictures by Sandeep
District Jail, Amphala is illuminating lives inside the jails by making the prisoners work for cause. The residents are involved in activities like candle making which further helps them to grow and evolve into better beings.
They start the work around 10 days prior to the festival which is distributed to numerous stalls citywide. “So far we have provided candles of about 80000 rupees to numerous areas in the city” told an offcial. “Candle is a symbol of hope, enlightenment and the main motive behind the project Roshni is to bring light in their lives. We give them a platform to learn and grow and give them a message to live their lives like those candles, shining and fading away the darkness of their past. This learning can further be developed as their income source when they step out of the jail, this can easily be taken as a small scale business to serve their future and family” he added. The authority looks for restorative steps to reform their lives. They are provided wages and this project is carried on with revenue targets so as they can live well after they have completed their stay. So far 10 lakhs have been collected from this business, he further told.
They put their sincerity and dedication along with their hard work and the buyers can easily see their dedication in the products. The quality is good and is sold for genuine rates. On the day of the festival they are given all opportunities to enjoy the day as everyone else does. They are provided good food and sweets and they sit together with the authorities and enjoy just like a family. The only difference created is because of the bars but they celebrate it just like a festival, without any kind of limitations.
A prisoner told, “I am in Jail from the last six years. I have learnt candle making as well as other things about life while learning here. We don’t follow any profit strategy here, it is a no loss no gain business. Whatever we do we keep a check on quality. Our superintendent, Harish Kotwal’s motive is to make us learn and evolve into better human beings and we are learning about almost everything here behind the bars. We are also made to get involved in various other projects and we even did a computer course so as that can help our future. Learning everything we are living a happy life here. The festival is celebrated as a family here, the officials come and enjoy with us and the whole project conveys a message to us and the society that we should keep doing good to have good. We do miss our families on the day as we are away but they come and meet us every week. We are leaving no stone unturned and we are setting examples for the society with our work and dedication.” On asking what message would he want to convey to the society, he told that the society is dismantled because of drug addiction and we should rather avoid getting involved in such deeds as they give nothing but harm to us. There is opportunity for everyone in this country and we should look for those chances instead of easy escapes. “One more thing that I would want to say to the society is that we should keep doing whatever we can for our family, society and country. This business will make us live a good life after we step out of the jails, Society should not hate us simply because we are handcuffed, many innocents are also stuck here but we are recovering our lives with our work now, one should not judge us just because we were culprits once” , he added.
Another prisoner told that this business will be beneficial in the long run as we can establish ourselves later on and feed our family through this learning. We have learnt here and we want to grow more. We don’t want to get diverted from good deeds. People outside have their lives illuminated and we who make candles for them have our lives darkened behind the bars, living away from family and the whole world but it’s a life lesson for us that we should stick to the right path. We are learning how to live and how to stay on the righteous path.