When Gujarat prisoners wrote essays on Mahatma Gandhi

February 1st, 2009 - 7:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, Feb 1 (IANS) Winds of change, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, are blowing across Gujarat’s prisons.On Jan 30, Martyrs Day, around 13,000 inmates of 24 prisons in the state paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi and observed a two-minute silence on his death anniversary. Later, an essay competition was held on ‘Inspiration from Gandhiji’s life’, in which more than 740 inmates, including women, took part.

The names of the winners will be announced next week. Cash awards of Rs.500, Rs.300 and Rs.200 will be given as first, second and third prizes respectively. In all, there would be 72 winners who would be given awards at a function next week.

“It is for the first time that prisoners across the state have paid homage, observed silence and participated in an essay competition simultaneously in such a manner,” Inspector General of Police (Prisons) Keshav Kumar told IANS Sunday.

He said the aim of the essay competition was to motivate prisoners to follow the principles of Mahatma Gandhi and reform themselves and get back to the mainstream of society after their release from prison.

“We conducted special coaching camps for prisoners, especially from tribal areas, who could not read or write so that they too could participate in the essay competition and express their thoughts,” Kumar said.

The initiative was the brain child of Kumar and other Indian Police Service (IPS) officers.

The State Bank of India sponsored the jail programme. “It is a novel attempt and I am planning to get an entry into the Limca Book of Records for the participation of jail inmates in such an essay competition,” said Kumar.

The total prize money amount of Rs.25,000 will be contributed by SBI. The essays will be evaluated by a government school teacher.

At the district jails, the prizes would be given by the district level officers of the bank.

Mahatma Gandhi had on Nov 2, 1947, written in his weekly newspaper Harijan: “All criminals should be treated as patients and the jails should be the hospitals admitting this class of patients for treatment and cure. No one commits crime for the fun of it. It is a sign of a diseased mind. The outlook of the jail staff should be that of physicians and nurses in a hospital. The prisoners should feel that the officials are their friends. They are there to help them to regain their mental health, and not to harass them in any way.”

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