(left) Inmates of a Dailekh-based prison making chairs in this recent photo. (Right) An inmate weaves a mat.
DAILEKH, Jan 26: Krishna Khatri, leader of inmates in Dailekh jail, wakes up before sunrise in the morning. After washing his face, he enters the library hall for yoga class. After practicing yoga and meditation, he participates in ‘puja’ and distributes ‘prasad’. He then takes his morning meal and then gets busy at income generating work. Sometimes, he takes fun in playing carom board and other sports with fellow inmates. He is also seen contributing labor for an under-construction temple.
“That is not just my routine, but everyone else’s here. Except for the elderly, feeble and those who have taken ill, others wake up at dawn and join yoga session. After that, there is puja followed by meal. Then, we all get busy with our respective work,” narrates Khatri. “We are also constructing a temple here. The jail’s adopted this policy so that inmates would find it easy to adjust in society when they walk away from here as free men,” he added.
The yoga session has brought huge changes among the prisoners. They have started becoming peaceful and composed. Similarly, their interest in works has grown resulting in better production of handmade goods.
“One can earn a good amount of money even from inside the jail. What we are doing here is a perfect example of it. We feel more concentrated here,” Khatri elaborated.
According to him, performing puja in the jail has greatly impacted the inmates’ lives. “They have developed a positive outlook toward life.”
“Now, everyone is happy here while making the statue of lord. This gives us opportunity to learn lots of things apart from changing our attitude and boosting our confidence,” he said. “We sit for yoga and meditation for one and a half hours. Starting a day like that keeps you charged for the entire day. And puja or devotion forces you to become a better person than before.”
Just like any other jail of the country, this prison too is overcrowded. While it has the capacity to accommodate only 80 people, there are currently 122 inmates living here. “However, the pressure of additional members is not felt,” he shares.
“There isn’t not sufficient space. But due to the positive attitude, adjustment has become easy. We are not facing much problem,” Khatri said.
According to the jailer, Jit Bahadur Khatri, the prison is managed very well. Everything is in order due to the and positive spirit of the inmates.
“This jail is in operation since the last five years. Earlier, it was one of the ordinary prisons in the country, but no more. Now, due to several kinds of physical and moral classes, and our policies, things have changed,” he noted.
“We are promoting brotherhood, decent living, and humanity among the inmates. If you spend time here, it does not feel like a jail but a disciplined home,” he added.
Jailer Khatri gives big credit to the inmates who were open to changes. If they had not duly accepted the programs introduced by the administration, the result would not have been positive, he said.
The jail has purchased enough machines for knitting and sewing as well as for other handicrafts. Both male and female inmates have learnt to work on the machines. As per their skill and interest, they produce handicrafts.
“Dhaka products are most in demand and the inmates too feel encouraged to produce such pieces. As per their skill, they chose their work,” said the jailer. “Similarly, in the course of organizing cultural and religious shows, we came to identify other types of skills and interest of the inmates here. This has also given them opportunities and made their lives better.”
The jail administration not only provides possible trainings to the inmates but is also making efforts for channelizing the products to the market for better price. “We are doing all we can from encouraging the inmates to live a positive life to making their days productive. We also care about marketing of the products,” Khatri said.
Except male and female inmates, there are two toddlers too at the jail. They are under protection of their mothers who are facing jail terms. Though they do not have access to the open world, the kids are being cared well and are in good health, the jailer said.