Jail Diary

Saturday, June 28, 2014

One token means one inmate’s freedom!

 Finally, Mr. Dhamne, gave a nod to one of his officers- “Take them and please ensure the arrangements.”

He very politely said “Yes Sir” to him and then turned to our side to proceed for the venue. We all stood, wished Mr Dhamne and left his cabin. Now, it was time to go inside the actual premise. I was told to make the entry of my all group members. First I was told that everyone will make his/her entry in register individually. Later on, I was advised that I can only write the names of my group members and sign at one place. I did the same. Now, we were asked to deposit our money bags. Mobiles were already deposited before entering in the cabin of Mr. Dhamne. Everyone was hesitant. One official said, “Sir! Your money would be safe here. We cannot give you any guarantee inside.”

“Why? After all, you or your officials will be there no?” I simply asked.

He said, “We would certainly be there Madam!. But you would be busy in your program. We would be here and there for all arrangements. This is off time. Prisoners will be roaming here and there. We can’t stop anyone. Suppose someone will do something wrong, how will we come to know about the actual culprit.” He said, “After all, this is jail Madam and they are prisoners. We can’t trust on them fully. Now it’s on you to decide.”

We thought for a while and deposited our purses and money bag over there. We were told to count money before handing over. Some group members did, some did not.

Our other belongings, which we were carrying to take inside were checked. I had a very domestic kind of camera. After a little discussion, we were allowed to take it along with us, subject to concentrate on the activity photographs only. I agreed. In fact, I did not want to take any unlawful act. This will not only harm me, but will take away my opportunity to do something creative with the inmates.  

All male group members were given a token. Signatures were taken by them. Group members were warned very seriously to keep the token very safely and will return while going back.


“Otherwise, you will not be allowed to go out. Official, who was giving token, said, “If you will lose this token and suppose, one inmate will get it, it means, he will get out from here by showing it. One token means, one person’s free pass. …We can’t recognize and memories each and every faces of thousand inmates.”

I was not given any token. One member raised his hand towards me. He smiled, “Madam is a woman. This jail is for men only. So madam cannot live inside the jail. And if by any chance, she will be inside, we will find out her very easily. So she is not required any token.”

Subodh quickly teased me, “Privilege class!”  We all laughed.

Assistant Superintendant ordered to open the gate. The Big Inside Gate was opened. We entered inside. It was looking that we are traveling to some mysterious place. Only some filmy music was missing. But the moment gate opened and we entered inside, I just wowed! Huge premise! Clean and green! I praised it. The officer said that this all are maintained by the inmates only. I thought, the same people, who are here as prisoners, are maintaining cleanliness and green environment here. But same people ruin the concept of cleanliness, when they are out.

We were going towards hall. In our left hand side, we found a different kind of structure. Under my curiosity, I asked officer. He said, this is Egg cell (Anda Cell). Serious and dangerous prisoners are kept here. We don’t allow them to go out except for their dates of hearing of their cases. He was giving us a little information towards the jail, its barracks and number of prisoners. These were very common information, anybody can get it. But getting these information by reading in newspapers or hearing on channels are quite different as compare to listning the same from an officer of the jail. 

It was around 11.30 am. It was open time. So prisoners were busy in their chores. Some were washing their clothes, someone watering the plants, some were busy in trimming the plants. One inmate, sitting near tap was only in underwear. The moment he saw us, he wrapped himself with his towel and started cursing jail officials for not informing him that some outsiders are coming, specially a lady. I saw, he immediately entered inside his barrack. I turned my views towards other angle, where some were sitting and chitchatting. It was a huge hall. Around twenty people were sitting there. They were looking like tiny stars before the sun- type of huge hall. In fact, I also could not realize and just asked, “Oh that much only?”

The officer said, “You only had told us that 20-25 people would be enough for you. We can give you people as much as you want. I looked at Subodh. He gave an eye on the crowd and said, “We won’t mind to get some five more people. The officer said to his staff. And within no time, a big group had entered in the hall. I became nervous.

We had a limited drawing materials with us, not to fulfill the need of such a big group. The officer was looking at us. He laughed and said, “No problem! You let us know, how many participants you want. We will provide you as much. And he started asking, “Who wants to participate in this workshop?’

Someone asked, “What type of this workshop is Sir?”

“Art. Painting. Drawing. You know Owale no? He paints. Similarly, they had come to tell you how you can draw? Had you draw anytime?”

Some had raised their hands. The officer again said, “Whoever wants to participate may stay here. Rest of you can go.

The big crowed had entered like a storm, got disappeared within no time. Some of them stayed back. Now, the crowd was of around thirty odd people. Subodh said, Now, we will start.” (Contd…)

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