‘Do good and be good’ is the message of the letters from 109 prisoners in a Madhya Pradesh jail to their children.
The gesture is part of the jail authorities’ unique initiative to help prisoners share their man-ki-baat with their children.
All the 109 prisoners are serving life sentence at the Central Jail of Satna. Of course, not all of them can put their feelings in words and hence jail superintendent Shefali Rajesh eased their job by getting a common letter drafted to carry their message with the help of two prisoners, who can write and read well.
But, how did Rajesh get the idea? She says, “Every Monday we hold a counselling session for the inmates. On one such Monday in June, I came across several prisoners who were worried about their children’s future as the latter had left studies. They feared that their children might take to crime too because of the distress and the pressure they feel in society.”
This, she says, gave her the idea to help the prisoners share their heart’s advice with their children through letters.
Their advice ranges from ‘study seriously, grow at least one plant in life, don’t get provoked, be polite, see the positive side of life and control anger. Some of them have even attached a poem by late Harivansh Rai Bacchan as a motivational support.
One of the letters reads, “Even in jail I always remember you all and think of your future. My dream is that you do so well for the family that we be proud of you. It’s possible when you get good education and learn good etiquette….Whatever struggle you may face and whatever opportunities you may grab, but never leave the path of truth and goodness. Never indulge in any wrongdoing for any greed or petty profit. Be focused on big aims and objective of life.”
The letter has been reproduced by the prisoners some of whom include Shyam Lal, Upendra Khare, Dhansu Prasad Lodhi and Munna Lal.
The letters were sent through the slow mail. The jail authorities are now want to analyse their impact on the jail inmates’ children.
Rajesh says, “Being a daughter or a son of a criminal is in itself a challenge. The only way to break the chain of crime is to motivate prisoners to see the positive in life. So that they can encourage their children to take up good activities in life.”
There are 1300 inmates in the jail. Several others too are inspired and are planning to send similar letters to their families. Rajesh, who looks after nine jails, says she will take this idea to other jails also.
Rajesh is happy that the idea has been appreciated by the senior jail authorities and asked her to continue the initiative.
Parenting counsellor Aamir Mehboob says the impact of a letter is much greater than spoken words also.
“This is an innovative approach. Somewhere it will create a sense of belonging among the children. For children knowing that their father cares for them is one of the most needed securities. If such letters become a regular feature then it will have a greater impact on the minds of children,” says Mehboob.