Music is magic.
And Tihar jail’s common room — the Association Barrack — is where it’s being performed right now.
The jail authorities have introduced music therapy to “reduce depression and criminal instincts” among first-time offenders.
A first-time offender, according to jail officials, refers to under-trials who are in judicial custody for crimes like theft, burglary or, in the most serious of cases, an attempt to murder.
So the inmates enjoying the melodious experience are men like Kishore Sahni, who is facing a burglary charge, and his friend Pankaj Tomar, who is facing a charge of stabbing.
“We have noticed that when these first-time, casual offenders come to jail they get depressed. This sometimes leads to ailments and even suicides,” said Tihar spokesperson Sunil Gupta.
As part of the music therapy pilot project, a few satellite radio sets have been set up in the model ward, which houses first-time offenders and under-trials of Jail Number 1.
The jail spent Rs 15,000 for the American private digital satellite radio service. The sets have been set up in a 40X30 ft common room called the Association Barrack that can accommodate around 50 inmates at a time.
The music apparently also helps in keeping minor “offenders” away from the influence of inmates in jail for serious crimes.
They have fewer reasons now to step out of their wards and interact with “gangsters and terrorists, who might later try to influence and even recruit them”, a jail official involved with the project said. Since the source is not authorised to talk to the media, we are withholding his name and designation.
“The choices for tuning in to the programmes are made by the inmates and they can listen to the programmes from 6 am to 10 pm,” the official said.
The project was introduced on the initiative of Delhi High Court Justice P.K. Midha and the jail’s own “encouraging experience” of using music to treat/calm psychiatric patients.