For the inmates of Guwahati Central Jail, it was not a smooth transition from the gun to the pen, but the wish to start life anew was what got them to write their examinations in a first time experiment in Assam.
Some of the inmates, who include former hardcore militants, were plain nervous appearing for an examination after long years, while others were just amused.
Eighteen inmates of the jail appeared in the two-day examination inside the jail campus at the Fancy Bazaar area recently after finishing a six-month course conducted by the K K Handique state open university in Guwahati.
Ankuran Dutta of the open university says there was tremendous enthusiasm among the inmates and most of them exuded confidence that they would fare well.
They appeared for examination for English, Mathematics, Social Science, Electronics and Advanced Mathematics. The candidates for the last two subjects intended to seek admission in the Bachelor of Computer Application course in the same university.
"This will probably change their live and once they are out of jail they can pursue a decent profession," Dutta said.
The jail, Dutta says, has at present 26 inmates pursuing a course called Bachelors Preparatory Programme which is meant for the class ten to twelve students.
"The course is totally free of cost and includes all the study materials...Even pen and paper for the examinees are being supplied from the institution," he says.
"We have got feedback that by seeing the inmates study, other prisoners have also shown interest. It is expected that more "students" are likely to join the course, Dutta said.
He said the classes were held twice a week by the university's faculty member, Prof Robin Goswami, who is a former head of the department of English of the premier educational institution of the region - Cotton College.
Apart from the weekly classes, the university also holds special classes for the inmates as and when necessary.
Dutta said going by the enthsiasm shown among the inmates, the university planned to reach out to other jails of the state as well in a phased manner.