Stay tuned: Mainpuri jail radio quite a hit among inmates
Every afternoon, the Mainpuri district jail comes to life as around 1,200 inmates gather to listen to the in-house radio jockey Ajay Chauhan, who gives them their daily dose of 60 minutes packed with entertainment.
As soon as Chauhan makes the announcement “namaskar doston, main apka dost aur host Ajay Chauhan jail radio Mainpuri main apka swagat karta hun, (I am your host Ajay Chauhan and I welcome you to the Mainpuri jail radio),” prisoners begin to cheer, eagerly awaiting their favourite Bollywood numbers, performances of fellow inmates as well as jail news. The jail radio run using the public announcement system became operational on June 1 and has already become a huge hit with the inmates. Even though the show is scheduled in the afternoon, preparations begin in the morning itself. Prison officials go through the suggestions and song requests and discuss them with Chauhan, who is serving a life term. Sitting in the announcement room of the administrative building, he starts the show with jail news, health issues, legal rights of inmates and then goes on to play song requests.
“Initially, inmates rarely used to give suggestions or requests but now the officers receive close to 100 requests every day. The songs are requested by jail inmates. We accept requests every day that are played in the next day’s programme,” said jail superintendent Hari Om Sharma.
Sharma added, “This is a way to establish communication with jail inmates as well as to make them participate in the activity.”
Taking a cue from its popularity, the jail has also started a talent hunt programme. “Inmates who can sing, recite a poem or play an instrument are allowed to showcase their skills on the jail radio in a special programme every Saturday. So far, 80 inmates have performed on the radio show,” said the superintendent.
Jail officials have also introduced a grading system of barracks based on cleanliness, discipline and team work. The marks obtained by every barrack are announced on the radio every week. “The grading system has brought in healthy competition among the inmates who make efforts to ensure that their barrack gets a good grade,” said Sharma.
Director general of UP prison administration and reform Anand Kumar said, “Our aim is to create a positive vibe in the jail. Not only does radio programme keep the inmates entertained, it can also be a good vocation. We are planning to arrange training for inmates interested in this field so that they can utilise their skills when they are released from prison.”
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