In a first, Yerawada Central Prison allows inmates to meet their kids
This rare meeting of children with their parent was organised by the jail authorities on Saturday under an initiative called ‘Galabhet’, a Marathi word which literally translates into ‘loving hug’.pune Updated: Aug 13, 2017 16:23 IST
A 14-year-old girl broke into tears as she spoke about her father - a murder convict serving time in the Yerawda Central Jail. She was meeting her father after many years. What followed on a little stage inside the prison was a stream of children who could not control their tears and asked the jail authorities to reduce the sentence of their respective fathers.
This rare meeting of children with their parent was organised by the jail authorities on Saturday under an initiative called ‘Galabhet’, a Marathi word which literally translates into ‘loving hug’.
Around 200 inmates - including 13 females - had registered names of their children for this event.
Jail superintendent Uttam T Pawar announced that the initiative will be made permanent and the next such programme will be held during Diwali in October. He said that the state government has taken note of the initiative and introduced it in all the jails in the state.
Additional director general of police (prisons), Bhushankumar Upadhyay, presided over the emotional reunion of the children with their fathers and said that the idea originated from a visit to Nagpur jail during Rakshabandhan when the inmates’ sisters were allowed inside the prison premises. That is when superintendent Pawar came up with the idea of allowing the inmates to meet their children.
“You are like our children while you are inside the jail. If you or even your children have any problem, you can tell superintendent Pawar and he will tell me. This is now a permanent programme,” Upadhyay said.
These words meant more than mere words for Balu Dattu Pawade, a 47-year-old who was meeting his seven-year-old daughter for the first time.
Pawade held his daughter for the first time in seven years after his last parole in 2010 when his wife became pregnant. The child was accompanied by her elder sister who studies in Class 12.
Both looked at their father and tried to get accustomed to the situation. While the elder daughter looked at the father she once knew in a different way, the little girl was thrilled to finally meet her father. The excitement was, however, thinly veiled with confusion as she did not know how to adjust to his physical form of the man about whom she had only heard.
The complete impact of the fact that her father was a prisoner serving a life sentence (since 2004) had not yet settled in her innocent mind.
Such scenes filled the little room inside the jail, which is home to hardened criminals and death row convicts, and others, numbering 1,500 convicts and 3,500 under trials.
Angad Jagannath Ghadekar, a 58-year-old grandfather, had been trying to meet his grandson since his birth three years ago. A villager from Solapur, Ghadekar is serving life in prison for the murder of his first wife - a fact that remained deeply buried even as his grandson was enjoying on his shoulder.
Bilal Abdul Rehman Sheikh and Balasaheb Shankar Ganadhale sat next to each other in one corner of the room with their children as their wives stood outside the prison premises, waiting for a part of their family to return. While Sheikh spoke about the murder charge against him, Ganadhale refused to discuss the matter - dismissing it as a “family matter” - in the presence of his children.
While family members and relatives of inmates flooded the street outside the prison, a few hundred metres from them, 220 children saw a part of the suspended reality their fathers lived in.