For 48 prisoners of Alipore Central Jail, Tuesday was a day they will never forget.
They are never going to forget J. Ramaswamy, either. For, he had inspired them to raise Rs 30,000 from their wages and donate it to Iti Baidya, who stood ninth in the 2001 Madhyamik examinations.
Iti had surprised everyone with her brilliant results, because her home, including her schoolbooks, was washed away in the September 2000 floods.
Ramaswamy — due to be released from Alipore Central jail on Friday — donated Rs 4,500 to Iti. She ranked 104th in this year’s medical entrance examinations, but faced the possibility of giving up education owing to poverty.
Ramaswamy read about her in the newspapers. Undeterred by the fact that he was spending his life behind bars, the former deputy manager of a bank decided to donate Rs 4,500 to Iti.
Ramaswamy came out on a two-hour parole from Alipore Central jail to visit Writers’ Buildings on Tuesday and hand over his donation to Iti’s father, Nimai Baidya, in the office of state prisons minister Biswanath Chowdhury. A former deputy manager of a bank on Park Street, Ramaswamy was charged in a CBI special case.
“I read in The Telegraph about Iti’s plight, when she ranked 104th in her medical entrance but could not afford to pursue her studies. So I wanted to do something on my part,” Ramaswamy said. Iti is now studying medicine, all her expenses being borne by a Calcuttan, who prefers to remain anonymous. As a father, Ramaswamy could relate to her predicament. “I have a daughter studying MBA,” he said.
The cheques donated by Ramaswamy and the 48 convicts were handed over to Iti’s father. “I haven’t been able to provide higher education to Iti’s three sisters for financial constraints,” he lamented.
Minister Biswanath Chowdhury said: “This is the first time a jail inmate has been brought to Writers’ Buildings and for such a special cause. It shows that the prisons are becoming correctional homes in the truest sense of the term,” he said.
Two other poor students, who had also cleared the JEE examinations, have found benefactors and admissions to different institutions.
Shobhan Pal has gained admission to B.E. College, in Shibpur, and Anup Sarkar is now studying in North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.
On Tuesday, a psychiatrist and a journalist donated the fees and accommodation charges of Ramkrishna Sardar, who is studying medicine in Medical College and Hospital. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee gave Rs 20,000 from his relief fund to Ramkrishna’s father to free his mortgaged land.