The Telegraph
Monday , February 3 , 2014
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Mother Teresa inspires jailbirds to sketch

- Former criminals see hope in voluntary organisation’s national-level pencil drawing competition

Ten inmates of Motihari Central Jail are pouring their hearts out through sketches of Mother Teresa on paper.

The Prison Ministry of India, a national voluntary organisation working for reforms in jail, recently announced “Mother Teresa — the icon of hope for the poor” as its theme for jailbirds in 2014 .

The Prison Ministry of India describes itself as a national voluntary organisation dedicated to the release, renewal and rehabilitation of prison inmates and their families on its homepage on a social networking website.

“The Prison Ministry of India started conducting this national-level pencil drawing competition for jail inmates six years ago by providing them a platform for creative thinking and venting out the same in the form of sketches to make their harmless presence in society felt,” said the central superintendent of the jail, Rupak Kumar.

“The Prison Ministry of India has decided the aforesaid subject this year for prisoners. Those interested in taking part in the competition have been asked to submit their entries by the end of this month so that they reach Bangalore before March 31 this year,” he added.

Commenting on the nature of participants in the competition, the jail superintendent said: “Inmates, who are trying to vent their feelings through the sketches, had once been criminals. Now, they are in prison charged with serious offences committed either under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Arms Act or the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.”

“Mantu Sharma, Suresh Sah, Ram Vinay Yadav, Lal Kishore Yadav, Subhas Yadav, Nitesh Kumar, Ranjan Kumar, Upendra Choudhary, Arjun Yadav and Munna Mishra are either undertrials or convicted accused,” said the jail superintendent.

“Our basic aim was to engage the inmates to save them from depression and destructive thoughts for rest of their lives. We, in fact, want to equip the prisoners with vocational training and enable them to lead a normal life outside prison by eking their livelihood through skill imparted in jail,” he added.

“We are really thankful to the Prison Ministry of India, which provided us such an opportunity to bring us back to the mainstream. The superintendent has always been encouraging us to show our worth before the outside world and thus enabling us to get social recognition once we are released,” said a lifer, Upendra Choudhary from West Champaran.

He was convicted of abduction and murder by a sessions court of West Champaran in February, 2012.

“Apart from training the jailbirds for earning honest money through hard labour for their family members, the Prison Ministry of India also intends to imbibe artistic qualities in inmates who show such inclination,” said the jail superintendent.

The Prison Ministry of India arranges for cash prizes, certificates and grading of the submitted entries. The awards are handed over to the winners at a function in Bangalore in July every year.

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