The Telegraph
Friday , August 1 , 2014
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From convict to counsellor
- 35-year-old serving life term for murder at Birsa jail bags Ignou job

To start the next chapter of your life, you have to stop re-reading the last one.

A soon-to-be-released life convict who has landed a job, apparently as a student counsellor, with Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) has sent this candid message to prisoners of Birsa Munda Central Jail, Ranchi, and everybody else.

According to jail superintendent D.K. Pradhan, Prem Kumar Singh, now 35, was arrested for murder and awarded life term some 14 years ago. The senior official couldn’t furnish further details about the case without file support, but said Singh would complete his sentence in two months.

“And then, he can become the brand ambassador of our jail,” Pradhan quipped and contended that this was the first time an inmate in the state had been directly recruited by a company.

On Monday, Ignou had organised a degree ceremony on the Hotwar jail premises. Around 24 prisoners, who have cleared plus two and graduation, were awarded certificates in the presence of Pradhan, Ignou regional director Shiva Kumar G.M. and other varsity officials.

“It was during the function that Ignou made the surprise announcement on Prem Singh’s recruitment. He has cleared BA (honours) with distinction and the varsity officials are very impressed with his dedication and good conduct over the years,” said the superintendent.

Pradhan added that the job profile and remuneration being offered to Singh were yet to be known because paperwork would take some time. “However, as far as I understand, Singh will counsel students on admission, besides doing office work. It will be a good beginning for him. He is expected to walk free in September.”

The young convict completed his education, from matriculation to graduation, from inside guarded walls.

“It is a matter of great pride that despite living amid criminals, he managed to pursue his academics and also came out with flying colours. He has upheld the objective of a correctional facility, which is to reform a wrongdoer and not to punish him. We hope he has motivated and will motivate others to follow in his footsteps,” Pradhan said.

Ignou, on the other hand, has assured the Birsa jail authorities that it would become a permanent headhunter. “We had a meeting with varsity officials on future plans. They sounded positive to conduct campus recruitment drives. We are also exploring ties with other firms for placing skilled workers after the end of their jail terms,” the superintendent said.

Jharkhand has around 26 jails, which includes five high-security central prisons and the rest divisional or subdivisional ones.

Ignou has its study centre, offering matriculation, intermediate, graduation and postgraduation degrees only at the prison in Hotwar. Birsa jail also boasts several vocational programmes where inmates are taught how to sew, weave blankets or become motor mechanics and electricians to equip them with skills and ensure proper rehabilitation after sentences are served.

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