A PRISONER’S LIFE STORY
At ‘Parappana Agrahara’, Central Prison in Bangalore, there are about 4,500 prisoners, belonging to almost all the States in India, and the Union Territories too. There are foreigners men and women, caught in various types of crimes proved or not. Yes, affluent, socially who are well off, find release or bail faster than ordinary or who are at the lower strata in the social ladder.
At Parappana Agrahara in the Women’s Section, where there are 120 to 150 women, (number varies now and then) on Fridays they have common prayer. Those who wish, come and take part in the ‘Praise and Worship.’ At the end of the prayer, as usual, we PMI members present, lay our hands on them and pray. Right behind, the last raw, I noticed a young woman, ‘like the woman with two coins,’ whom Jesus admired, (Mk.12:42) I noticed, a young woman, head fully covered, not daring to lift her head high. For she was a stranger, did not know the common language to converse with others. I coming from a teaching background, as usual, my attention went to the back bencher who was not lifting her head, resigned to her destiny. My attention went to her; I took her away from the rest, and got into conversation. She could converse in Hindi, and I was happy to get into her world. She is Makku Maya Lama, from Nepal. How come, such a young woman of 33years, with a good husband and three school going children, leaving behind in Nepal, this Makku here languishing in the Indian Prison! Strange I felt. Her face did not look for me like a person, capable of any crime. Talking to her many a time, on my visits, I was convinced; Makku Maya Lama was deceived by the agents in Nepal itself. Her country, the area she lived had undergone some natural calamities, the earthquake made them vacate the place, and they lost everything.
Makku had had enough zest for living, whatever problems may be she had to face, she wanted to rebuild and reconstruct her family once again. Though her Mother- in -law was adamant that she doesn’t leave the family and go out, she advised her not to send the children to school anyway they will be getting married sooner or later, the boy , about 15 years would be useful for domestic work……Her two daughters were in the High School then. The Travel Agent interfered and promised ‘green pastures’ in Dubai. She was also told to tell several lies ‘her husband was working in Dubai and she was going there to join him.’ In reality, her husband was in Nepal, looking after their three school going children. Due to the massive earthquake, and other natural calamities, many families had become homeless. They were living in the tents, so, Makku’s husband contacted an agent and decided to send her to one of the Gulf countries. So Makku was brought to Delhi and then to Bangalore. In the airport she was caught, for the false entries in her passport and send to ‘Parappana Agrahara,’ Central Jail. She was imprisoned on 19.06. 2015. It was a big shock for Makku, instead of earning money for the education and sustenance of her children here she was counting days in the prison. She was sentenced to seven years. Her agent from Nepal found her a Lawyer. I do remember a student arguing in a debate: “Lawyer’s profession is a liar’s profession…. Parents have spent money for my education, it is my duty to redeem.” At the end, the group was convinced, Lawyers have to be sincere and honest like Gandhiji and other citizens……Makku’s husband had borrowed Rs.80,000 and given to the respective Lawyer, and the Lawyer was not satisfied, he was demanding more. My friends were a great help to contact this lawyer and get the NOC and the case papers to my address by courier. We approached a second lawyer, who advised us to contact a High Court Lawyer. We were not familiar with good High Court Lawyers. Through one priest, I came to know a good Catholic High Court Lawyer, who started working with Makku’s case seriously. Once he rang up to me and said, “Sister, I want her children’s photos, could you get them immediately?” I said “Alright” Lawyer’s time to speak to him or he to speak to me was after 6.30 pm. our prayer time starts at 6.00 pm “For a good cause, God will excuse me I thought to myself…”On that night itself I tried to contact Makku’s husband several times, tried to ring up her close relatives, everything was in vain, next day I contacted some Nepalese girls from the Hostel, and some Nepali Securities around, and gave them the three phone numbers of her husband and relatives, but it was next to impossible to contact Mr. Bahadur her husband or anyone else. That afternoon, as usual, when I went to the Chapel, a flash, a sudden thought came to my mind; couldn’t I get some more phone numbers from Makku if she has more? I immediately rushed to the prison to ask her for phone numbers if she had. She had told me, since there are many hills over there, they don’t get the range, no connection with other people sometimes for days together. In the afternoon, when I rushed to the prison, a big miracle was waiting for me. To my utter dismay, she said she had her children’s as well as her husband’s photos. She had with her, her voter ID too. She did not bring them, but her daughter had put them in her bag! I was happy to grab them, go to the studio get the photos done and give to the Lawyer and to Makku, instead of one set I gave her two sets of photos of her family. (I too have one set of photos with me!)
Makku Maya Lama was imprisoned on 19/06/2015. She did not waste her time in the prison. Neither took part in the usual gossip. She was attending Kannada classes and she stood first in the class. She was awarded a “chembu” container to fetch butter milk. I asked her, when she was with us, “Maya, where is your gift, I don’t see it with you!” “No Sister, I did not bring here, I gave that one, on the same day, to another lady, Gauramma, who did not have a vessel to get buttermilk.” Oh! Good, I said. Makku was a keen observer. The Lady police often said, “Yaava Kelasa aadharu agabahudu, ee jailina kelasa bedave bedappa!) “ any work is alright, but working in the prison don’t want at all.” Within eight months, Makku could speak Kannada fluently! She attended prayers regularly and spend time in reading books Sisters gave her. “Makku, you speak Hindi so well, where as your husband is not so fluent, I have to repeat the sentence three times, your children also don’t understand Hindi.” I said. “After coming to the Prison, here, there are so many speaking Hindi, talking to them I have learned Hindi.” She said.
High Court Lawyer was good and gave us 90% concession, then he told us, to contact a lawyer at Devanahalli where Makku was arrested. God provided us a good Lawyer, but he did not give us concession, but took a little more. We will have to see his face in the future for the release of other prisoners, so we obliged. On the day, Makku had to be released we were on time at Devanahalli. They told us it would be in the morning. But they brought her at 3.00pm. She was taken to stand before the Judge, a Lady Judge who looked very simple, who turned the pages of her file, for a while and declared, “Makku Maya Lama is released today.” I was called to translate her words in Hindi and tell Makku that she was released. Along with my translation, tears of joy also dropped down, which I did not want to show to anyone. Yes, many times, we had to meet the Lawyers. This labour of love, did not make a person tired. From Devana halli they brought her to Parappana Agrahara to the Prison, where she had to complete all the formalities, and when she was released it was 9.00pm of 3.03.2016. Waiting outside the prison was another unique unforgettable experience. Mosquitoes in plenty, your two hands are not enough, and then you see only men in uniform, moving silently on duty. You also see stray dogs, don’t know, what messengers they are. When I saw, Makku coming out through the wicket gate, with a small bag in the hand, I felt so elated, a blood relation, a part of me is set free. We hired a rickshaw, and reached the Convent. We had our supper in the Convent. She was not fussy about the food, we walked to the Chapel, thanked God for all the wonders that God had done in our lives. A room was prepared for her in the Hostel, I told her our time table, we rise at 5.00 am, start our prayer at 5.30 am we have Mass at 6.30 and so on. I told her to sleep as much as she wanted. At 7.30am I would be knocking at her door, to take her for breakfast. To my surprise Makku was in the Chapel at 5.40 am. She had two or three books with her, busy reading and praying. She attended all our prayers. Sometimes she was before us in the Chapel especially in the afternoon and in the evening. Nearly two weeks she was our honoured guest. I took her out, on my visits. Even our SVP member, Michel invited Makku and me for a dinner and gifted her so many things. Our Community was generous. Our two PMI members Mrs Lorraine and Mrs Annie were very supportive. Mrs Lorraine, though her sick parents needed lot of attention, she had to rush to Mumbai now and then, she was here with her vehicle to reach Makku to the airport. We wanted Makku to reach her country, without any problem, so, I brought the “Detention Certificate” from the prison with all the details, that she is acquitted from the prison. We weighed her luggage, which was a few kilos more, did not feel like subtracting! Another miracle was waiting for us at the Airport, two families we found travelling to Nepal, who were too happy to take care of Makku. We waved each other till she disappeared. There was silence and tears. Though I wished her to remain in India very much, but my inner voice told me, how much her family must be waiting for her! Makku belongs to her family and not me. Her family has accepted Faith and she is growing in that New Found Faith. God be praised!
Sr. M. Shalini SRA
Asha Kiran Convent
Hebbagodi, Elecronic City
This article is for the PMI competition 2018
Freedom is a longing of the heart and who would like to be in prison. Being in prison is the biggest punishment that one can get. Being enclosed in a small cell can be stifling for the spirit. The spirit longs for open space and people to interact with and fulfill one’s dreams.
Five years ago, while I was still a novice at Prison Ministry in Mumbai, and on my first visit to the CR Section (where boys with Criminal Records are kept) at the Remand Home at Dongri, I met three young boys. I asked them how did they land there. One boy Mohsin Khan said that he was arrested for Half Murder. I was surprised to hear that term and asked him what it meant. He said that the victim did not die.
I told Mohsin that he was lucky and asked him why he did it. He said that he was promised Rs. 10,000. His friends escaped but he was caught. He cried like a child and said “Aunty, Save me. Tell my father I am here.” He had a step mother and he did not want to go home. Every visit I used to tell him stories and I said to him, “Mohsin, you are lucky. God has given you such a nice body and you should use it well.” He had done Std. VIII and did not want to study further. I told him that he was clever and he should take up a trade like Electrician or Motor Mechanic.
Soon Mohsin was shifted to Matunga David Sassoon Children’s Home and I missed him. I and my colleague went to visit him but were sorry to hear that he had escaped from there. I could not do anything for Mohsin but I prayed to God for his wellbeing.
Two years later, on my usual visit to the Dongri Remand Home, I saw a tall handsome boy, well dressed and with a mobile phone in his hand, standing in front of me. I could not believe what I saw. He said, “Aunty, I am Mohsin. You told me to become a Motor Mechanic and I have become one.”
I was so happy. We went to a nearby restaurant and had a long chat over tea. Mohsin was back with his family and was doing well. I had tears in my eyes and wished him well for his future and he said, “No more Half Murder Aunty.”
Prison Ministry (Mumbai)
(The writer is a volunteer of PMI Mumbai and belong to O.L. of Mount Carmel Parish, Bandra, Archdiocese of Bombay. She engages in rehab work of inmates of the Remand Home and has assisted in the rehabilitation of a number of physically disabled and mentally challenged children.)
Released ... But wanted to stay in prison
One day when I visited the men’s barrack, a middle aged man called me and asked to give him some poison to die. I asked him, how much ?.. one kilo ? ….Then I sat with him to find out why he wanted poison.
Mohan Rao is an RMP doctor from Hyderabad city. He hails from one of the remote villages. He had his family of wife and three children. His entry into prison is very interesting. He came to know that his family was having a dispute of land with neighboring family. He rushed to help his old father and brothers. While the tough of war was going on , he took a stick and gave a blow to the man on the opposite side. He fell on the ground and died… RMP was booked on murder case and brought him to the prison. He had to remain in prison for five years. During that period nobody of his own people not even his father came to visit him. His wife’s people tried to get him our on bail and the bail plea was sanctioned.
Meanwhile some of his friends came to visit him . And they told him that the opposite party is waiting to kill him as soon as he comes out of the prison.. So he decided not to go out but die in the prison itself by taking poison. After spending sometime in counseling him, I got his father’s address. I made one of our volunteers to write a letter to his asking to come and see me . I signed the letter as Sr. Leena . After reading the letter he went to MGM hospital and asked for me showing the letter. Finally someone directed him and his son to our convent. The family is living very good condition. The brothers are working in the Govt. posts. I spoke to them, after all he came to help you in the dispute, During the fight your son happened to kill someone on the opposite party. You and your other sons left the prison on getting bail, leaving this son in the prison.. Now you have to accept him and do whatever you can to save his life. He got his bail sanctioned by his brother in-law.
The father and son did not want this fellow to go to that village , for they also knew the danger for him. Our RMP doctor was released and I went with him along with one of my volunteers. We met the victim family and others who were waiting to finish up our doctor , spoke to them ate with them spent two days in the village and pacified the whole situation. Our RMP is released of all the problems and working in the same place living haply with his family.
Leena Kattookaren fmm
Innocent Suseela saved from prison walls
When I returned after going to other districts for the animation programme, one of my companions told me about a your girl Suseela . I went to the prison immediately. The lady Jawans told me , Madam this girl is falling down unconscious every day at the same time. She was only 13, but wrote her age 18 to keep her in the prison. I called the girl aside and asked her about her life . She had no parents no brothers or sisters. She was kept in a lawyer,s house as a domestic servant. The house maid was an arrogant woman. Her daughter was in my school more or less of the same age of Suseela. For any small mistake she used to scold her and sometimes beat her . A few times cut money from her megure salary. One day the mother scolded her saying that she had taken her Rs. 200/- which she kept on the table. In spite of saying the truth, the woman accused her , called a police and handed over her. The police took her and beat her mercilessly in the police station until she fell unconscious. Since then Suseela was falling on the ground at the same time unconscious and later on come back to life.
The following day I went to the school where the boy was studying . He was a student of 10th class. With the permission of the Headmaster, I met few of his friends and got the news of his birthday celebration few days back. The boy was called by the Headmaster and in his room , I questioned him about the money for the birthday party. First he said, his father gave later on he admitted that he had taken the money from the table without saying to anybody. I thanked H.M. and went to the lawyer. He received me in his office and gave me a good treat. Then I opened the subject. He blamed the girl Suseela for taking money Rs. 200/- I spoke to him about my visit to the school and meeting his son who had taken the money. He could not believe it . The boy was called in front of me and he had to say the truth to his father . The father did not even know that his wife had handed over the girl to police and then to the prison.
Then slowly I asked him, what is the next step? I said to the lawyer, you being a lawyer will know what is the next step. Let her be in the prison, he said. No, I said, you being a lawyer do whatever is to be done and get Suseela out of prison. She is after all is the same age of your daughter studying in my school. I sat and made him to follow the procedure including the surety and got the girl out of prison after two days. I left her under the care of some good nuns and later on got married. I was present for her marriage with some of our volunteers. Today she is the mother of two children having a happy life with her husband.
One day I was walking towards the clock tower to catch a bus to go to my residence in Gunfoundry, Hyderabad . I noticed a fellow looking at me from the auto and asking me to get in . I told him, I am sorry I don’t have enough money to pay for your auto. I could go by bus. He insisted me to get into the auto and finally I got in . He drove me to my destination in Gunfoundry. Before getting out off the auto, I started searching for money to give to him. At last I asked him to wait until I got it from the convent. He asked me, how much will you give me ? I told him Rs. 30/-. He said, Madam you forgot me . I am Ramulu whom you met in the 5th barrack in the prison. One day you told me , ‘ Ramulu, you are a very good fellow and you can do many good things when you are released from the prison. Today Madam, I am doing what you told me eight years ago. I am running this auto and getting my livelihood. I got more interested in his talk and he told me , your thirty Rupees is nothing compared to the life that you have shown me . I had been waiting to see you after my release from the prison. Today the Lord gave me the grace to see you.
He told me the place where he was living with his wife and two children. His children are students of a convent school. I wrote a letter to the Headmistress of that school asking to give free education for his two children. He had to pay back the loan taken to buy the auto also get a small house for the family. When he left, I got into the chapel of our convent and simply shed tears of joy. Lately I happened to meet him . He is very happy and trying to finish up the loan first before thinking of the house. Ramulu, wife and children .. a small family …. A happy family. Praise the Lord !
Ramulu , the second child of the family from a poor family. He was very clever in studies upto class 5th. His father had a great hope on his future. But, he got bad company and lost interest in studies. By the time he reached seventh class , the school authorities chased him out of the school. The father got angry and beat him mercilessly. He left the house and got in the company of picketers and thieves. On one occasion he was caught by police and brought him into the prison. I noticed in him that he was an innocent and very talented fellow. I followed him for few Sundays and left as I got transfer to Hyderabad.
My good friends
Like woman in the Bible I knocked at the door of our Director General to give me permission to visit the Naxalite barrack. At last I got it and established a good relationship with them through my constant visits . There were about 85 men and 32 women naxalites. The men were in a barrack for their own. The women were along with the other women with theirmore than half a dozen children. I got admitted five of their children aged between five and seven in different mission schools and hostels.
One Sunday when I went to the prison, the Dy. Supdt. told me to meet Amrutha wife of a naxalite who is innocent in the same prison and speak to her , for she is preganat and the child in the womb should not be affected with her condition.. Well every Sunday I used to spend atleast half an hour speaking to her. One day I got a call from Dy. Supdt saying that Vanaja is taken to the hospital. I left everything and rushed to the hospital. By the time she was already taken to the labour room. Within ten minutes I heard the cry of the baby and with the permission of the nurse I went inside and took the child in my hand. Since then every Sunday I used to carry and pet the child, a lovely boy.
It is a custom in Andhra to celebrate the 21 day of the birth of the child. On that day the family prepare a function to give the name to the child and place the child in the cradle The lady Jawans asked me to do the same ceremony for the new born baby. I asked permission from the Supdt. , but he refused . Again I spoke to him pros and cons of the ceremony conducted in the prison, finally he gave permission. The cradle ceremony day was fixed. With the permission of our DG . I invited the judge from the court, Magistrate, doctor from the M.G.M. hospital and a few advocates, who were the parents and grandparents of my students. A bus load of teachers and students reached with the new dresses for the parents and presents for the baby. I had already asked the Supdt. to allow the father of the baby to be called for the function.
The function started with singing by my students and gave the new dresses to the parents. I had to give the name to the baby, Supdt. Said. I asked my Hindu teachers and they said, Krishna was born in the prison, so we give the name Krishna Kanth. I called out the name loudly and one of my teachers laid the baby in the cradle.Next was distribution of home-made sweets prepared in the prison kitchen itself. After that I asked the father of the baby to tell us , how he became a naxalite. He explained the whole story which led him to be a naxalite and by the time he was caught by police with his wife, he got involved in 13 murder cases. The father Sree Kanth studied upto x class. He was the eldest in the family. The father was only a pune in a private bank having very megure income . Sree Kanth went in search of a job the whole day and comes back home to get scolding from his father. He had three sisters younger to him at home. Finally one day he left the house at night . While sleeping on the verandah of a shop a few youngsters approached him, heard his pathetic story and took him to underground. Once you are in the gang you have to do what ever the leaders tell you. This got involved in the murder cases.
While taking his pregnant wife to a doctor at 4.30. a.m. , both were caught by police and put them in the prison. Then I spoke to the assembly my opinion. It is because of unemployment, poverty, dispute are some of the reasons for all these, hence I requested the eminent members to begin to do something for these problems. Well Sree Kanth and Amrutha with their baby got released before the time of punishment . Praise the Lord !