‘Many women prisoners are accidental criminals. They need someone who can be responsive and extend a helping hand. They are ready to live a good life’
Bangalore: “The world of prisoners is different. Their psychological problems, changing mindset, family issues, education, economy and the associated social stigma kill them daily. Many inmates are first-timers and accidental criminals, many others land in prisons because of lack of legal knowledge, many more are in due to lack of legal assistance. Women prisoners are the worst-affected because of existing social practices. Murtuza becomes Mrutyunjaya after death and gets cremated,” says Faiz Akram Pasha, a young crusader of prisoners’ reforms.
Pasha, in his mid 30s, is crusader of reformation. His Jana Sadbhawana is not an unfamiliar name for thousands of inmates, former criminals and their families. Thus, he has hundreds of emotional mothers and sisters across the state, especially in Bangalore.
Jana Sadbhawana works for maintaining peace and communal harmony, national integrity, and creating a crime-free society. Since this task has been carried out on humanitarian values, Faiz and his organization do not desire any publicity. Hence, lack proper documentation of achievements.
According to Pasha, thousands of youths and inmates were counselled, hundreds of issues solved and about 300 jailbirds from across Karnataka released after legal and financial assistance. Hundreds of families were lent a ‘helping hand’ for education, marriage etc. The funeral of about 80 unclaimed bodies has been conducted so far. “I do it just for the sake of humanity. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) is the role model for me,” asserts Pasha.
“We have volunteers among the prisoners. They are reformed criminals. They admit their crime and felt guilty. But crime is crime whether done intentionally or unintentionally. They don’t want others to commit the same mistakes.” Pasha explains.
“We identify the youth with criminal bent of mind. We approach them, counsel them, try to understand their problems and find solutions. If someone refuses reformation, we approach police,” Pasha adds.
“We present the pros and cons of the crime the likely sufferings of the family as well as the legal and social consequences. We try to solve their issues by arranging mutual consultations,” Pasha adds.
Pasha says counseling at the right time, in prison, and after coming out of prison is very important. Also, addressing their issues and those of their and families, and responding to them is very crucial. Pasha’s organization also identifies the under-trial as well as the convicts who have completed their sentences but the penalty amount is unpaid. It provides necessary psychological, legal and financial assistance.
“Our expert psychologists, trainers and counsellors counsel them and teach anger management and moral education. We make them take oath that they will never think of crime and will be loyal citizens and good human beings,” he elaborated.
Pointing out domestic issues too as major factor for crimes, Pasha says the family system needs to be strengthened. In all such cases women and children are the worst-affected.
Pasha says women prisoners, children and the new-born babies are forced to lead an awful life. Their health is also affected. In this male-dominated society, if a man goes to jail, everybody visits him regularly. But unfortunately women inmates do not get the same treatment, their relatives keep a distance. It’s an injustice. Many women prisoners are accidental criminals. They need someone who can be responsive and extend a helping hand. They are ready to live a good life.
“We have a handful of women volunteers who work among them, irrespective of religion, caste and creed,” Pasha pointed out.
“The late BS Abbai, former DIG (Prisons), showed me a way, made me realize the reality in 2005. He was a great visionary and an advocate of human values. He suggested to me to form a registered organization and named It.” Faiz recalls.
“Being inspired by Abbai, I started visiting the Central Jail at Parappana Agrahara, identified first-time offenders and accidental criminals, and made them feel affection and pleasant atmosphere. Many of them are ‘volunteers of change’ today,” Pasha recalls.
Pasha says the Department of Prisons, headed by Mr. T.H. Lakshmi Narayan, Chief Superintendent, Central Prison, Bangalore, extends all cooperation. “Mr. VS Raja, DIG, Karnataka-Prisons is the patron-in-chief of Jana Sadbhawana. The BJP Government too has allowed us to work in all prisons of the state. We are in touch with the Station House Officers all police stations across the city,” Pasha explained.
“Public participation is very essential to eradicate crime. ‘Safe city and Crime-free State’ campaign needs public participation. We are part of it. We involve local elders and community leaders in solving their domestic or social issues,” he adds.
Faiz and his Jana Sadbhawana are simultaneously engaged in creating awareness among school students on ’23 points’ towards creating ‘Safe city and Crime-free State’.
Lakshminarayana is also praise for Pasha. “He is the real worker and friend of this prison. He has bequeathed his heart to this jail. We can’t even recompense his love to this prison and prisoners. Along-with upholding the unity, he has done varied kinds of aids. He has lifted them up who stumbled. He has eased our future. He has done a great job. We are grateful to him.”
Beyond the confines of prison
Generally, the personal problems of inmates do not come out in the open. A series of problems chase their wives, children in educational, social and economical spheres. Why do they suffer for something they are not responsible for? Let only the criminal suffer,” Pasha says.
“In most cases, the families run out of money as the sole breadwinner remains in jail. They need assistance for health, education and marriages. Our volunteers assist the families of the deceased inmates in finalizing official formalities and funeral rites. Our resources are too little compared to the need,” he continued.
Determination over experiences
Pasha admits he faces a lot of difficulty. “Since we began seven years ago, some established anti-social elements want us to follow their diktat. Else, they warn us of dire consequences, but we are not bothered.”
Pasha adds, “Earlier, crimes were committed accidentally, then they were being planned. Now, intimidation and ‘impressing’ crimes have become the norm. Domestic issues play a crucial role in committing crimes and youngsters fall prey because of drug addiction.”
“We need to orient the talents and potentials of these youth towards constructive purposes. The society should welcome the freed inmates. We should provide them an atmosphere where they get a job, establish business and stand on own feet,” Pasha envisages.
Pasha lives by a simple philosophy, “Mai jee raha hoon, mere saath aur ek ko zindagi doon, mai kha raha hoon, mere saath aur ek ko khilaoon” (I’m living, let me give a life to one more, I have food, let me feed one more).
Having a similar initiative in West Bengal, Pasha dreams of taking the mission to the entire country. He is looking forward for human resources, talents and finance from the like-minded people. To contact Pasha, call 93411-18747, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit: www.janasadbhawana.org
(*The writer is associated with www.newzfirst.com)