[Last week Tr Parthasarathy of SIF-Hyd has told us about his unique prison experience and a unique thought on prisons. Today in his candid style he talks about a SIF-Hyd initiative ‘Selfie In Prison’.
This article marks a confluence of an existing series ‘My Caged Life‘ and a brand new series on this website, ‘The Causal Affair‘ under the category Men’s Rights. In this new series different NGO leads share their experiences of unique initiatives taken for men.
All stories under ‘My Caged Life’ can be seen here.
All articles under ‘The Causal Affair‘ can be seen here.
All articles on such unique initiatives can be shared with us using ‘Contact Me‘ section of this website]
A prison has a negative connotation in popular mindset. However, history, myth and literature are full of examples of the relationship between innocence and prisons and the consequent triumph of good over evil.
In Indian mythology, Lord Sri Krishna was born to his parents Devaki and Vasudev who were kept in prison by Devaki’s brother Kamsa, who in his cruelty, bloodlust and insecurity killed six of Devaki’s previous children. Sri Krishna’s birthplace is celebrated as Sri Krishna Janmasthaanam even today and is symbolized as the beginning of the end of evil.
The Freedom struggle for India also saw thousands of men, women and children court British imprisonment for years till the eventual Independence. Mahatma Gandhi understood the power of courting prison and went to jail for 13 times, Veer Savarkar spent 10 years in prison along with others.
History is full of brave people like Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison and became a symbol of hope and courage to an oppressed world.
Literature has many mentions of characters who spent lifetimes in prison –Papillon & The Count of Monte Cristo give detailed accounts of prison life from the eyes of innocent men.
IMDb (Internet Movie Database) even today lists the movie of the-innocent-man-in-prison-story –The Shawshank Redemption, voted number one in it’s Top 250 Charts
The story of Bhakta Ramdasu is of a man from the 17th century whose devotion to the Lord Sri Rama led him to the now famous prison in Golkonda Fort in Hyderabad and his subsequent release with the intervention of Sri Rama himself.
Faith, devotion, hope, innocence- all tested by prison –
In this context, a prison need not always have a negative image; prison authorities need not always be Human Rights abusers; the judiciary and police who send men to jail so easily need not always be biased. Every man has the right to choose the path of jail or bail, and in case he gets to go to jail, it need not reflect on his morality and in case he gets bail it need not reflect on his courage.
On the occasion of Sri Krishna Janmashtami, 5th September 2015, the birthday of Lord Krishna, the protector of justice and giver of eternal knowledge of dispassionate duty. SIF-HYD planned a visit to CENTRAL PRISON, Hyderabad to commemorate the mythological birthplace of Lord Krishna. However due to delays in representation, we decided to celebrate the day at Bhakta Ramadasu Prison at Golkonda Fort, Hyderabad as the Prison Experience Day and also to propagate the message via the twitter hash-tag #SelfieInPrison
Explaining the importance of this activity Uma Challa, an activist from SIF-Hyd has said –
“We are doing #SelfieInPrison campaign because..Imprisonment or Judicial custody is not to be taken as insult or humiliation. It could also be an inspirational or transformational experience. Since 20 years women-centric laws, dowry laws, Domestic Violence Laws, Rape or Sexual Harrassment laws have been used to trap men and their families and torturing them has become an industry. In these cases, people are first arrested and thrown into jails without any proof of crime. This is facilitated by these laws. Because of these, men in their prime or retiring seniors in their twilight years, infants, children are been to jail.
So we are trying to send out a message that there is no need to feel ashamed of yourselves if you went to jail. Statistics of 2013 will show that on account of women-centric laws, more than 3.9 lakh people were sent to jail. out of that only 3.86% only were convicted. Upto 73% people are still languishing in jails as undertrials, and they are there, not because they would tamper with evidence, or because they have been convicted for any crime, but some of them cannot get bail, or do not even know there is a provision such as bail.”
On this day, people are encouraged to send in their selfie pics from behind bars (not pubs 🙂 ) hash-tagged and posted on twitter and Facebook and send in their own prison experiences to remove the negative connotation of prisons in popular culture.
The real prison is in the confines of our own minds, in our fears and our prejudices
His twitter handle is @tr_partha