A prison is a place where people are legally held as a punishment for their crimes and deprived of certain liberties. So, life in jail is nowhere near normal. The inmates have to do the same thing every day.
Yet, we see a glow on their faces during the festivals, especially Dashain.
As of today, there are 3,073 prisoners in the central jail, and around 2,500 are Nepalis. Foreign prisoners also look relaxed when they see Nepali inmates enjoy themselves. Although life is monotonous here, Dashain brings a semblance of calm as the inmates get to meet their family members for tika and blessings.
At other times, inmates aren’t allowed to meet their family at their preferred time. There is a long process of applying for a meeting. But during Dashain, there are no such restrictions.
Last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, inmates couldn’t meet their friends and family. They were inside the jail following proper health protocols. Prisoners looked disappointed as their most awaited time of the year passed by like any other day.
But things have changed this time. With the relaxing of Covid-19-related restrictions, the inmates will get to meet their families.
Every year, we used to sacrifice goats during Dashain, but we canceled the plan last year. The inmates are again clamoring for the sacrifice this year but the Department of Prison Management is yet to decide on it. The inmates also get an extra Rs 400 in Dashain allowance. With the money, they eat and enjoy themselves.
Moreover, inmates play different indoor games in Dashain. They organize a mini-tournament with the police and there are prizes for the winners. They enjoy the time to the fullest as they get to do it only once a year. Besides the games, they organize debates, oratory, and quizzes.
I have seen them enjoy the festival as I used to do in my childhood. Even if they are here to serve time for their crimes, their enjoyment is pure. As we want to establish our jails as rehabilitation centers, we try to create a healthy environment.
Even in jail, we don’t want the prisoners to feel alone. We try our best to provide all the luxuries that our constitution and law gives them.