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Past tense,future perfect: World outside Tihar beckons 6-yr-old

This six-year-old’s world till date was his life inside Tihar Jail. Here,he was the only child who was living with his father.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi |
March 18, 2009 11:31:03 pm

Social welfare department to look after the upbringing and education of undertrial’s son staying in the jail since February 2007

This six-year-old’s world till date was his life inside Tihar Jail. Here,he was the only child who was living with his father. Courtesy a court order and an initiative by the jail superintendent,his life is going to change; and the authorities promise it will be for the better.

Little Sameer (name changed) is all set to cross the formidable iron gates of the high-security prison and get formal education like other children of his age. With the social welfare department taking up the responsibility of looking after his upbringing and education,he will soon part with the company of his father,who is standing trial in a criminal case,and his “uncles” inside the prison.

Sameer has been staying with his undertrial father,Sonu,since February 2007 after his mother walked out of their lives.

With jail officials realising that a growing Sameer should get out of the “shadow” of prisoners and make a life for himself,the superintendent of Jail Number 1 moved an application before Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Inderjeet Singh last week,seeking a direction to get the boy admitted in school.

The court liked the idea,but when it asked Sonu’s opinion the latter expressed reservations about his son’s future in the hands of government officials and fears about facing problems in meeting his child. Sonu sought some time from the court to decide on this,saying it would be “very difficult” for him to send his son away knowing he had nobody else to call his own.

The ASJ gave him a couple of days to think over the matter,simultaneously asking the jail superintendent to submit a report allaying Sonu’s fears.

On Tuesday,the superintendent submitted a report,assuring the court and Sonu of a proper upbringing of Sameer. The report underlined the necessity of the child to come out of the present setup so that he could be brought up like a normal child in a safe and secure surrounding.

“The welfare of the child will be looked into from all angles and his father will be permitted to meet him once or twice a month in a manner prescribed by the authorities concerned,” reads the report.

The judge read out the report to Sonu and dragged his attention towards Sameer’s welfare. He made Sonu understand that it was in the best interests of the child to leave Tihar.

“You also want the best for your son. While you are in custody,the best thing for him is to go out and see the real world so that he becomes someone you can be proud of,” the judge told him.

After sustained counselling by the ASJ,Sonu agreed. He was in tears as he clutched Sameer to his chest and said he was okay with the arrangement.

Newsline had in June 2008 first brought Sameer’s story to light. On Tuesday,Tihar’s Law Officer Sunil Gupta said Sameer would soon be sent to a welfare home.

“According to the jail manual,we cannot allow children to remain with their parents inside the prison after a certain age.

Moreover,a child must go out and get opportunities like anyone else,” Gupta added.

In 2007,the court had allowed Sameer to stay with his father on “humanitarian grounds”. Since then,Tihar has been home for the boy. Several voluntary organisations have also donated him clothes and toys over the months.

Sameer received his primary education from his father’s fellow prisoners whom he calls uncles and who meticulously taught him alphabets and numbers and even told him fairy tales.

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