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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Pune: After 7 years’ jail for culpable homicide, barber begins new life, sets up salon

Santosh Atkar, 40, came to Yerawada Central Prison in 2016 after he was prosecuted for culpable homicide of his wife in December 2013. Atkar had hit his wife during an argument at their house in Pandharpur town of Solapur district.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: September 22, 2021 3:48:06 pm
ADGP Atulchandra Kulkarni (first from left) inaugurates the salon by (first from right) Santosh Atkar, at the Prison Department HQ at Central Building on Tuesday. (Photo: Arul Horizon)

A barber from Pandharpur, who was sentenced for culpable homicide of his wife in 2016 and completed his prison term at Yerawada Prison in Pune, is embarking on a new chapter in his life, with some help from the state Prison Department and Pune-based NGOs, who are helping him start a salon in Sangli.

Santosh Atkar, 40, came to Yerawada Central Prison in 2016 after he was prosecuted for culpable homicide of his wife in December 2013. Atkar had hit his wife during an argument at their house in Pandharpur town of Solapur district. She succumbed to her injuries seven days later and he was arrested on charges of culpable homicide. Since his arrest till the conviction in the case in July 2016, Atkar was lodged at the sub-jail in Pandharpur. He was moved to Yerawada Central Prison after sentencing.

Atkar has now started a salon in Jat town, where he will be living with his sister’s family. For this new chapter in his life, he has received support from Project Prernapath — a welfare initiative of the state Prison Department and NGOs Bhoi Pratishthan and Adarsh Mitra Mandal.

“In prison, most people I interacted with had remorse about their lives. I have realised that I can’t erase my past but I can certainly leave it behind and move on. I learnt in prison that living by all the laid down rules was key to the path to reform. Prison also gave me the opportunity to read a lot. I spent a lot of time in the prison library and read biographies and autobiographies of many great people. In the beginning of 2021, I was shifted to Yerawada open prison because of good behaviour. I completed my sentence in June. Bhoi Pratishthan had been holding various programmes for inmates and I have known Milind Bhoi since then. After I was shifted to the open prison, we discussed possibilities of what I can do after I am released,” says Atkar, who ran a salon in Pandharpur before his arrest.

“After my arrest, my shop was demolished in an anti-encroachment drive. But I didn’t give up my profession even when I was in prison. Along with my assigned duties of gardening and cleaning, I have been working in the prison salon, giving haircuts. The Prison Department, Bhoi Pratishtan and Adarsh Mitra Mandal have helped me in getting the cutting salon chair, other instruments and equipment and they are also going to help with the rent of the shop in Jat for the first three months. I will remain indebted to all of them. But this gesture has also put a great responsibility on my shoulders.” Atkar says.

The symbolic inauguration of the salon was recently held at the Prison Department’s headquarters in Pune, where the instruments and equipment were handed over to him in the presence of Prison Department head, Additional Director General of Police Atulchandra Kulkarni.

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“One of the key responsibilities of prisons is reform. The inmates are always keen on joining the mainstream in society and if the right assistance is extended to them, we will stay true to our motto of ‘Reformation and Rehabilitation,” Kulkarni said after the inauguration.

Atkar says he has named his shop Prernapath.

“What better name can be given to this project, than something that means the path of inspiration. I pray that many other deserving prisoners get such support after they are released,” he says.

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