In Life After Jail, Holi Brings Colours Of Change

NEW DELHI:  Pink. Blue. Green. For visually challenged Rajender Gupta, colours don't exactly conjure the hues they do for most, but that doesn't stop him from partaking in the festival.

For the 47-year-old, who served nearly five years in prison before being acquitted of rape charges, the skill of making herbal colours that he learnt in jail has come in handy this Holi.

"I started doing this in jail in 2011 and I couldn't think I could do this work. I feel very happy when things made from my hands are received by people," said Rajender.

For over 20 years now Antarkranti, a programme started by an NGO Divya Jyoti Jagaran Sansthan, has been striving to empower prisoners with skills that will help them when they walk out of jail.

Started in 2005, Festivals of India is one of the initiatives under the program where both men and women prisoners in 40 jails across the country are encouraged to make rakhis, candles, and Holi colours before festivals.

So far, close to 60,000 prisoners have been rehabilitated by Antarkranti.

Vipin, a former prisoner, said, "People from the jail are not accepted easily by the society neither do we get work. They think that we are criminals and they may fall back on crimes again."

Sadhvi Jaya, who is the facilitator of the program, said, "Not everybody dies in the jail almost 99 per cent of the people come out of jail. So how do we want them to return - as reformed and productive citizens or as worsened criminals? The biggest challenge in India is not into rehabilitation but post release social reintegration."