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Professional - Inspector General of Prisons

Murder to Meditation
( 2 December 1993)

    New Delhi, Dec 2. Convicts of murder mouthing words of peace and friendship, unbelievable as it may sound, that was what was witnessed at the Tihar jail this morning when about 70 convicts spoke about divine experiences after completing nine days of meditation and silence.
    About 106 persons, including 37 from the prison staff, participated in the nine-day ‘maitri’ session which was presided over by the former Home Secretary of Rajasthan, Mr Ram Singh.
    According to the IG (Prisons), Ms Kiran Bedi, nobody was allowed to disturb the meditation course which was conducted in a special enclosure with cells for the participants to stay in. The food was also cooked and shared by the participants inside the enclosure where they were completely isolated, she said.
    The DIG (Prisons), Mr Jaydev Sarangi, said the convicts were chosen at random and that no force was used to make them participate in the course.
    A convict under the NDPS Act, Kishore Devmukhi, said that for the first three days many of the prisoners did not take the meditation seriously but that the persuasion of Acharya Goenka who regularly discoursed in the evening finally persuaded the convicts to observe the strict code of conduct imposed during the course.He said that the Acharya had persuaded them to bring out the layers of bitterness hidden inside each of them through self-meditation. He, however, said that the atmosphere was not too conducive for meditation as they could hear the sounds of loudspeakers — during the poll campaigning. 
    Another convict, Rayfield Wofford from the USA who has been behind bars for the past six-and-a half years said that some of the participants were more serious about the meditation course than others. As for himself, he was under tremendous pressure as his bail application is to come up for hearing in the Delhi High Court next week, he said.
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Inspector General of Police, Chandigarh
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