A toddler who plays with his gullak (piggy bank) that has always been empty (he can keep the piggy bank in jail, but not coins), a little girl who wakes up in the night to ask if she has a grandmother, a woman who has written poems in the memory of her daughter who the court believes, she murdered — these are some of the inmates you meet in prison reform activist Vartika Nanda’s book Tinka Tinka Dasna.
Each of them have stories to share. Stories that contain the heart-wrenching wail of indefinable sorrow, stories of courage and triumph over tears, ones that make you wonder how a twist of fate can turn your world upside down. “Once imprisoned, a person becomes a number, a mere addition to the list of inmates. His dismal life doesn’t interest outsiders. All prisoners may have not necessarily committed the alleged crime. This is an attempt to get their voices heard,” says Nanda.
The book is not only a poignant description of prisons life but also calls for a compassionate approach towards prisoners. “Our legal system often works in a supercilious manner and it is not above the vice of corruption. I hope this book helps us adopt a humane approach,” says Nanda who heads the journalism department of Lady Shri Ram College. The book also includes poems by dentist Nupur Talwar, dedicated to Aarushi Talwar, her teenage daughter who was murdered in May 2008. Nupur was sentenced to life-term along with husband Rajesh Talwar, after an Uttar Pradesh court held them guilty of murdering Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj.
“I hope this book helps us adopt a humanitarian approach towards prisoners and get their voices heard” , says Vartika Nanda, prison reforms activist
“Prisoners face undefinable anguish. This book calls for a change in our outlook towards them”, says Sardar Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Jail Minister, Uttar Pradesh.
“We want to instill creativity in inmates. It’s laudable that Vartika Nanda has involved inmates in writing the book”, says S. P Yadav, Senior Superintendent, Dasna.