Music helps elevate spirits of Cuddalore Prison inmates

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Inmates of Cuddalore Central Prison in Tamil Nadu take to music to beat the blues. Video Credit: Special Arrangement

For the past few months, the long corridors behind the fortified walls of the Cuddalore Central Prison at Keppar Malai have been reverberating with the sound of music. As many as 15 life convicts behind bars have taken to music to beat the blues.

A room has been dedicated for music-related activities at the prison complex. With a variety of musical instruments including a keyboard, tabla, violin, guitar and flute available, the 15 inmates who are proficient in singing and interested in playing the instruments are now able to indulge in their interests. The brain behind this initiative is Director-General of Police, Prison and Correctional Services Amaresh Pujari.

An inmates of the Cuddalore Central Prison in Keppar Malai singing at a music session in the prison complex.

An inmates of the Cuddalore Central Prison in Keppar Malai singing at a music session in the prison complex. , Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

According to a senior Prison Department official, “Over the years, the prison authorities have focused on imparting skills to the inmates to make them employable and facilitate their merger with the mainstream workforce upon their release. A few Central Prisons including Puzhal in Chennai and the Coimbatore Central Prison have introduced music classes for inmates and the initiative was launched in Cuddalore too,” he said.

“As many as 15 life convicts evinced interest and special music classes were organized in Chennai and Coimbatore to train the inmates in singing and playing instruments. Music helps in overcoming frustration and anger and helps the convicts de-stress. The idea is to rehabilitate the prisoners by bringing out their hidden talent to help them re-integrate into society. They could also join a music troupe once they are released,” he added.

The vocational skill development program in the Cuddalore Central Prison has helped hundreds of inmates to become carpenters, tailors and bakers. Apart from this, several inmates are involved in growing fruits and vegetables on the sprawling prison complex, the official said.

The prison was witness to a musical concert by the inmates during the Independence Day celebrations recently. The convicts rendered various soul-stirring melodies of the maestro Ilayaraja and the audience was left mesmerized.

Music has been documented in helping with the recovery of several mental illnesses. The inmates, officials said are now deeply involved in their musical pursuits. They have also been imparting their skills to other inmates, he added.

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