Inheritance of loss: Kids of prison moms stare at bleak future  

Bhubaneswar: Some are living under the duress of forced separation from their mothers while others are languishing within the dark confines of prison walls staring at an uncertain future. For dozens of children, from two months to five years old, this sordid present only portends a bleak future.

Consider the example of an undertrail woman prisoner from Bisoi area in Mayurbhanj who is lodged in Rairangpur Sub-jail for allegedly hacking her husband to death in 2016. On one hand while she is living a life full of repentance within the prison walls with one little kid, her other girl child lives separately.

Such cases are not hard to find. As per RTI data, at present there are 46 children between the age of 2 months and 6 years who are living lives of desperation and desolation, some away from their mothers while some in jail.

Sources said as many as 36 children are presently living inside jails with their undertrial mothers.

Jail officials claim that they try to make sure that the children who stay with their inmate mothers are provided facilities for their well being.

“At present we are imparting them primary education with help of other officials present inside the jail. We are also making arrangements to send the children to hostels for better education,” said Rairangpur Sub-jail Superintendent, Sanatan Singh.

Child rights activists and experts have raised concerns over the scenario and said that it is a blatant violation of model prison manual if these children are being deprived of care and attention.

“Children who have no other option but to stay inside the jail should get special food, leisure activities, health, education facilities, but at present they are being deprived of such rights,” said Human Rights activist, Biswapriya Kanungo.

Former jail authorities have also come forward to seek government’s intervention in the matter.

“What will such kids learn other than watching their mothers and other inmates inside the jail premises? If other people also come forward to help rescue the kids then we can improve their lives,” former DIG (Prisons), Golak Bihari Mohanty said.

CWC member, Benudhar Senapati said “We will definitely try to take this matter forward so that the children living lives in such suffering can be rescued and brought into the purview of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). We will write to the jail superintendents and if necessary we will also seek District Child Protection Officer (DCPO)’s assistance in the matter.”