Friday, February 25, 2011

'Campus placement' at Tihar, 14 get jobs :: New Delhi

It was a special campus placement session. Eight companies came calling and interviewed 46 candidates. Fourteen were given job offers while the rest hope to make the cut in the next couple of days. What's special about that? Well, the 'campus' was Delhi's Tihar jail and the candidates inmates serving time there.

At the end of the day, what the lucky 14 held in their hands weren't just job letters — they were tickets to a new life of dignity.

"This is not just an appointment letter. It is an assurance of a rehabilitated life in society which would have otherwise maybe shunned me. I can now hope for a speedy acquittal by sending this letter to the court to convince them to acquit me soon. I can assure my wife and children of a decent life in Delhi," said 40-year-old Sandeep Bhatnagar, an undertrial in Tihar for the past five years. Bhatnagar is accused of dressing up as a "human bomb" and conducting a bank robbery in Vikaspuri in May 2006.

Said Neeraj Kumar, DG (Prisons), "These 46 inmates were chosen for placement as they fulfilled three criteria. They had impeccable conduct inside the jail where they utilized their time to gain education and vocational skills. Two, they all expect to be released within a year or so, and three, they were keen to rehabilitate themselves and lead a new life."

"We are expecting 100% placement. The rest should be given letters in the next couple of days," said Tihar law officer Sunil Gupta. Among the companies which agreed to be part of this exceptional recruitment drive was Agarwal Packers and Movers, one of the country's largest companies in their field.

Many of the inmates who sat for placement have completed their education — from schooling to multiple graduation degrees — in jail. "After I was sent to jail, it was a painful and stressful time for me as I had no clue what to do next. However, I was motivated inside the jail by officials and NGOs. I studied day and night to finish 10 years of education in five years. Now I am assisting a Supreme Court lawyer Michael Peter and preparing for civil services. Michael fought my case and has been a great help," said 26-year-old Dilip Kumar, who was booked under narcotics Act in 2005.

Dilip came to Delhi from Madhubani in Bihar as a youth who had studied up to Class V. He worked as a sub-contractor at a parking site in Sarojini Nagar when he was arrested. Now acquitted after fighting the case as an undertrial for years, he is about to complete his Bachelors in Tourism Studies from IGNOU and is planning to pursue LLB. He was one of the 46 inmates who were up for placement on Friday.

The action started around 11am at jail number 3 of Tihar. The excitement was palpable. "I am extremely nervous. I am willing to take any type of job offer I get and this placement drive may just help me regain some of the acceptance and prestige that I lost after coming to jail," said 23-year-old Gaijaomei George Kamei.

George is undergoing trial for criminal conspiracy for murder. He was the first inmate to be given an appointment letter — as a research assistant for JRA & Associates. He also received an offer to be a marketing associate for ASP Sealing Products. "Two years in jail have taught me to be careful and not make rash decisions. I will weigh both options and decide," he said, beaming.

Siddharth Bhatnagar, 29, an undertrial for murder, was offered a marketing executive position.

While Agarwal Packers and Movers picked up seven inmates for positions such as marketing executive, assistant manager, supervisor and data entry operator, Vedanta Foundation and Good House Keeping recruited two inmates each. JRA & Associates and ASP Sealing products made an offer each.


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