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Catholic volunteers impress jail officials

June 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Assam, India, Persecution

I was in prison & you came to visit me - Mt. 25:36A senior official at a jail in the northeast of the country says he would join the Catholic prison ministry after seeing the “benevolent” work of its volunteers.

“What prison ministry volunteers do is quite bold and I appreciate their benevolence,” says P. K. Saikia, superintendent of Guwahati’s federal prison.

He told a group of visiting prison ministry volunteers that he only came to realize how much they worked for prisoners’ welfare last January when they invited him to address their regional meeting.

Saikia said it gave him the opportunity to read the ministry’s aims and objectives.

Convinced of the volunteers’ impact on prisoners, he sought permission from the Inspector General of Assam for the volunteers to visit the prison four times a month instead of just once.

Saikia said he would like to join the prison ministry after his retirement and give the movement a boost in northeastern India.

“I am sure the ministry can also do well in other states in the region, he added.

Saikia said his current task is “very different” and tough as Guwahati prison houses top terrorist leaders as well as petty thieves.

He said frequent visits would help volunteers understand prisoners better.

“If we take steps according to the needs of the inmates we will be able to reach our desired goal,” added Saikia, who has spent 30 years as a prison official.

He says only around 200 of the 783 convicts in Guwahati prison are truly criminal at heart. “Others are forced into crime. Money can do anything,” he lamented.


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