Patna. Freelance journalist Rupesh Kumar Singh, who is currently lodged in Patna's Beur Jail, appeared for his Master's examination earlier this week. The examination, organized by IGNOU, initially had Rupesh's examination center at Gossner College, Ranchi. However, officials from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) argued that it would be unsafe to transport Rupesh from Patna to Ranchi and keep him there for four consecutive days of the examination. They also stated their inability to cover the expenses for his transportation and accommodation. Following these arguments, the court ordered arrangements to be made for Rupesh to take the exam from the jail itself.
Ipsa Satakshi, Rupesh Kumar Singh's wife, explains the significance of inmates appearing for exams from jails. She believes that these examinations serve a dual purpose by providing educational opportunities to inmates and facilitating their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. By allowing inmates to pursue academic and vocational qualifications, these exams play a crucial role in their personal development and contribute to reducing recidivism rates. Rupesh wanted to take the exam from jail to highlight the importance of such exams, exploring their benefits for inmates, the challenges they face, and the positive impact they have on society.
According to Ipsa, examinations conducted in jails offer inmates the chance to break the cycle of crime by equipping them with skills and knowledge. Engaging in educational pursuits gives inmates a sense of purpose and hope for a better future. These exams provide opportunities for inmates to earn diplomas, degrees, or vocational certificates, enhancing their prospects of securing employment upon release. Education empowers inmates, fosters critical thinking, promotes personal growth, boosts self-esteem, and reduces the likelihood of reoffending. Furthermore, examinations allow inmates to demonstrate their commitment to self-improvement and personal transformation, facilitating their reconnection with society. This is why Rupesh wanted to take the exam alongside approximately 5,500 inmates in the jail.
Ipsa elaborates on the reasons behind Rupesh's decision to appear for the exam from jail. Academic involvement provides jailed inmates with valuable skills and qualifications that enhance their employability upon release. Education offers vocational training, job-related knowledge, and practical skills relevant to today's job market. Vocational courses enable inmates to learn trades such as carpentry, plumbing, computer programming, or culinary arts, enabling them to acquire industry-specific skills. Academic qualifications, such as high school diplomas or college degrees, improve their chances of securing meaningful employment and accessing better career opportunities. Employers are more likely to consider hiring individuals who have actively engaged in educational pursuits during their incarceration, as it demonstrates a commitment to personal growth and self-improvement.
One of the primary goals of involving jailed inmates in academia is to reduce recidivism rates. Numerous studies consistently show that education plays a vital role in breaking the cycle of criminal behavior. By providing educational opportunities, inmates develop the necessary skills, knowledge, and self-discipline to make positive choices upon release. Education fosters critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and a deeper understanding of the consequences of one's actions.
Inmates who engage in academia are more likely to gain a sense of purpose and develop prosocial behaviors. By empowering incarcerated individuals through education, there is a higher chance of successful reintegration into society, ultimately reducing the likelihood of reoffending and contributing to safer communities. Rupesh, known for his social work since his student days and as a journalist who raised the voice of the oppressed and tribals, now aims to become the voice of prisoners who aspire to study even while in jail.
Ipsa also acknowledges that conducting examinations in jails presents unique challenges that require careful consideration. Security concerns, logistical constraints, and limited resources often complicate the organization and administration of exams within correctional facilities. Creating a conducive environment that ensures fairness and prevents cheating can be a significant challenge. Additionally, inmates may face difficulties in accessing study materials and have limited time and support to prepare adequately. Overcoming these obstacles requires collaboration between correctional authorities, educational institutions, and other stakeholders to develop efficient examination protocols and provide the necessary resources to incarcerated individuals.
However, despite the challenges involved, examinations conducted within jails are a vital tool for inmate rehabilitation and reintegration. By providing educational opportunities and qualifications, these exams empower inmates, foster personal growth, and reduce recidivism rates. Recognizing the positive impact on society and overcoming the challenges is crucial to harnessing the potential of examinations from jails for a more inclusive and just future.
Last year, both Rupesh and his wife applied for Masters from IGNOU. Rupesh was admitted to the MA History program, while Ipsa pursued MA in Journalism. Rupesh completed his graduation in History in 2006 from Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University (TMBU) and his Master's in Gandhian Thought in 2012, also from TMBU. On Monday morning, both Rupesh and Ipsa appeared for their Master's exams, with Ipsa taking hers at Ranchi's Gossner college.
Rupesh Kumar Singh gained significant attention in 2021 when his name appeared on a list of individuals worldwide whose mobile devices were compromised by the Pegasus spyware. Among the approximately 300 Indians listed, 40 were journalists and activists. Notably, Rupesh was the first Hindi journalist to be identified on this list.
Rupesh has been in custody since July 17, 2022. On April 9, NIA special judge Gurvinder Singh ordered Rupesh to be held in judicial custody until May 1. The NIA investigation revolves around an alleged incident on April 12, 2022, in which Maoist leaders Vijay Kumar Arya, Rajesh Gupta, Umesh Chaudhary, Anil Yadav, a man named Rupesh, and several unidentified individuals gathered in Samhuta village under the Rohtas police station. Their objective was to collect funds for the banned organization CPI (Maoist) and recruit new members, promoting Maoist activities.
(Author is an independent journalist)