G Yellappa, a resident of Doddaballapur was only 23 when he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2004, after a cricket brawl in his locality ended in a person’s death. And while it was common for inmates his age to slip into depression, the young man decided to turn his life around, behind prison doors through education.
While this is no attempt at glorifying a heinous crime that resulted into somebody’s death, the fact that ‘education’ has the power and can prove to be the only chance for inmates at a dignified life needs to be shed light upon.
Yellappa, now 35, had dropped out of school in Grade 7, but his time in prison gave him the chance to reflect and reevaluate the decisions he had made. It was at the time that he decided to get back to studying. In the following years, he successfully completed his Bachelor’s degree in Arts, and a Postgraduate degree in Journalism and Public Administration. All thanks to the distance learning courses at Bangalore University and Karnataka State Open University that are transforming the lives of prison inmates through education.
Yellappa’s story has the power to inspire many other persons in conflict with the law and prisoners to turn to education, believes the Bangalore University. And to help Yellappa inspire many such people, the university wants him to join a panel with three others on AIR Bengaluru (Bengaluru Akashavani) to share his story.
For the same, the University has requested and sought permission from the authorities at Parapanna Agrahara Central Prison, where Yellappa is serving to see if arrangements could be made to take him to Bengaluru Akashavani for an interview.
He is currently writing a book chronicling his prison experiences, the impact of officials in the reformation of prisoners serving life sentences, public administration in prisons, and stories from prisons across the state, reported the Bangalore Mirror.
The existing distance education courses in prisons had come to an abrupt halt in 2015, due to lack of candidates deciding to sign up. But a recent request from the prison authorities to reinstate a higher education cell last month, led to the Bangalore University distance education authorities, paying a visit to the jail.
It was at the time that the university authorities were moved by Yellappa’s story and impressed with his achievements as somebody benefitting from education even behind bars. This strengthened their resolve to make higher education accessible in the lives of other prisoners too.
While the decision on the request to allow Yellappa to travel for the interview has not been made, a prison source told the publication, “Such requests are rare. If the department brass allows it, it will be a first such feat. Though the manual bars any interviews, this is a special case and the chief superintendent may allow it because it will encourage other lifers to take the path of reformation.”