Afroz Khan Pathan, serving a life sentence in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case, has topped the Gandhi Peace Examination, in which 83 other inmates of Taloja Jail in neighbouring Thane district, appeared.
Eight-four inmates of the jail, most of them undertrials, wrote the exam, which tests awareness about Gandhian principles and values. The exam was conducted in the jail last week by Mumbai Sarvodaya Mandal, a trust which propagates values of the Father of the Nation.
Of these 84 inmates, six are lodged in egg-shaped high security unit (known as ‘anda’ cell) and facing serious criminal charges. One of them is a Nigerian.
The inmates were given prizes at a a brief ceremony, said the Mandal’s Managing Trustee Tulsidas Somaiya.
Pathan, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment last year, stood first with 71 out of total 80 marks, he said.
“After the examination and getting prize, Pathan was overwhelmed. In his feedback, he wrote that thoughts and beliefs of Mahatma Gandhi regarding truth, ahimsa, tolerance and doing good to the enemy influenced him the most.
“Pathan said he is following these principles after reading Gandhi’s autobiography and vowed to adhere to them in rest of his life,” Mr. Somaiya said.
Set up in 1952 during the ‘bhoodan andolan’ (land gift movement) of Acharya Vinoba Bhave, the Trust has been engaged in programmes to spread the message of Gandhi by holding seminars, workshops, meetings and youth camps.
The Mandal has been organising the examination since the last 12 years in various jails of Maharashtra.
“The aim of the examination is to invoke a sense of regret in jail inmates (about their crimes) and inculcate qualities of satya (truth) and ahimsa (non-violence) so that they become better citizens after their release,” Mr. Somaiya added.