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DON BOSCO IN JAIL
By Tapan Haldar
Kolkata, Jul. 10. It is no surprise... after all he had been there before, for the sake of his boys. That was exactly what happened at 2.30 PM on 9th July, 2011 in Berhampore Central Jail, West Bengal.
After the initial formalities as registering the names of the visitors and signing the documents were over, Don Bosco moved into the prison with a group of Salesians, video crew and the foreign guests.

We were greeted with lively music by Don Bosco Band, whose members all convicts, were trained to blow the trumpets in the prison itself, by the Salesian prison ministry gang.

The dignitaries lit the lamp namely, Sri Biplob Dasgupta the Deputy Inspector General of Prisons, Sri Binod Kumar Singh the Chief Controller, Sri Navin Kumar Kujur the Chief Controller II, Rev. Fr. Thomas Ellicherail the Provincial, Smt Saraswati Rai, Fr. Albert Thottunkal the Rector, Fr. Scaria Nedumattathil the Director of Prison Ministry, Fr. Francis Thathenkery the Deputy Director Don Bosco Prison Ministry and Sri Subhodip Mukherjee the Welfare Officer. Later, an arati was performed by the children of the prison, to the accompaniment of a song to Don Bosco.

Initially, there was an air of apprehension as the guests entered the highly secured premises, but as Sri Biplob Dasgupta welcomed the guests everyone felt at home. Among other speakers, Fr. Thomas addressed a few words to all saying, ''Don Bosco was a man who stood for the cause of justice and established an educational system by which the young would never have to go to such a place.''

The most touching moment of the visit was when Budhudev Mete, a convict composed a song for the occasion and rendered it in classical style. The soloist was in a delirium, as tears welled up in his eyes. Kausik Chatterjee, another convict accompanied him on the tabla, while rest of the convicts paid homage to Don Bosco.

Unfortunately, due to an emergency situation in the prison campus after the collapse of a 105 metre prison wall, the function could not be held in Don Bosco Vocational Training Centre and all could not be present.

Although the visit took only forty minutes, Don Bosco made a deep impression on all present. The convicts were indeed blessed to have seen Don Bosco inside their own campus, which many others outside longed o to see, and possibly which never, ever will be realized!

In the meantime a large crowd had already gathered in front of the Church of Mary Help of Christians at Berhampore. At 3.30 PM Don Bosco was ushered in the spacious church where Rt. Rev. Joseph Gomes, the bishop of Krishnagar presided over the Eucharist along with ten concelebrants.

After the Eucharist, homage was paid to Don Bosco in the Church itself through prayerful dances, touching the ethos of the viewers as they were painted in local colour. The hosts, despite their eyes closing in heavy slumber, were on night vigil around their Father - indeed true sons of Don Bosco!
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