Indian prisoner, 98, receives heartwarming farewell from his jailers

Ram Surat was handed cash and sweets by prison staff, who had grown fond of their oldest inmate

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A 98-year-old man was given a surprise farewell by prison staff in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh.

Ram Surat was jailed for four years in 2019 for trespass, assault and voluntarily causing hurt.

He was set to be released from prison in Ayodhya in August last year but that was delayed when he became infected with Covid-19.

But on January 6, Mr Surat, an ascetic, eventually walked out of the jail.

There was no one to pick him up, so prison superintendent Shashikant Mishra arranged for a car to take him to a temple at an ashram, or Hindu monastery.

He also offered him a garland, sweets and money on behalf of prison staff, who had become fond of their oldest inmate.

Ram Surat, 98, after his release from a four-year jail term. Taniya Dutta / The National

“To help prisoners and their rehabilitation is my passion,” Mr Mishra told The National. “He is not married, has no family or children but we wanted him to go home safely.”

The state’s top officer for prisons shared a video of the heartwarming moment, showing the nonagenarian shaking as he receives the cash and sweets while Mr Mishra informs him that the jail staff will drop him off.

The video has been viewed more than 30,000 times.

Mr Mishra said Mr Surat embraced a monasterial life at the age of five and had always lived at an ashram.

He was a disciple of one of the prominent ashrams in Ayodhya and had travelled to London with other monks in the 1970s.

Eight years ago, he became embroiled in a criminal case after trespassing into a politician’s house.

“He told us that he jumped off a 20-foot wall,” Mr Mishra said. “The judge sent him to prison in 2019. He had to give a fine of 500 rupees ($6). It is not clear what was the motive.”

Updated: January 09, 2023, 2:43 PM