Tuan Anathurai Kalimuthu has served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Prison Department, dedicating an impressive 35 years to this vital institution. He retired from the position this month. Throughout his tenure, Tuan Anathurai has undertaken numerous commendable initiatives aimed at positively impacting the lives of Indian prisoners. One notable endeavor involves the creation and distribution of a specialized book containing the syllabus of Hindu Dharma.
This innovative initiative which he started back in 2016, targets the spiritual development of incarcerated individuals by providing a comprehensive guide to Hindu religious teachings. The book is disseminated to all religious instructors working within the prison system, who utilize its contents to impart essential religious knowledge to the inmate population. The objective is to instill a sense of spiritual connection that may be lacking among the prisoners, thereby offering them a transformative path towards a more positive and constructive future.
Recognizing that a dearth of religious understanding and practice may contribute to individuals engaging in unlawful activities, Tuan Anathurai’s program seeks to address this gap. By fostering a deeper understanding of Hindu Dharma, inmates are provided with an opportunity for spiritual growth, potentially influencing their behavior and contributing to their rehabilitation within the confines of the prison system.
In 2020, Mr. Tuan Anathurai Kalimuthu took a further step to enhance the impact of the initiative by updating the book. Beyond focusing solely on spiritual knowledge, he expanded its content to include valuable insights from psychology, sociology, and financial literacy. This new edition aims to provide prisoners with a broader awareness of life’s importance and value.
To make this edition more engaging and accessible, Tuan Anathurai collaborated with Mitra to incorporate colorful visuals into the publication. The collaborative effort resulted in the successful printing of a total of 8000 books. Notably, the entire printing cost was generously sponsored by Mitra. These enriched books, now featuring a holistic blend of spiritual, psychological, sociological, and financial knowledge, have been systematically distributed to all Indian prisoners.
In addition to the existing provision allowing prisoners to pursue educational endeavors during their incarceration, there is a significant financial burden placed on their families to cover the costs associated with these studies. Notably, a majority of Indian prisoners hail from economically disadvantaged B40 families, rendering them unable to afford the expenses related to their relatives’ education while in prison.
In response to this challenging scenario, Tuan Anathurai has taken proactive measures to address the financial constraints faced by these families. Leveraging support from his network of friends, he has secured funding to assist 10 individuals in continuing their studies while serving their sentences. Remarkably, two of these beneficiaries have successfully completed their studies and graduated, showcasing the tangible impact of this initiative. Beyond educational support, Tuan Anathurai has extended his efforts to create job opportunities for Indian prisoners, further contributing to their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
He recently achieved a significant milestone by authoring and publishing a book titled ‘Thani Oruvan Ninaithuvittal.’ This unique work chronicles the stories of 80 prisoners whom he personally interviewed during his tenure as the Deputy Commissioner of the prison department. The book launch was graced and officiated by Tan Sri Vigneswaran, President of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC). Tan Sri Vigneswaran generously covered the entire printing cost of RM47,000 through MIED.
The event was further honored by the presence of Datuk Seri M. Saravanan, Vice President of MIC, Senator Datuk T. Mohan, Datuk Asojan, Datuk Dr. Nelson from MIC, and Associate Professor Dr. Mohammad Raheem Bin Kamaluddin, a criminologist who contributed to the bibliography of the book. Dr. Kausalya Devi Sathoo, a retired Deputy Commissioner of Prisons, also graced the occasion, making it a joyous gathering. The book launch attracted an audience of approximately 530 people, filling the auditorium. Representatives from various associations such as Malaysia Hindu Sangam, Hindu Dharma Maamandram, Saiva Narpani Mandram, Hindu Youth Association, Malaysia Tamil Manimandram, Siva Sakti Association, Hare Rama Hare Krishna Society, Brahmakumaris Association, Dravidar Association, and many others attended the event. This literary endeavor stands as a significant and profound contribution to Mr. Anathurai’s dedicated service in the prison system.
Varnam Malaysia had an interview with Tuan Anathurai to know more about him and his services. When we asked him about his experience,
As the Head of Prison Intelligence, I bear the responsibility for the safety and security of incarcerated individuals. I had to make sure that all prisoners are safe and well in every prison across all facilities. I will also conduct inspections and spot checks during visits to various prisons. I was also tasked with identifying and implementing optimal solutions to address any safety issues that may arise within the prison system. My expertise lies in these areas.
What made you to take the initiative to write ‘Thani Oruvan Ninaithuvittal’ book?
Dr. Shanmuga Siva, a seasoned dermatologist and psychologist was the catalyst behind the vision to pen this book. Witnessing the daily lives of prisoners in my professional capacity, his suggestion resonated with me, prompting the initiation of this writing endeavor. My wife played a pivotal role, offering invaluable support and suggestions, fueling my determination to complete the book promptly. In addition to personal motivations, I believe this book can contribute positively to our Indian community. With a growing number of young individuals and students becoming entangled in criminal activities, shedding light on the factors leading to such choices and the ensuing consequences can raise awareness.
As I retired this month, I am driven by the vision to establish a rehabilitation center for ex-prisoners. The proceeds from the book sales will be directed towards the realization of this project. Spanning 6000 acres in Linggi, Negeri Sembilan, this venture is already underway with the support of Associate Professor Arumugam Balakrishnan, President of Vethathiri Sky Manavalakalai Malaysia. The rehabilitation center is slated to commence operations in February 2024 under the able supervision of Tuan Anathurai. This comprehensive facility will include a meditation room and have the capacity to accommodate approximately 80 individuals. Sessions will be structured for 20-25 participants at a time, focusing on imparting essential skills and knowledge. The ultimate goal is to facilitate the reintegration of ex-prisoners into society, fostering a path toward rehabilitation and a brighter future.
The idea to establish a rehabilitation center for released prisoners took shape when a religious teacher, who formerly taught in prison, contacted me. She shared a distressing story about a lady, having served time for a murder case, being rejected by her family due to fears of retaliation from the victim’s relatives. Unable to secure accommodation through the Indian association due to limited facilities, I turned to a NGO called ‘Malaysian Care.’ With their support, the lady found shelter.
This incident prompted me to consider the establishment of a rehabilitation center after my retirement. Armed with some experience and knowledge in the field, I could recognise the gaps in assistance for released prisoners. This personal insight fueled my determination to create a facility addressing their needs and assisting them towards a better future. And thus, this initiative took root.
What is the book about, and how would it benefit the readers?
The book, titled ‘Thani Oruvan Ninaithuvittal,’ not only delves into the stories of 80 prisoners interviewed during my tenure as Deputy Commissioner of the prison department but also incorporates my personal journey, offering readers inspiration for success. In addition to recounting the stories of the prisoners, I have included my personal journey in this book, hoping it will serve as a source of inspiration for readers to succeed in life. My primary education took place in India, and I continued my secondary education in Malaysia. Although faced with challenges in learning Bahasa Malaysia—a necessity in this country. I overcame the obstacles through continuous hard work, excelling in studies and language proficiency. Growing up in a plantation, I faced various challenges, but here I am today. The guiding lights through these challenges were my spiritual knowledge and religious practices, steering me toward the right path. I have detailed these life experiences in the book, encouraging readers to start putting in efforts to excel in life from wherever they are. I firmly believe that it’s never too late to begin the journey towards success.
Furthermore, the book includes a chapter titled ‘Siraichaalai Oor Arimugam,’ where I provide insights into the actual conditions of prisons and the experiences that prisoners endure. Recognizing the importance of family awareness, I detail what families should know about these conditions and elaborate on strategies to help secure the release of their incarcerated loved ones. In addition, I highlight the true stories of 12 out of the 80 prisoners I interviewed. Through these narratives, readers will experience fear and hesitation, serving as a deterrent against involvement in any form of criminal activities.
The concluding chapter offers an overview connecting crime cases and the Indian community in Malaysia. Drawing from my extensive experience, including talks and seminars in 300 locations on crime prevention and motivational speeches for students and youngsters, I analyze the root causes of crimes and propose solutions. By sharing these insights, the book aims to raise awareness and guide individuals away from the wrong path, contributing to the betterment of the community. This book has been translated in Malay as well.
If anyone wishes to purchase the book after this, how can they do so?
The digital version of this book is priced at RM40, while the hard copy is available for RM70, excluding postage fees. With an additional RM10 for postage, the total cost of the hard copy is RM80. For those interested in purchasing the book, please feel free to contact me at 019-3644125.
Tuan Anathurai’s invaluable contributions throughout his tenure as Deputy Commissioner are truly commendable. His dedication to shedding light on the stories of prisoners and sharing his personal journey enriches the narrative of ‘Thani Oruvan Ninaithuvittal’ book. This work stands as a beacon of guidance, offering valuable insights that can shape the paths of today’s Indian youngsters. Tuan Anathurai’s efforts are not only a testament to his commitment to rehabilitation but also a source of inspiration for those seeking positive transformation in their own lives.