Speaking of in-house journals, Ul Oli (Inner Light), sounds unique. It’s a monthly of, by and for jailbirds in Tamilnadu. It can count on a captive circulation of 16,000 in the state’s 137 prisons. Ul Oli is not available at news stands.
As journalist Pushpa Iyengar put it, the magazine may not be Pulitzer material, but it deserves an honourable mention. Pushpa has done a pageful on Ul Oli in her Outlook magazine. The 50-page jail monthly, launched in mid-January, is reported to be the brainchild of Tamilnadu Director General of Prisons, R Nataraj.
Pushpa, Outlook bureau chief in Chennai, who has had access to the inaugural issue says the magazine has stories by jail inmates on their life in prison. It has poems, drawings, anecdotes and spiritual quotes and other literary contributions, all by convicts in theft, smuggling, rape, murder, and bomb blast cases. On the magazine editorial board is a Sri Lankan Tamil Santhan, who faces death sentence for his role in the LTTE conspiracy to kill Rajiv Gandhi.
Incidentally, Pushpa was among the journalists on the scene of the suicide bomb attack on Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur. She had covered the story for The Times of India.