Tihar Prisons, also called Tihar Jail and Tihar Ashram, is a prison complex in India and the largest complex of prisons in South Asia. Run by Department of Delhi Prisons, Government of Delhi, the prison contains nine central prisons, and is one of the two prison complexes in Delhi, along with a district prison at Rohini Prison Complex. It is located in Tihar village, approximately 3 km from Janakpuri, to the west of New Delhi, India. The surrounding area is called Hari Nagar.
The prison is styled as a correctional institution. Its main objective is to convert its inmates into ordinary members of society by providing them with useful skills, education, and respect for the law. It aims to improve the inmates' self-esteem and strengthen their desire to improve. To engage, rehabilitate, and reform its inmates, Tihar uses music therapy, which involves music training sessions and concerts. The prison has its own radio station, run by inmates. There is also a prison industry within the walls, manned wholly by inmates, which bears the brand Tihar. As of December 2012[update], Tihar jail has 10,533 inmates against the sanctioned capacity of 5,200. Though the figure is down from around 12,000 in 2006, the prison remains seriously overcrowded.
Originally, Tihar was a maximum security prison run by the State of Punjab. In 1966 control was transferred to the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Beginning in 1984, additional facilities were constructed, and the complex became Tihar Prison, also largest jail in India.
Under the charge of Kiran Bedi, when she was Inspector General of Prisons, she instituted a number of prison reforms at Tihar, including changing its name to Tihar Ashram. She also instituted a Vipassana meditation program for both staff and inmates; initial classes were taught by S. N. Goenka. The Prison has also produced an inmate who has passed the Indian Administrative Service civil service examinations.
Many of the inmates continue their higher education through distance education. The campus placement programme was launched in 2011 for the rehabilitation of inmates about to complete their sentences. In 2014, a recruitment drive led to 66 inmates selected on the basis of their good conduct, received job offers with salaries up to (US$510) per month, from as many as 31 recruiters, which included educational institutions, NGOs and private companies.
In 1961, the Jail Factory was established in Central Jail No.2, at Tihar. Over the years its activities have expanded to include Carpentry, Weaving (Handloom & Powerloom), Tailoring, Chemical, Handmade paper, Commercial art and Bakery. Later in 2009, a shoe manufacturing unit was established using the Public-Private Partnership model, and thus the brand TJ's was launched. Today, 700 inmates work in these units, and 25% of their earnings are deposited in the Victim Welfare Fund, which provides compensation to the victims and their families.
Charles Sobhraj, an international serial killer, escaped from Tihar on 16 March 1986, but was recaptured shortly thereafter, returned to the prison and sentenced to an additional ten years for the escape. He was released on completion of his term on 17 February 1997.
Ripun Bora, education minister of Assam's Tarun Gogoi-led Congressional government, the main suspect in the Daniel Topno murder case, was arrested by CBI officials on 3 June 2008 and sent to Tihar on 7 June 2008.
Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal, Indian social activists fighting against corruption, were imprisoned in Tihar for protesting conflicts between differing Civil Society and UPA Government anti-corruption bills, known as the Jan Lokpal Bill and the Lokpal Bill, respectively.
Doing Time, Doing Vipassana is a 1997 documentary about the introduction of S. N. Goenka's 10-day Vipassana classes at Tihar Jail in 1993 by then Inspector General of Prisons in New Delhi, Kiran Bedi. Bedi had her guards trained in Vipassana first, and then she had Goenka give his initial class to 1,000 prisoners.