The armed personnel, high level of security, and boards that read ‘Stay 15 steps away from the deployed person’ are intimidating. After all, this is the Central Jail in Raipur; but one would never guess that this institution is today a reformatory, and inside its high walls and strong bars, conducts creative and skill development activities.
The Chhattisgarh government’s skill development activities are not only restricted to educational hubs, colleges, training centres, and panchayats, but extend to prisoners housed in the state’s jails. The jail administration is also giving the inmates computer training so as to help in their rehabilitation.
The jail administration, supported by the Chhattisgarh government, is undertaking extensive skill development activities within the jail, and inmates are engaged in employment-oriented activities. The Raipur Central Jail offers courses on dairy farming, fabrication and welding, basic fitting work, sheet metal work, sewing operator, basic wooden work, accounts using TALLY, DTP, print publishing, healthcare and multipurpose worker, mason, plumber, electrician, cooking, and integrated courses in hair, skin and makeovers, among others.
Aimed at developing job-oriented skills among prison inmates, the administration of Raipur Central Jail also operates various cottage industries. The Central Jail also houses a dairy farm with around 150 cattle.
Between 2016 and 2018, over 700 prisoners, including 47 female inmates, completed skill development training in different trades at the Raipur Central Jail. Currently, 81 inmates are enrolled in the skill development programme in trades such as sheet metal work, jacket-jodhpuri and sherwani making, plumbing and electrical works, said jail officials.
Of the 47 women inmates who have completed their training, 20 trained in cooking, while 27 completed an integrated course in hair, skin and makeovers.
Inmates also make stationery items, furniture, and other products, which are supplied to government offices and schools. Surprisingly, the small factories operational in the jail together reported a turnover of Rs 2.31 crore in 2017-18, and earned a profit of over Rs 41 lakh.
In an attempt to provide the inmates a platform to showcase their handicrafts and artefacts, the government has set up a jail emporium within the campus of Raipur Central Jail, where people can shop for products manufactured by prison inmates.
“By looking at the handicrafts, embroideries, bamboo crafts, and other stuff made by prisoners in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur Central Jail, one can visualise scenes of classic movie ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’ directed by V Shantaram, on the rehabilitation of six prisoners in an open jail,” said a member of the staff working at the Jail Emporium.
The items at the emporium see huge demand, added the emporium staff.