Kolkata: In a unique initiative, 15 inmates from the state-based Dumdum correctional home, on Monday showcased a wide array of jute products crafted by them after getting trained by professionals inside the prison.
The inmates, chosen from a group of 40 from the correctional home (as jails are called in West Bengal), after six months of skill development training by the state directorate of correctional services and a city-based social welfare organisation, produced bags, purses, pen holders, cushion covers and various other jute based products, in a bid to propagate the usage of the eco-friendly golden fibre.
“We are trying to make our inmates skilled by teaching them new skills and upgrading their existing skills. This is mainly for two reasons; when they are in the correctional home they can be gainfully employed and used and once they go out of the correctional homes, they can be employed by people and organisations,” Arun Kumar Gupta, Director General of West Bengal Correctional Services, said at the official launch of the initiative ‘Jute Story Beyond Bars’ at a auditorium here.
He said that the state office of correctional services have started several skill development training like making jute products, fabricating garments, making school uniforms and so on to engage the inmates at various state correctional homes.
“This is an ongoing process and the ‘Jute story’ is a part of that process to provide the prisoners an innovative platform in the domain of artisanal manufacture and empower their lives,” Gupta said.
Stating that skill development training inside the prisons received very enthusiastic response, the organisers of the event said the training workshops are aimed at invoking creativity and confidence among the inmates and helping them gain employable skills once they come outside.
“We started this project to promote jute as an eco-friendly product of Bengal at the international level. Also it is like a movement to harness the creativity of these people who are in a confinement for some wrongdoing in the past,” said Chaitali Das, Managing Trustee of Rakshak Foundation, that worked in collaboration with the correctional home in honing the skills of the inmates.
“These people are convicts, while some are facing serious charges. But all of them have taken great interest in this creative activity. I think that everyone of us, at our most vulnerable moment, can make a mistake. But everyone deserves a second chance,” she added.
The products made by the inmates are scheduled to feature in a three day exhibition in Sri Lanka during the SAARC meeting in September. The organisers are also planning to launch an online platform for the common people interested in buying the products.