Stall selling products made by jail inmates centre of attraction

PITEX Offers cost-effective handmade items to visitors

Stall selling products made by jail inmates centre of attraction

Shoppers have a look at products during at the stall during PITEX in Amritsar on Saturday. Photo: Sunil Kumar

Neha Saini

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 14

A stall by set up by the Amritsar Central Jail at PITEX-2019 this year stands out from the rest, not only because it beats the rest for being the best-priced but also for the fact that it makes an effort to create favourable environment for prison education and rehabilitation. The stall displays products handmade by inmates, trained under the skill development programmes of the National Skill Development Corporation and the state government.

The project launched this year aims at imparting skill development to over 1,140 prison inmates across six state prisons. Handmade towels, bedsheets, apparels for both men and women, soft toys, cardigans and handmade soaps, the stall have everything made by inmates. “The project was initiated by the Punjab government across several Central jails. We work with 150 male inmates and 30 women inmates, and produce bed sheets, mats, rugs and kurta sets. This is for the first time, we participated in the PITEX and till now, we have received tremendous response. People are appreciating our cost-effective stuff,” said Saurabh Sharma, incharge of the factory outlet inside the prison.

Sharma said the cotton-made bed sheets and towels were priced between Rs100 to Rs600, while the hand-weaved rugs cost Rs250 to Rs300. A kurta pajama set for men is priced at Rs350. “The prices have been set in a way to encourage buyers as the revenue generated is distributed among the inmates and also used up to procure resources for our project. The inmates work for four-five hours daily and are paid daily wages between Rs40 to Rs60 per day, depending on the work. It’s a non-authoritative way to teach them skills and give some employment opportunity, once they leave the prison,” said Saurabh.

Bharti Gulati, a trainer and incharge at the women’s prison under the project, said she had been working with inmates of the Central Jail for the past 15 years. “Many inmates have undergone corrective transformation and have taken up the skill as a career opportunity after leaving the prison. Some also teach and conduct workshops in the jail, helping others like them,” she said.