Mumbai, May 18: Next time, if you are going to buy a new pair of shoes or sandals, look for the brand "Inmate", a designer footwear company where inmates of a jail are working as shoemakers. Interesting, isn't it?
As a part of reform and rehabilitation process of prisoners, inside the premises of Yerwada Central Jail in Pune, Maharashtra, these days at least 65 jail inmates are sculpting shoes and sandals for discerning customers across the country.
Started under the guidance of leather businessman Divej Mehta with apt support from the jail authorities, prisoners in the jail keep themselves busy by manufacturing some of the most stylish and comfortable shoes and sandals.
Talking about the initiative, BK Upadhyay, ADG (Prisons), Maharashtra, told ANI that the idea behind the whole concept is to rehabilitate prisoners and make them able citizens to face the outside world once their jail term gets over.
"It does not mean that a person becomes useless after being sent to a jail. They too have potential and creativity. It is right that they are serving jail terms because they have committed crimes. But we need to tap their best qualities and reform them. The shoemaking initiative is a part of that process by the jail authorities," the top cop added.
Mehta told ANI that initially he employed just five inmates to see how the whole thing works out. It took him and his colleagues at least six months to train and guide prisoners in shoemaking. Today, at least 65 prisoners are part of the brand name.
"Apart from the government's fixed daily wages, they are being provided extra amount for the work from the brand," Mehta said. "Making them (prisoners) mentally stable was the biggest task we had and then to make them work was a little tough. It took us six months, but now they are doing very well," he added.
Pune: Footwear manufactured inside Yerwada jail by prisoners is now hitting the market. There are about 65 prisoners who're working for this. Brand owner Divej Mehta says, 'to make them work was little tough, it took 6 months but now they are doing very well.' #Maharashtra pic.twitter.com/EHLyQZj5dJ— ANI (@ANI) May 17, 2018
Recently, we wrote about inmates of a district jail in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar running their own radio station. Similarly, in a Gurgaon jail, inmates are involved in making cloth bags to save the environment under the campaign, "No to Polythene And Yes To Cloth Bags".