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Prisoners to take stage for jatra performance

Maa Mati Manush — the words bear significance not only for Mamata Banerjee and her party members but also the prisoners at Alipore jail who are busy rehearsing for a jatra by that name.

The jatra, directed by an employee of the correctional home and with inmates of Alipore Central jail and women’s jail in the cast, will be staged at Phoni Bhusan Vidya Vinod Mancha, Bagbazar, on Tuesday.

“They have been rehearsing everyday, after wrapping up their day’s work. Most of them are lifers and it has given them a sense of purpose,” said Bhairab Ganguly, the jatra writer whose story Maa Mati Manush is based on. “I have been rehearsing with them for more than three months and they eagerly wait for me. Sometimes, minister Shankar Chakraborty drops by to encourage them.”

Maa Mati Manush is the story of a group of farmers who revolt against a tyrannical landlord and how he finally relents. “The original story was written by Bhairab Ganguly. I have made some relevant additions, including songs, to make it contemporary. The inmates themselves will sing the songs on stage,” said Tarun Tapan Ganguly, the director.

DIG (correctional services) H.P. Mondal said the show would be the first of its kind. “Twenty-two inmates, including five women, will perform. It is a part of cultural therapy. Earlier, the inmates have put up plays such as Valmiki Pratibha but never a jatra show,” he said.

Asked about the choice of the title, which also happens to be Trinamul’s slogan, minister Chakraborty said: “The jatra was named without any specific intent....The aim of such performances is to instil a sense of culture in the minds of inmates languishing in correctional homes for years.”

The director of the jatra said the show would help raise funds for the families of inmates. “After all, they have done no wrong and shouldn’t suffer.”