| The Buxar open jail campus. Picture by Sanjay Chaudhary |
Be ready to wait for at least 60 days if you wish to get brickwork done at your home by Bharat Karmakar.
A convict serving life term in the Buxar open jail, 55-year-old Karmakar is the most sought-after skilled mason among the people of villages within 10km of the state’s first open family prison.
The resident of Sagra village in the Rajapur area of Buxar, around 100km west of Patna, Karmakar had never dreamt of becoming a household name as a mason and that too barely five months after he was shifted to the open jail from the central prison in the district in May.
He was convicted 12 years ago for the murder of a fellow villager.
“I did not have any idea about brickwork earlier. I learnt everything in the jail. The prison department officials trained me. At present, my income ranges between Rs 350 and Rs 400 a day,” Karmakar said. “I am overburdened with work. Many times I have to turn down requests,” he added.
Karmakar said he had opted for vocational training in the jail because he was not much educated. “I dropped out of school before matriculation. I used to work as a daily wage labourer in and around my native village before I was convicted in a murder case over 12 years ago,” he said.
The convict added that he has formed a group of fellow prisoners to work and accomplish tasks on time.
Karmakar expressed gratitude to inspector-general (prisons) Anand Kishore and director (industries) BCP Singh “for reforming a murderer into a professional”.
Kishore said Karmakar has become a role model for other inmates of the jail that was inaugurated by chief minister Nitish Kumar on May 23 this year. He added: “Karmakar earns Rs 144 a day for work undertaken by the prisons department under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Besides, he earns between Rs 300 and Rs 350 from work outside the jail on a daily basis.”
Karmakar’s expertise and popularity have inspired many prisoners, who have enrolled themselves with the training centre. “We provide our inmates with vocational training depending on their interests,” Kishore said.