Some of the cards made by the inmates on display at Dhanbad jail on Wednesday. Picture by Gautam Dey
A murder accused painting New Year cards? Incredible but true, say Dhanbad divisional jail authorities.
Eight Dhanbad jail prisoners — Rajesh Sao, who is accused of murder; Dharmendra Pandey, jailed for dowry-related torture; Santosh Vishwarkarma, Shahil Ansari, Bhola Paswan and Patit Gope, behind bars for robbery; Munna Singh and Awdhesh Singh, incarcerated for dacoity — have made 110 New Year greeting cards.
The list isn’t pretty, but the cards are.
Flowers, birds, butterflies, Mickey Mouse, and Tom and Jerry are some of the themes. Jail authorities bought raw materials for the cards such as paints, brushes and paper from prisoner welfare fund available and this group of eight set to work.
“There are two kinds — the larger ones priced at Rs 20 each and the smaller ones at Rs 15 per piece,” said jail superintendent Hamid Akhtar.
According to him, murder accused Sao had a knack for painting. “We launched a three-month painting tutorial for 15 male inmates under Sao. He and seven of his students have made the cards,” Akhtar said, adding the jail had 1,188 male prisoners.
He added that jail inmates already bought 35 of the 110 cards. “For convenience, postage stamps and envelopes have been given to prisoners who have bought New Year greeting cards to send them to their kin,” he said.
But he stressed that they wanted the general masses to buy these cards. “We will allow the sale of the cards at the visitor management system room on jail premises from December 27 (Thursday) onwards,” he said.
Compared to last year inmates had made fewer cards, but for a good reason.
“Last year, prisoners had made over 300 cards, which we sold via the temporary counter outside the jail’s main gates. This year, we are erecting a Rs 5.5-lakh permanent sales counter, to be ready by March, which is why we have to sell cards internally and thought that fewer numbers was a pragmatic decision. Next year, we will sell more in the new sales counter,” Akhtar said.