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Convict turns tutor in demand

- Open-jail inmate teaches schoolchildren in Lalgola
Kanupriyo teaches schoolchildren in his one-room coaching centre at Lalgola; the correctional home (below) where he stays. Pictures by Chayan Majumdar

Lalgola, Jan. 14: Kanupriyobabu is a much sought-after tutor among schoolchildren in this Murshidabad town. He is also a murder convict serving life term.

The 53-year-old is an inmate in an open-air correctional home in Lalgola, 245km from Calcutta.

He teaches high school and Plus II students every day when he is allowed to leave the prison. This month, two of his pupils came first and second in the Class VI annual exam.

Kanupriyo Sarkar, who once resided in Burwan in Murshidabad, was convicted of murdering one of his in-laws in 1997. Since then, he has no contact with his wife.

Kanupriyo had graduated in commerce from Raj College in Kandi, also in Murshidabad. For a living, he ploughed his own land.

Convicted in December 1998, Kanupriyo was kept in the Behrampore Central Jail. He was shifted to the Lalgola open-air facility in 2006. Three years ago, he began to teach schoolchildren.

Open-air jails offer a transitional phase before the prisoners are released. It is a half-way home, with emphasis on doing away with social stigma.

Kanupriyo’s ability to teach well and his diligence has brought him so many students that he has taken a room on rent at Netaji More.

He does not like to talk about his past. “I have severed all relations with my wife after that incident (the murder). I have my mother, elder brother and sister-in-law at home. I don’t want to talk about that incident any more,” he said.

People in Lalgola are aware of his past but parents willingly send their children to “Kanupriyobabu”. Nor does the landlord mind letting out a room to the jail inmate.

Paresh Ghosh, the landlord, said he was proud of Kanupriyo. “I do not consider him a convict. I rented out the room to him and he is doing an excellent job,” he said.

Two students of Class VI of the century-old MN Academy — Ansuman Singha and Om Biswas — stood first and second, respectively, this month. Both are Kanupriyo’s students.

Om’s mother Lakshmi said: “My husband is an army jawan and is posted elsewhere…. I am lucky I got such a sincere tutor such as Kanupriyobabu. My son and first-boy Anshuman had a difference of just one mark.”

Kanupriyo teaches all subjects for Madhyamik and tutors for geography, economics and English if the student is in Classes XI or XII.

If he goes to a student’s home, he takes Rs 700-1,000 from each. “But for students who come to my coaching centre, I take Rs 200 from each,” he said.

From 6am to 8.30pm, Kanupriyo teaches children.

The superintendent of the jail, P. Singha Kumar, said: “Kanupriyo has permission from the government to give tuitions…. He is very popular among the inmates too.”