The Telegraph
Wednesday , August 6 , 2014
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Dairy project to reform rebels

Hazaribagh, Aug. 5: Twenty-four inmates, including 18 Maoists who shunned the path of bloodshed, lodged at Hazaribagh open jail-cum-rehabilitation centre will now milk cows to earn a living and return to the mainstream.

The state has initiated a dairy project to reform prisoners and help them develop new skills during their stay in the open prison, situated near the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Central Jail.

District dairy development officer Rampravesh Prasad Nirala said a total of Rs 90 lakh had been sanctioned for the purpose. “To start with, we will purchase 50 cows and train prisoners to milk them. The milk thus produced will be sold in open market and the earnings will be reinvested to maintain and develop the business,” he added.

The open jail — built at the cost of Rs 3 crore and spread over 50 acres — was inaugurated by chief minister Hemant Soren in November last year. With 96 cottages to house 100 prisoners, the facility was developed to provide surrendered Maoists an opportunity to lead a normal life with their families. Also, prisoners who were arrested for their involvement in minor crimes are given a chance to live here. Currently, only 24 prisoners, who have been shifted from different jails of the state, are living in the open prison with their families.

According to Nirala, the dairy project was the first big step so far to help undertrial rebels live with dignity and come out of the shadow of their bloody past.

Elaborating on the plan, the district dairy development officer said two cattle-sheds and a godown would be constructed and three high-mast lights would be installed for the purpose. Apart from techniques of milking, the prisoners will also be given tips on how to take care of cows. “Officials of the district dairy development department will teach them how to take good care of cows and how to identify symptoms of diseases that they get infected with frequently. The district veterinary officer will visit the campus regularly to check the health of cows,” Nirala said.

According to Nirala, the prisoners will be trained in such a way that they can take up this business on their own when they come out of the jail and sustain their families.

Moreover, a special committee will be formed for monitoring the project, which will be launched in a few weeks.

Officials from the dairy development and animal husbandry departments, district administration and jail will be members of the committee that will have the power to take all decisions related to this project.