This cafe in Shimla is run by prisoners serving life sentences. Stocked with books of all genres, the place serves cookies, beverage and a wide variety of snacks prepared by the prisoners. It has now become a major tourist hub.
One of the inmates, Jai Chand, who has been in prison for the past eight years, serving life imprisonment for murder, runs the book cafe, reported news agency ANI.
Another jail inmate, Bhupinder Singh, said that the huge crowd coming for lunch keeps him busy throughout the day.
The authorities have engaged a total of 135 inmates, who work at six mobile van canteens, a book cafe and also make handloom products and wood crafts with a turnover of Rs 3.5 crore annually, thus enabling inmates to help their families as well.
The idea to positively engage the prisoners was proposed by Himachal Pradesh Director General of Prisons, Somesh Goyal. The initiative has proven to be a life-changing experience for prisoners.
“We want to rehabilitate the prisoners and integrate them back with the society. So with that agenda in mind, we are giving job opportunities to the prisoners we are skilling them up. The idea is to give a chance to the inmates for reform, rehabilitation and go out of the prison. 135 inmates are being sent out of jail on the basis of good conduct,” Goyal told news agency ANI.
“What it does is the prisoners who were lying idle in their prisons and were full of negative thoughts. Now they are gainfully employed within the jail and outside the jail,” he added.