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Madhya Pradesh jail inmates become trained chefs–run popular cafe

Kanha Jail Cafe run by inmates of Narsinghpur Central Jail serves varied snacks and beverages and is quite popular with visitors to the jail and general public

Realising that there is life for prison inmates once their sentence is over, jail authorities across the country are trying to make them skilled so that they are gainfully employed. One such example is an initiative started at Narsinghpur Central Jail, Madhya Pradesh along with the State Government under which four men serving life sentences are now running the Kanha Jail Café which has become popular with the public.

Started in November 2020, this café located outside the jail premises serves juices, snacks and sweets and is run by Ravi, Dilip, Mannu and Ranjeet, all of whom have been convicted of murder.

Talking to the media, Narsinghpur Central Jail Superintendent Shephali Tiwari said: “We started Kanha Jail Cafe and Kanha Jail Product Emporium with a capital of Rs 25,000 collected from the jail staff under the umbrella of Jail Karamchari Kalyan Samiti and 8 lakh given by Rajya Sabha member Kailash Soni. The cafe and the emporium are doing well after the two Covid-19 lockdowns. The cafe is a big hit among a lot of people, not only the jail visitors.”

It was in 2019 that jail authorities had availed services of sweet makers to train their inmates. Among them were Ravi, Dilip, Mannu and Ranjeet who decided that on finishing their terms they would like to become chefs. The four following the training started preparing tea, snacks like kachori, vada, poha and samosas and also dishes like matar paneer and sweets like balushahee, rasgulla, etc.

Besides this Café, the jail authorities are also running Kanha Juice Centre and Kanha Chaupati which is outside the café where the four inmates wearing impressive red-black dresses serve food and juices to patrons. Plans are afoot to also bring in expert bakers to train the inmates in making cakes, burgers, pizzas, rolls, patties, pastries, etc.

The authorities are also thinking of starting a catering service in the jail and delivering food items through delivery apps and providers.