Shimla's New Book Cafe Is Run Entirely By Prisoners From The Local Jail

Shimla's New Book Cafe Is Run Entirely By Prisoners From The Local Jail

Last week in Shimla, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, was proud to inaugurate the first-of-its-kind cafe in the Takka Bench Park of Shimla. From the food manufacturing to the selling, all activities are managed by four prisoners of Kaithu Jail. Free WiFi, books, drinks and snacks, everything is there to ensure locals and tourists a good and relaxing experience.

Jai Chand, Yog Raj, Ram Lal and Raj Kumar are the prisoners who had the chance to be trained by the team of the Radisson Hotel to run the Shimla Book Café; all four of whom are serving life sentences at Kaithu. This project was born thanks to the collaboration between the Government and the Prison Department. It is the first time that such a big challenge has been taken to ensure the rehabilitation of imprisoned people, “A good step and fair chance to be associated with mainstream and lead to normal life” V.K. Singh toldthe Daily Pioneer. There has already been a reinsertion programme through a theatre production with the Central Jail in Gaiety public theatre last year in Nahan in Sirmaur.

This time, in this 40-seat café, full of books written by national and international authors (Jules Verne, Sherlock Holmes, Nikita Singh, Chetan Bhagat and Robin Sharma among others), the inmates will warmly welcome you from 10 a.m to 9 p.m everyday. This new spot, above the Ridge promenade and on the way to Jakhu Temple, has been funded by a 20 lakh donation from the State’s Tourism Department. Everyone has the opportunity to learn something new, some detainees there are waiters and cooks while other are receiving music lessons in Kaithu Jul. Seems like the penitentiary system is taking a new turn and are learning that incarceration does not have to mean isolation but rather, reintegration into society.

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