Making a difference from behind the bars

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BY ARCHANA SHARMA
Jaipur, May 19 (IANS)
Women prisoners belonging to different age groups at a Jaipur jail are contributing to the battle against Covid-19 by making thousands of face masks, either with sewing machines or by using needle and thread.
They say they want to change the society’s perception about them, as they don’t want to be recognised just as criminals, but as warriors in this war against the unseen enemy, jail officials said.
In Jaipur, these women prisoners have made around 70,000 masks which are said to be of the highest quality. As these women are experts in stitching, the masks made by them are earning praises from different departments, said Monica Agrawal, SP, Jaipur Mahila Jail.
As the news of these women prisoners’ work spread, others jails have also started following suit, Agarwal said.
The masks made by these women are sent to ‘Ashayen’, the jail shop, from where the IB, CBI, PHQ, RAC and many NGOs are buying them.
“We get cloth from the power loom of the Central Jail. We purchase materials from them and have the best hands to stitch the masks. We can say with pride that our quality is the best,” Agarwal added.
A single mask costs Rs 8 and this amount is being sent to our accounts department, she said, adding that these women prisoners have helped the department earn credentials, name and fame. “There is huge demand for these masks among many government institutes, she said.
Agarwal said the women prisoners were disappointed for being branded just as “criminals” and hence they are more than happy to serve in this noble task of making face masks.
She said the prisoners feel that they have finally got an opportunity to shred their criminal tag and serve the society in a meaningful purpose. “We have got a chance to change people’s mindsets. We want to wash away our sins and hence we are making masks,” Agarwal quoted the prisoners as saying.
Besides Jaipur, prisoners at the Udaipur Mahila Jail have also made around 4,000 masks, said Udaipur’s Deputy Jailor, Beena Meena.
According to her, “There are around 42 women in the Mahila Bandi Sudhar Grah, who have been working through the day to get the masks ready so that they can help people in their fight against Covid-19. Sometimes, they work till midnight to finish preparing their quota of face masks.”
Many of these inmates are old and don’t have very good eyesight. Yet, they are pitching in to do their bit in these testing times.

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