HYDERABAD: Every Hyderabadi’s evening plan for the whole month of January is “Numaish ku jaake aayenge yaaron” and why not, a new year should start with something new, if not resolutions, at least shopping with friends and family. The main entrance of the exhibition grounds plays host to almost a zillion fast food bandis, predominantly mirchi bajjis, of which even the chief minister is a fan. It is followed by the “prevention of grey hair” stall, which usually attracts a majority of the crowd, for various reasons. Hop, skip and jump through the electronic device stalls, unless you are interested as they play 80s Hindi songs at like 20,000 decibels, and standing right in front of you is the Andhra Pradesh Prisons Department stall.
Wondering what a prison stall is doing in the exhibition? Well, that’s the catch. The stall has been quite a tradition in the exhibition and has on display various products manufactured by both men and women prisoners from central jails across the state. From bed sheets foot rests, tables and stands to biscuits, cakes, saris and candles, and ironically, these products have been branded as “Sudhaar” products.
And another surprising fact is that Numaish is family time not just for citizens, but also for these prisoners. Though most of the police officials claim that the prisoners are not given permission, the prisoners say that they were looking forward to meeting their family members. One such prisoner, who was at the stall, Ahmad Pasha says, “My family will be coming here tomorrow. I’ll get to meet them.”
About ten prisoners were brought from Cherlapalli Central Jail to build the stall and transport goods. They have been left out in the open, where opportunities are many, but the prisoners say, “Change, we can”. One such prisoner, Madhusudhan Chary from Nizamabad was booked under a murder case and is serving his 18th year in Charlapalli. He says he has found his path to a better life. “I am a carpenter and I helped in building this stall. I have changed and I want to prove it to them (police). I am grateful with the amount of the trust the department has on me. They have brought me here to work and I want to do it honestly.” But, the police from their side are wide-eyed and alert.
On one side, where the chief minister, Kiran Kumar Reddy, along with president of the exhibition society, K Jana Reddy, released balloons into the air, declaring the exhibition open, on the other, the prisoners in the stall were geared up to receive their visitors, the first one being the director general, prisons, CN Gopinath Reddy. And talking about the business aspect, another prisoner Kandula Kumar from Warangal says, “We do get customers quite often and business is also not bad. But, I guess people are hesitant to buy these goods, as we have manufactured them.” So, now munch on Sudhaar biscuits, wear a Sudhaar sari and write on a Sudhaar table, at a relatively lower price.