MYSURU: The jail records count B M Nanjundaswamy as a murder convict in the tenth year of his sentence, but at the Dasara exhibition grounds, he has carved a niche for his marketing skills and friendliness.
The 44-year-old man is the centre of attraction at the stall set up by the Prisons Department next to the stall by Mysore Sandal soap at the Dasara exhibition grounds to promote and sell products made by prisoners from the central jails across the state.
The stall sells carpets, towels, handkerchiefs made of cotton, wooden furniture, bakery products and files made by jailbirds at eight central jails in the state.
Nanjundaswamy, who has an MA in public administration which he completed during his time at the jail, would surely create a lasting impression on those visiting the stall. He takes time to explain products and justify their quality and price patiently attracting not just those who come to shop but those in the neighbouring stalls as well.
When The New Indian Express visited the stall on Wednesday, Nanjundaswamy was seen explaining benefits of using cotton carpets to a customer and when she took an exception to the price, he patiently explained the quality of the product.
"It's unfortunate that he is in the jail. He is a nice person. Appreciate the way he patiently showed us products. I would like to visit the jail one day," said Vani, a customer.
Not just customers, Nanjundaswamy is popular among his neighbouring shop vendors as many were seen exchanging pleasantries while passing by.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Nanjundaswamy said it's a nice experience for him. "These products are made by us. It feels good to sell them," he said.
Asked about sales, Nanjundaswamy proudly said a majority are repeat customers and many have started recognising him.
He said people have a vague idea about jail. "Being a prisoner, it's natural for people to ask about the life inside the jail and our personal matters. Many think that it is like what is shown in cinemas. But in reality, except for freedom, the life in jail is no different from the one outside," he said.
Yogesh, an SDA clerk at prisons department who oversees activities at the stall, is also a happy man as the stall has recorded over `2.35 lakh sales already this year with one more month to go. Last year the stall had made a turnover of `2.75 lakh till December. He appreciated Nanjundaswamy's marketing skills.
They are also happy about his discipline as he has never even called his family members to the stall. "Why should I break the rules when the department has given me such an opportunity. I have asked them to only meet me at the Jail," said Nanjundaswamy.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Mysuru jail assistant superindent K C Divyashree said it is for the first time a prisoner was deputed to the stall on the direction of Deputy Inspector General, Prisons, H S Revanna who recently visited the shop.
"When people interact with them, it inspires people to shed the stereotypical image that they have about prisoners and to see them as normal individuals," she said.