VELLORE: Five life convicts of the Vellore Central Prison for Men have turned hair stylists outside the walls of the prison. A few other inmates of the century-old prison are running an ironing unit for the public as part of the rehabilitation drive.
Clad in a white shirt and pant, forty year-old life convict C Govindan was busy in the newly opened salon in Prison Bazaar opposite the premises of Central Prison. “It is the first- of-its-kind in the country. No other prisons in the country have such facility. It will be manned and operated by the prisoners for general public,” Superintendent of the Prison V Karupanan told this Express. With expertise in different styles of haircuts, the lorry driver, incarcerated for nine years in a murder case exhibited his skill as a professional hair stylists in a tiny room turned into a salon. It was officially inaugurated by Principal District Judge, Vellore (in charge), Nazir Ahmed and Chief Judicial Magistrate, Vellore, Sivakadatcham and was functioning from Tuesday. The units will remain open from from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm from Monday to Saturday. Govindan and three other life convicts-- Sekar, Ramamurthy and Paranthaman- were trained in haircutting. They have been cutting hair for the wardens and fellow inmates for six to seven years.
“Foreman Gangadharan taught us different style of haircuts. We also learnt new styles of haircuts and cut hair according to a person’s appearance,” said 39-year-old Sekar, a farmer and resident of Jamunamaruthur in Tiruvannamalai district. The prison salon got nine customers in the first two days.
It gives the inmates double delight manning these units as they would be part of the outside world and do their loved profession for civilians. “It will also help us to be part of the society and mingle with people outside, besides helping us to overcome the social stigma,” said 29-year-old life convict, who was undergoing imprisonment for the last nine years.
A prison official said, they had engaged life convicts, who had completed more than eight years, with good conduct. “At any time, two prisoners will be deployed at the prison salon and one person in ironing unit. The amount charged for cutting, shaving and ironing will be deposited in the Prison Bazaar account. Certain percentage of the money will go to the prisoners as wage, while the remaining will be allocated for development activities of industrial units in the prison,” said the official. “We will also open the salon on Sundays if the response is good,” he said.