Kolkata: In a first of its kind, an art workshop involving convict-artists and professional painters was held away from a prison at the city`s Birla Industrial & Technical Museum (BITM) Tuesday.
Inaugurating the one-day art camp, West Bengal Correctional Administration Minister Shankar Chakrabarty said such initiatives will help reform the inmates and give them a means of livelihood when they return to normal life.
"The correctional administration not only aims to reform the inmates but also seeks to provide them sufficient vocational training so that when they return to the mainstream they are adequately qualified to get jobs and live a dignified life," he said.
Twelve convicts from the Alipore Correctional Home and six inmates of the Alipore Women Correctional Home participated in the event jointly organised by BITM, NGO Flight to Harmony Foundation, and the government.
Prisons in West Bengal are called correctional homes.
Ashok Mandal, serving life term for murder, said painting was not only a way to do something creative, it also helps in driving away negative and depressing thoughts.
"Since 1999, prison has been my house and will continue to be till my death. Whenever I think this I feel helpless, depressed. But after I took up the brush, I have this feeling that may be someday I will return to my own house," said Mandal as he kept filling colours in the blank canvas.
"This is the first time the inmates are participating in a workshop outside the prison premises. It is a very good initiative and we hope such projects are undertaken on a regular basis," Inspector General Correctional Services, Ranvir Kumar said.
The convict artists were also taught some new ideas and techniques of art by the BITM faculty.
The Alipore Correctional Home Saturday also became the country`s first prison to house a permanent art gallery. A computer centre was also inaugurated Feb 14 in the prison along with two other correctional homes in the city.