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Jail inmates seek Euro window to world

Euro 2012 fever — not the ongoing currency crisis — has the world and his wife in its grip, but prisoners in football-crazy West Bengal are feeling left out. Bibhas Bhattacharyya reports.

kolkata Updated: Jun 13, 2012 23:42 IST
Bibhas Bhattacharyya

Euro 2012 fever — not the ongoing currency crisis — has the world and his wife in its grip, but prisoners in football-crazy West Bengal are feeling left out.


Prisoners of Alipore and Presidency jails have demanded they too be allowed to watch the football championship on television and authorities are ready to oblige.

“We have decided to allow inmates across the state to watch the matches,” Ranvir Kumar, inspector-general (prisons), said on Wednesday.

Deprived of live action, prisoners have been pestering the staff at correctional homes for a blow-by-blow description of the matches.

“Even while being taken to court for trial, inmates are debating and betting on the fates of players and teams,” a Dum Dum correctional home staff said. Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is foremost on the prisoners’ minds and lips.

Football, unarguably the world’s most popular sport — even the United Nations has fewer member nations than national associations registered with international football’s governing body — dominates Bengal’s mind space.

India being globally ranked 164 among 206 teams has not diminished the love, which BD Sharma, former additional director-general of the prison department, had acknowledged with an unprecedented gesture in 2010.

Sharma had arranged for inmates to watch the football world cup in South Africa on television. “The inmates are also human beings and they too want to see the game,” he said.