Women prisoners in Hyderabad to run petrol pump
The inmates at the 24/7 pump, located next to the jail in Hyderabad’s Saidabad area, work in three shifts, from 6am to 3pm, 3pm to 12 midnight, and midnight to 6am.india Updated: Jun 23, 2017 07:58 IST
K Gopal Reddy is serving a life sentence, but for all practical purposes he is a free man during the day. At the crack of dawn every day, he discards his prison uniform and steps out of Hyderabad’s Chanchalguda jail to work as an attendant at a petrol pump run by the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
Reddy is one of the 40 inmates working at the bunk as attendants. “I simply forget that I am a prisoner and enjoy the freedom when I am at work. And when I go back into the barracks after duty hours, I take with me a nice feeling that I am able to see the outside world every day,” he says.
The pump next to the Chanchalguda prison in the city’s Saidabad neighbourhood has been operational since 2013 but no inmate working in shifts has ever attempted to escape. The success of the project aimed at reforming inmates has now prompted the Telangana jail authorities to open another petrol pump in the city, to be exclusively manned by women inmates.
“It will open from this Friday,” says G Ramakrishna, the senior jailor at Chanchalguda prison.
The prisoners say the petrol pumps have given a new meaning to what would have otherwise been dreary lives behind high walls. Reddy, for one, is looking at years in prison after being convicted of his cousin’s murder over a property dispute in 2009.
The inmates at the 24/7 pump, located next to the jail in Hyderabad’s Saidabad area, work in three shifts, from 6am to 3pm, 3pm to 12 midnight, and midnight to 6am. For the work they do, they are paid but money, the prisoner-attendants say, is only incidental. “More than the wage, I feel lucky to get the opportunity to enjoy the freedom,” says Ch Kathalappa, another life convict.
Everyone involved in the running of the petrol pump say it is a win-win arrangement. As it is run by the prisons department, there is no scope for adulteration of fuel or manipulation of the vending machines. “That is why, this pump is one of the busiest in the city with a long line of vehicles,” points out an official. The monthly turnover is anywhere around 10 crore rupees and the profit no less than 30 lakh rupees a month.
Besides employing inmates currently serving sentences, the petrol pump also employs 15 others who have completed their jail terms. Pradeep Burman, 24, is one such. He was sentenced for life in a murder case but later acquitted by the Hyderabad high court. “During my stay in the jail, I completed by graduation in public administration. But after coming out of jail, I could not get a job and the jail authorities offered me cashier job in this petrol pump,” Burman explains. Working at the petrol pump has fuelled his desire to lead a normal life.