Lavish platter for convicts
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Lavish platter for convicts

Master chefs may soon dish out chicken dehati and pulao for Jharkhand prisoners, writes Amitabh Srivastava.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 15:49 IST

A couple of dry rotis carelessly tossed on to a chipped plate and yellow dal that you wouldn't want to dunk the rotis in -- that was what your imagination concocted of "jail grub". A visit to Jharkhand jails could change all that.

Home minister Sudesh Mahto is finalising a gourmet menu, at least by prison standards, for the 17,000-odd prisoners and master chefs may soon dish out chicken dehati and pulao behind the bars.

Mahto has asked the prison department to recruit expert chefs instead of doubling prisoners as cooks. And as the minister's dictum goes, there will be non-vegetarian food -- mutton, chicken and eggs -all year round.

"Now meat is served only from November to February," say officials. The practice is a relic of the Raj. The British apparently believed that nonvegetarian food should be served sparingly in a warm country. Mahto is apparently unwilling to toe the colonial line.

Mahto, a closet foodie, pooh-poohs at the notion. "If you provide the prisoners with good food, they would not cause trouble," he says. "I want master cooks to blend excellent spices and prepare a great meal for them."

The decision to this effect was taken on Friday at a meeting of prison officials, convened by the home minister, to speed up the ongoing reform process. It will be implemented from the next fiscal and will put the prison department back by Rs 2.21 lakh daily.

There is some food for thought also, with libraries being planned in the two central jails, 17 district jails and seven divisional jails in Jharkhand. Good food and some paperbacks, however, don't mean the minister is not serious about security aspects.

Mahto has also ordered prison officials to identify defaulters and initiate exemplary punishment against them.

Focusing on prison security, the minister has told the concerned officials to install solar fencing to preempt jailbreaks. The covering wires would be charged after 6 p.m., he said. Besides, additional high mast lights are also to be installed in the prisons.

Similar measures have already been ordered for police stations in the state.

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 15:45 IST