In September last year, this was the first time when Central Jail in Srinagar permitted to run a bakery inside a high-security prison. It is now a very lively place inside jail premises.
Security forces and local cops are frequent customers of this bakery. Their products are being liked so much so that force personnel who are posted at various areas visit the bakery to buy cookies and cakes. This idea of starting a bakery in prison was first coined by VK Singh when he was appointed as Director-General of Prisons.
They found that a 21-year-old professional baker was locked in their prison. So, jail authorities asked him to train more prisoners so that they can help him in running a bakery. He chose two volunteers and trained them so that they can assist him. Prison authorities helped with all the logistical support and a jailhouse bakery was established.
Baker who manages this bakery told The Kashmir Monitor that he has been in jail for the last 21 months. He and his colleagues were trained by the master who was later released from jail. They learnt various baking techniques from him and are now experts in baking. Some other inmates have joined this bakery and are being trained.
A small portion of the shop is being used as a manufacturing unit. They make fresh bread and biscuits on a regular basis. Jail authorities are responsible for picking up some of the products and then deliver them to customers who have pre-booked the orders.
A Naanwai (Kashmiri flatbread) shop is located near the bakery. It is being managed by a trained nanwai who is also an inmate. Before this shop was set up, jail authorities would have to visit market to buy Kashmiri `tchot and lawasa’. Many inmates are spending their time in making and selling fresh Kashmiri flat to security personnels.
Daljit Singh, Superintendent of Jail said that they have not started selling bakery products in the open market as of now. They produce bakery items according to demand. Deputy Superintendent of Police Malik Mansoor said whatever profit this bakery earns, seventy per cent of it belongs to inmates who work in the bakery while remaining thirty per cent is sent to the government treasury.