After a decade, Maharashtra state prisoners to get meat and snacks
A 2008 order banning the sale of packaged food and meat in prison canteens has been scrapped
Food in jails just got khaas once again for its inmates. Convicts, who often complain about the lack of facilities, will now be able to purchase food in jails now. The ban on sale of food items that came into effect in prisons in Maharashtra in 2008 has been revoked and from last week, and snack items, as well as non-vegetarian dishes, became available to them.
In 2008, the state government had issued a resolution imposing a ban on the sale of food in prison canteens as well as on serving non-vegetarian food, which was otherwise allowed as per the Maharashtra Prison Manual. Prison officials said that the circular has now been cancelled for all jails in the state. Sadanand Gaikwad, superintendent of Byculla Jail said, "From last weekend, we have started providing snacks like samosas, idli, sheera etc. Inmates can also pre-order non-vegetarian food and purchase from the canteen once a month."
The dishes are sold at nominal rates. Representation pic
Meals for money
At Byculla jail, inmates get three meals which include breakfast at 7 am, lunch at 10 am and dinner at 4 pm. The snacks are served till about 12:30-1 pm and inmates can store them for later. Prison officials said that they take orders from inmates for dishes like chicken curry or paneer which are prepared in the prison kitchens and sold at nominal rates. "Based on the orders, 1 kg is prepared. The rates vary based on the price of raw materials but usually 1 kg of chicken curry is around R180 and paneer is around R200," said another official. Inmates get wages for the work they do in the prison and their family members can also give them money. Vijay Raghavan, professor at TISS and project director at Prayas, who has worked closely with inmates said, "There has always been a demand for it and it is a welcome move. The items are in addition to the meals provided by the government and for those who will be able to afford them."
Spice of life
The resolution was opposed and in 2009, a plea challenging it was filed by six convicts in the 1993 serial blasts case. In response to the plea, the then-Deputy Inspector General of Prisons, Ashok Patil had said that serving non-vegetarian food in jails can create tension within the premises. Patil had also claimed that medical officers had advised jail officials to avoid non-vegetarian food to the risk of poisoning, communicable diseases and bird flu.
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