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Mumbai-based NGO donates hotpots to keep food warm in Byculla, Alibaug prisons

Updated on: 16 January,2024 01:43 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Faisal Tandel |

Authorities say move will ensure food which is not eaten immediately stays hot, hygienic and fit for consumption

Mumbai-based NGO donates hotpots to keep food warm in Byculla, Alibaug prisons

Six hotpots—each with a 50-litre capacity—were given to Alibaug District Prison

Gone are the days when inmates lodged in jails used to prepare ‘handi’ to consume hot food which was prepared earlier by jail authorities, as now, an NGO has donated 36 casseroles (hotpots)—each having a capacity of 50 litres—to Byculla District Prison and Alibaug District Prison. The hotpots will ensure the food stays hot and reduce the risk of dust contamination.

Yogesh Desai, deputy inspector general (prison) south region, confirmed the development saying the hotpots were donated by Global Care Foundation. “Around 36 casseroles have been donated of which 30 were given to Byculla and 6 to the Alibaug prison. It is to keep the food warm for the inmates. Our main purpose is to serve hot, healthy and hygienic food to inmates,” Desai said.

Sources from the jail said since there was a huge gap between the time the food was served and the inmates consuming it, it often led to the food becoming unfit for consumption. The hotpots will keep the food warm and inmates would be able to eat warm food. Jail authorities saw the need for the hotpots and reached out to the NGO, after which the containers were donated.

Abid Ahmed Kundalam, founder and managing trustee, Global Care Foundation, said, “The food in jails is served according to their set timetable. But most inmates do not consume it when served, hence the food is exposed to dust, flies, bugs, etc. and depending on the weather conditions the food also gets spoiled. In such a scenario, the inmates who are already under pressure due to being in jail, are often deprived of food. To overcome this problem, we gifted Byculla and Alibaug jails with casseroles that can keep the food warm until the time of consumption. Working in the jails is not only about releasing the inmates on bail but also alleviating their problems and contributing to prisoner welfare.”

The casseroles were given away in the presence of Anant Deshmukh, secretary, Mumbai District Legal Services Authority, and J S Kokate, judge, Alibaug District Court, in the presence of the respective jail superintendents.

What is a handi?

The food which is served by jail authorities is later recooked by adding spices and giving ‘tadka’ which is called 'handi' in jail language. The concept of handi has been in practice in jails for the last 30-40 years. Every barrack in the jail had a well-known criminal or gangster who would get food ingredients from the jail canteen to add value to the food served, after which the handi was prepared later in the evening. As per the jail manual, inmates are served lunch around 10.30-11 am and dinner around 5.30-6 pm. “As they are served early, inmates would usually avoid eating the food and keep it aside. 

Later in the night, a group of 10-15 inmates would cook handi by putting additional ingredients to it. It was against the jail rule, but inmates having cash and a stronghold would get handi made. 

However, with time, the steel utensils changed to plastic ones and the handi concept came to an end. As a result, the inmates ended up with cold food, often unfit for consumption. However, the hotpots will help provide good, hot and healthy food,” said an official.

No. of hotpots donated

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