Kolkata: The Kolkata Zoo played host to an unusual set of painters yesterday. 20 inmates of the Alipore Correctional Home were at the zoo to participate in an art workshop whose theme was wildlife conversation. The inmates have been learning to paint for the last five years as part of a drive to use creativity as therapy.
For Bulu Rani Chatterjee, who is serving a life sentence, painting is a means to fill the hours whilst completing her term and to keep her from thinking about the family waiting for her back home.
"I hope you will think of life convicts like us, that we should be freed after 10 years so that we can also live like you. I have a husband, children. I want all of you to think of us," says Bulu Rani.
"People think we are bad but through our behaviour we want to tell the world that we are also good people," says another inmate, Poltu Das.
Although, the experiment of using creativity as therapy was launched in several jails across Bengal five years ago, this is the first time inmates are participating in a workshop outside their correctional home.
"The big idea is to make the public aware that a chunk of society is behind bars. They need integration, they need help,"says Ranvir Kumar, IG Correctional Services.
"We are also human. We like going outside. I have spent 20 years in jail, "says another inmate Rashid Khan.
They may not be potential Picassos, but their paintings send out an SOS, an SOS that the society that sent them behind bars should now give them a second chance at life.