A sketch of a prison block with a crow perched atop a lamppost by ‘Dr.’ Prakash, who is serving a life term in prison, greets visitors to the Freedom Prison Bazaar in Egmore.

The city’s first outlet selling a total of 102 items ranging from vegetables to clothes and accessories, made by those serving sentences in nine central prisons in different parts of Tamil Nadu, is now open in the city.

An initiative of the Tamil Nadu Prisons Department, the first Freedom Bazaar was inaugurated at the Puzhal Prison complex on Deepavali, and was followed by another in the prison complex in Vellore.

The third in the State and the first in the city, the Freedom Bazaar was opened on Pongal inside the CMDA Tower at the Office of the Additional Director General of Police (Prisons).

Outlet in-charge and Assistant Jailor of Puzhal Prison R. Gunasekar states the response so far has been “outstanding.”

“Organic vegetables sourced from Puzhal and Vellore prisons are the most sought-after followed by bakery products,” he said.

Shirts tailored by inmates of Palayamkottai prison, kids wear and candles made by convicts in Tiruchi, raincoats from Coimbatore prison and handicrafts, shoes, belts, watchstraps, wallets and other leather goods from Vellore prison inmates fill the racks at the Bazaar.

“Stock arrives daily, according to the sales here. We are struggling to keep up with the mounting demand for vegetables grown in the Puzhal and Vellore complexes with natural manure and clean water,” the Assistant Jailor added.

A collection of paintings by life term convicts are also on display with each piece costing anywhere between Rs. 250 and Rs. 1,000.

Freedom Bazaar is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

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