These women underwent training to run this Indian Oil Corporation outlet and would receive a salary of six thousand rupees. Officials say this would soon be revised to ten thousand.
The women are escorted back to the prison after their 8 hour shift. Local people and travellers who drive into this fuel station love the idea. Amudha a Tailor says “This can happen to anyone. People commit a crime in a situation. This gives them a sense of freedom than being in jail 24 x 7”. Basheer, who works for a corporate said “This helps them to mentally get out of the convict label. We as public too will start looking at them empathetically and accept them”. He added “I’d come here every time to fill fuel and to motivate them”.
Over the years, Tamil Nadu Prisons department is known for a few pioneering initiatives including promoting reading and education among prisoners. A novel book collection drive at book fairs across the state had received more than a lakh books as donation from public. Another programme “Art in Prison” exposes them to art forms including music and drama. Through a counselling programme for first time young remand prisoners, authorities have ensured around ten thousand of them did not turn into habitual offenders. Many have completed school and higher education behind bars. Nalini Sriharan, who was convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case had acquired a post graduate degree in computer applications (MCA) in jail before she was released.