Convicts dance their way to Rs 30 lakh in 4 yrs
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A troupe of 41 people, who spend most of their time behind bars at correctional homes, have earned Rs 30 lakh by displaying their talent at performances across various states over the last four years.
The money they have raised is used for the education of poor prisoners' children and marriage of their daughters.
The prisoners are members of a troupe which performs Valmiki Pratibha — a dance drama written by Rabindranath Tagore. State correctional services department officials said that the troupe, which was formed in late 2008, has earned Rs 30 lakh by performing in states such as Maharashtra, Delhi and Orissa.
The performers — 34 men and seven women — are all convicts who stay at Presidency Correctional Home and Alipore Women Correctional Home.
"While 30 per cent of their earnings is deposited in the accounts of the performers, 70 per cent is spent for various purposes like education of children of prisoners and marriage of their daughters. This 70 per cent is kept in the Prisoners' Welfare Fund," DIG (administration) of state correctional services department Harihar Prasad Mondal told The Indian Express.
"The troupe has performed in more than 50 places so far. On 5 January, they will perform at Salt Lake during the Women Science Congress," the official said.
According to jail department sources, the troupe charges Rs 1 lakh for staging the dance drama. But the department gives a concession to organisers in special cases. The troupe recently performed during the 50-year celebrations of the Border Security Force at Rabindra Sadan. A performance in Bangladesh is on the cards.
The main performer of the dance drama, Nijel Okara, is a life convict who was recently granted bail by a higher court. "On the day of the show, he comes and performs," an official said. He was accused of hatching a murder conspiracy.