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Products made in prisons pull crowd at DITF

by January 21, 2018 General

Excited about scoring a monochord for just Tk 70, Hafizur Rahman took a selfie outside of the stall at Dhaka International Trade Fair to share on the social media.

“I found the products in this stall very interesting,” said the second year student at Patiya Degree College of Chittagong.

The stall though is not like the 600 others at the fair: all the items on sale are made by the inmates of Bangladesh’s 38 prime jails like Dhaka, Mymensingh, Faridpur, Bogra, Kashimpur, Rangpur, Sylhet and Chittagong.

This is the first time that the Department of Prisons took a stall in DITF with a view to showing that the inmates can contribute to society if they are guided properly, said Syed Mohammad Jabed Hossain, now the pavilion manager at DITF.

The prisoners can make 300 different kinds of goods including wooden and rattan sofas, wall-hangings, purses, saris, musical instruments, jute products.

“The goods are being well received by the customers,” Hossain said, adding that a businessman from the Netherlands placed an order for 20,000 pieces of jute handbags at the stall.

The stall registers sales of about Tk 1 lakh every day, according to Md Hayatul Islam, an accountant of Dinajpur prison and an attendant at the DITF stall.

Half of the sales proceeds from the stall would be handed over to the prisoners or their relatives.

The general perception is that the jails are places for punishment only and that the prisoners are regimented by the jail authority, said Hossain, who is also a deputy jailer of Chittagong Central Prison.

“Our goal is to make the prisoners useful resources so that they can do something good with their lives after coming out from the jails,” he added.

Meanwhile, at the month-long event that began on January 1, wares from 17 countries, including China, the US, India, South Korea, Iran, Turkey, Nepal, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Iran, Pakistan, Mauritius, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, can be viewed.

The commerce ministry and the Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureau, the organisers, allocated about 50 stalls to foreign companies and the rest to locals.

The fair is open to visitors from 9am to 10pm. The entry fee for adults is Tk 30 and Tk 20 for minors.