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A Shimla cafe where prisoners serve pizzas

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Shimla cafe
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Shimla, April 17: It’s a real life scene right out of reel life.

Hindi films “Karma” and “Do Aankhen Barah Haath” showed convicts being taken out of prison to be reformed. Now, in Shimla’s first Book Cafe inmates of a sub-jail near here are trained by a renowned hotel to serve cookies and pizza they have baked.

The cafe, with a seating capacity of 40 and constructed at a cost of Rs 20 lakh, was opened by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh last week.

It is located right above the Ridge — once the promenade for the British colonial rulers when this city was their summer capital — and on the way to the famed Jakhu temple.

The four who run the cafe are Jai Chand, Yog Raj, Ram Lal and Raj Kumar, all of whom are serving life imprisonment at the Kaithu jail near Shimla, Director General (Prisons) Somesh Goyal told IANS.

The first-of-its-kind cafe in the country is funded by the state’s Tourism Department. It is open daily from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. At night, the prisoners return to the jail.

Goyal, who has also been credited with reforming prisoners through music, said employing prisoners at the cafe was an attempt to rehabilitate them.

“This cafe has given us the chance to connect to the world,” Jai Chand told IANS.

Another beaming jail inmate, Yog Raj, said this cafe had given them a chance to get employment once they walk out of the prison.

“This is being run by four of us independently. Even the visitors, the locals, don’t show any apprehension while interacting with us. Indeed, they are keen to know more about our radical transformation,” he added.

Most of the time, the cafe, which offers free Wi-Fi access, is occupied by visitors reading books on wildlife, environment, tourism and Shimla’s history while sipping coffee.

It has books of authors like Chetan Bhagat, Nikita Singh, and French novelist Jules Verne, besides educational books, magazines and newspapers.

“The cafe has a good collection of books of national and international authors,” Shimla Deputy Mayor Tikender Panwar said.

For tourist Rewti Menon and her husband John Philip, it was a unique experience to interact with the prisoners.

“This cafe has given them another opportunity to live with dignity. Such experiments with an extensive support network will deter them from returning to crime,” Philip said.

Last year, 10 inmates of the Central Jail in Nahan in Sirmaur district performed at the Gaiety Theatre here at a public function.

And the Chief Minister was among those who enjoyed their performance.

According to jail authorities, five of the 10 prisoners are undergoing life sentence for murder and two are facing trial under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

Special music classes were organised by prison authorities for almost a month to train the inmates in singing and playing instruments.

They sang Himachali folk songs, qawwali and Sufiana songs of Bollywood movies.

By- Vishal Gulati

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])

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Sonia, Priyanka meet Rahul

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Rahul Gandhi, File Photo

New Delhi, Dec 18: Amid the BJP’s election victories in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, former Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi met Congress President Rahul Gandhi here on Monday.

Rahul Gandhi had campaigned in Gujarat extensively before assuming the charge of party President on December 16. After Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka left, Rahul Gandhi went to attend Parliament.

The BJP retained power in Gujarat and ousted the Congress in Himachal Pradesh.

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Balochistan: 8 killed, several injured in Quetta Church blast

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Quetta Blast (Photo- Dawn)

A blast in Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta of Balochistan claimed 8 lives. Meanwhile almost 44 people are injured.

According to pakistani media Gunshots were also heard at the site, where the explosion took place.

All casualties were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta.

Pakistani news paper Dawn confirmed that Four suicide attackers struck while church service was ongoing. Initial reports suggested an explosion took place, which was followed by a sustained gunfight.

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Parliament winter session adjourned till 18th December

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Parliament of India

New Delhi, 15th December: Rajyasabha adjourned till 11 am on 18th December after MLAs kept shouting and sloganeering. Before adjourning the house the Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien asked all MLAs if they don’t want private Members’ Bills. Replying to the deputy chairman the members said ‘no.’

Private Bills to be introduced in Rajyasabha 

Vinay P. Sahasrabuddhe (BJP) to introduce The Educational Innovations Commission Bill, 2017.

V. Vijaysai Reddy (YSR Congress) introduces The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (insertion of new article 21B), The Prevention of Enforced Disappearance Bill, 2017 and The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017.

T. Subbarami Reddy(Congress) introduces The Flood and Drought Control Bill, 2017 and The Play Schools (Regulation) Bill, 2017.

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool Congress) introduces The Bail Bill, 2017 and The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (amendment of article 366).

Narayan Lal Panchariya (BJP) The Vedic Education (Compulsory Teaching in Educational Institutions) Bill, 2017, The Solar Power (Development, Promotion and Mandatory Use) Bill, 2017 and The Judicial Statistics Bill, 2017

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad raises the issue of PM Modi’s allegations against former PM (Manmohan Singh) & others of conspiring with Pakistan for Gujarat Election 2017, says, ‘ye sadharan aarop nahi hai.’ House adjourned till 2:30 pm.

Members of Rajyasabha on the first day of Winter session raised issue of Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar’s disqualification. ‘Taanashahi nahin chalegi’ slogans raised by opposition, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said ‘All in Well, not well!’. House adjourned till 12 noon.

Vijay Goel of the BJP makes a statement on government business from December 18, 2017. He lists the Bills the government has had passed by the Lok Sabha, pending in the Rajya Sabha.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduces the newly inducted Cabinet Ministers, in Rajya Sabha. Earlier today, he introduced them in Lok Sabha.

Lok Sabha adjourned till 18th December 11 AM, after obituary references.

Vice chairman of Rajyasabha and Loksabha speaker read obituary references after the start of parilament session with National anthem.

Earlier Prime minister Narendra Modi has hoped for productive outcomes from the session . Talking to media PM Modi said, “I have faith & all-party meeting y’day shared same idea that this Parliament session should be held with positive approach to move the country forward. I also hope that country will be benefited & democracy will be strengthened from the session: PM Modi ahead of winter session.”

Meanwhile after a meeting on Thursday(14th December) the opposition discussed startegy to encirlce the government over various issues like Rafael Deal, GST, Iflation etc.

Amit Shah is also making his first parliament debut through Rajyasabha from this winter session. This session will also  be the first full-fledged session chaired by the recently-elected Vice President M. Venkiah Naidu.

This partliament session is the shortest of all winter sessions from last 2 decades. Opposition parties also criticised the government for compromising with parliament session for political gain.

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