When I just came out the bank, I saw a car standing a few 100 meters away on the side of the road. The trunk was wide open and filled with all sorts of food items. From the side of the car hung a sheet written in Hindi. Curiously, I approached the car a little closer. A neatly dressed man approached me and told me that he was selling these baked goods here as part of the Himachal Pradesh Correction Program as a convict of a prison in Shimla. The goods themselves were also manufactured by convicts under the same programme.
The 39-year-old Uttam Subbarwal not only seems very educated, is polite and speaks impressively good English, but is also very talkative.
He goes on to explain to me that the government gives every prisoner who has to serve a life sentence and behaved well, the opportunity to work “outside” during the day after 8 years in prison in order to integrate into society.
Lifelong? I listen and become more curious! So Uttam is also serving a life sentence? Why?
For murder. He says to me as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
Aha. I say and buy a pack of peanut biscuits.
It happened in college. Accidentally. He never wanted to kill anyone, but it happened.
He has now been in prison for 14 years. But he goes out every day to work and he has a total of 42 vacation days, which he uses to visit his family on the weekends.
If all goes well he’s out in 2 years. Then he wants to start his own business. After all, he did his master’s degree in business.
I wish him all the best and promise to come back, because the biscuits are not only cheap, but also delicious. I would also like to try the mango biscuits.