Shimla Book Cafe is a restaurant with a difference in Himachal Pradesh
Shimla: A pleasant weather during summer is not the only speciality of this capital town of Himachal Pradesh. A cafe where life convicts serve customers is another.
Named Book Cafe, the restaurant mainly serves bakery products like pizza, biscuit and cake. In another corner of this eatery, books and magazines are stacked for those who have plenty of time at their disposal. Wi-Fi is a new facility which has been offered now in this unique place.
Lately, it has become a big draw for two reasons: one, quality of the stuff served and two, free moving prisoners to whom many like to meet and talk to know their side of the story. They have helped business grow. Presently, the restaurant collects nearly four thousand rupees a day.
They number four and work in eight-hour shift of two each. Shimla jail authorities allowed them to move out under a reform plan because of their good behaviour which is aimed at rehabilitation of prisoners after the jail term--- fourteen years with grant of remission by the government.
Some other prisoners have been also chosen under the plan but they have been sent to other places for training and future rehabilitation.
Training has been also given to these four prisoners in a star hotel here before sending them to the cafe. Every visitor talked to found them good and wondered why they were booked for murder.
Each one has a different story to tell-- different from the government version. Two of them belong to drought-prone Hamirpur district in Uttar Pradesh. Of the four, the case of Yograj stands out.
He is a victim of circumstances and should provide a lesson to those who boast that company does not matter. He was arrested and jailed for not committing any crime but for unknowingly befriending a criminal-minded youth.
His crime was that he was present at the spot where his friend murdered another due to a personal enmity. He was asked to accompany him which he did , not suspecting any foul play. He was not aware that this friend had a criminal background.
The year was 2011 when he was just a few months away from obtaining a bachelor's degree. A bad company has landed him in jail instead of a job centre.