Jail conditions inhumane
New Delhi—A prisoner dies every five and a half hours which highlights the neglect, violence and personal tragedy behind prison walls in India.
The stark reality and grim story was revealed in two unique reports on the state of prison monitoring in India released here at a national consultation by former bureaucrat and Chairman of National Minorities Commission, Wajahat Habibullah.
Pointing to the dire consequences of unreformed prisons, Habibullah said that many Kashmiri minors who had been arrested during an earlier outbreak of violence in Kashmir a decade back had emerged as some of the leaders of the current uprising in the Valley. He said this was a probable outcome of minors being held with hardened criminals instead of juvenile detention homes as should have happened under law.
Habibullah had recently visited Kashmir along with a delegation to assess the situation where mass uprising is going on since July this year.
He said these two reports on the state of prison monitoring in India underline how a lack of review has led to an alarming conditions in jails. The reports were bolstered by an impassioned indictment of the system by a senior academic who herself had been imprisoned.
Professor Shamim Modi from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai spoke movingly about her own ordeal as an under-trial when she was an activist in Madhya Pradesh.
“In prison you have to accept the fact that you are not human. They put you in to set you right,” said Professor Modi. When she complained of rats biting her toes at night she was told not to expect hotel comforts. She went on to speak about health check-ups conducted in public view to humiliate inmates.
Other speakers at the event included Harsh Mander, Director, Centre for Equity Studies, Maja Daruwala, Senior Advisor at CHRI and Aman Hingorani, the Senior Advocate on Record at the Supreme Court.—KMS