Spare a thought for the incarcerated

Jailed and the imprisoned are sitting at the mercy of the authorities. All talks of the so-called development don’t wash when our fellow jailed citizens are made to go through absolutely trying times by Humra Quraishi

In all the long and short speeches of those fighting the upcoming elections there seems little mention of the jailed. To be nearer precision: What efforts would be in place to ensure that there would be betterment or improvement in the living conditions of those amongst us sitting  jailed.

It is significant to take into account that in recent times there have been news reports of several prisoners getting infected with serious infectious ailments whilst jailed. Also, relays to over-crowded jail cells come up, with reports of prisoners attacking each other, or trying to break free from the overcrowded cells. And  definitely  not to  be overlooked the  fact  that  last fortnight, prisoner Mukhtar  Ansari’s  immediate  family accused the authorities of  poisoning Ansari …causing his death in that  jailed condition. They are not convinced by the ‘heart attack’ theory put forth by the authorities and are vetoing it all too completely. It is a very serious allegation. And needs immediate attention.

Jailed and the imprisoned are sitting at the mercy of the authorities. All talks of the so-called development seemed useless when our fellow jailed citizens are made to go through absolutely tough-trying times. Here it is significant to focus on what Mahatma Gandhi had  to say on the jailed … his views on those jailed are crucial and need to be relayed to the who’s who  manning the  very administrative system.

To quote Mahatma Gandhi from the November 1947 issue of  Harijan : “All criminals should be treated as patients and the jails should be hospitals admitting this class of patients for treatment and cure. No one commits crime for the fun of it. It is a sign of a diseased mind. The causes of a particular disease should be investigated and removed. They need not have palatial buildings when their jails become hospitals. No country can afford that, much less can a poor country like India. But the outlook of the jail staff should be that of physicians and nurses in a hospital. The prisoners should feel that the officials are their friends. They are there to help them regain their mental health and not to harass them in any way. The popular governments have to issue necessary orders, but meanwhile the jail staff can do not a little to humanize their administration.”


Prison conditions could have been better in those decades gone past. That explains why Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and several  other freedom fighters  could write such  significant volumes whilst  lodged in prisons during British rule.

Here, let me hasten to add that in recent years, the books I have read by former prisoners have been written by them when they were out of the prison confines…when they were set free from that imprisoned state. Why couldn’t they write volumes whilst jailed!

Several other basic factors to the prisoners keep hitting: Can they cry out for open-jails, where they can perhaps experience some level of free movement of their limbs, in a less stressed out environment and atmosphere? And with that, feel less caged. But even there, hundreds of mosquitoes could make life hell and hellish for them. And though the sarkar talks of killing hundreds of the hapless two-legged human beings in endless encounters but can’t kill the small four-legged mosquitoes! Strange reality of the times!

Also, stands out the fact that a large percentage of those imprisoned in the country are under-trials, so technically innocent, yet so many years of their lives are wasted, as they sit languishing in jails. Such a waste of those precious years, of precious human lives. Can there be counselling centres and counselling sessions for small time or the first time offenders? Can there be guidance and more along the strain, so that the young can be saved from traumas and their lives not wasted? Can there be an earnest call to save lives in the actual sense of the term?

Yes, instead of imprisonment there ought to be something called forgiveness and pardoning by the State, if there is genuine remorse and willingness to improve. Moving on still further, why not a complete ban on hangings. Yes, stopping the death penalty. Why kill, when the State cannot give birth or even sustain those born! Maybe an innocent hanged!

Also stands out the fact that even the convicted ones were not born criminals! Perhaps, circumstances drove them towards crime with disastrous offshoots. Also, petty criminals could be mere foot soldiers, seemingly under the control of the political mafia. Many a time, the naïve and young framed and with that their lives completely messed up, as they are then ‘used’ by the nexus and  mafia at  work. Master political players, untouched and un-arrested, whilst the naïve arrested and with that ruined for times to come.

Also stands the fact more Muslims are jailed –   more in terms of their population ratio! Why? What are the reasons for this dismal reality? Also, a connected fact: Why so many Meo men, from the Mewat region, are in jails?

There are so many dismal and dark realities…dark enough to make one sit up and introspect and question and query.