July 1, 2019
‘Nyayadhin Bandi Kothdi,’ says a board tucked away in a secluded corner of the Sessions Court complex at Shivajinagar, Pune. That is where the under-trial prisoners who are produced in court are kept in transit from Yerwada Jail. Anxious relatives braved the rain on Thursday (27 June) to get a glimpse of their family members, but a thunderstorm put paid to that. Under-trial prisoners here are escorted to court, tied with thick rope, against Supreme Court rulings. However, the police are more careful with regard to the nine arrested in the high-profile Bhima Koregaon case where they seem to obey the law.
Among those who waited that day was Tushar Kanti, husband of Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, one of those in prison. He had not gone to the jail to meet his wife and he was waiting for the court proceedings that day which were pushed to 3 pm. He said the jail did not provide even chairs for prisoners and they had to sit on the ground. It took three months after some failed attempts to get a chair for Sen with due permission as she has arthritis and finds it difficult to sit on the ground. Now, there is a chair placed in her cell.
The jail also does not have beds, and inmates sleep on blankets on the ground. In the case of 79-year-old poet Vara Vara Rao, also among those arrested, the hard, cold floor is not kind to his age. He is no stranger to jail and has been arrested before. Yet this time, even he is surprised and discomfited by the jail conditions.