Jails in India as filling up fast. It’s amazing to see so many politicians trooping in out of jails as people do going in and coming out after seeing the Taj Mahal. Except that in this case there is a compulsory period of stay as decreed by the courts. And Tihar is no Taj.
South Indians in particular seem to be the more ‘hep’ crowd and one hears Saravana Bhavan in planning on opening a branch in Tihar Jail. One also hears that the warden and jailers have a change in uniform – dhotis instead of starched knickers.
Once upon a time there were actual convicts being sent to prison; you know, murderers, arsonists, rapists, thieves, etc. But, with changing times that tribe is on the verge of extinction.
These days the crowd is rather elite and consists of MLAs, Ministers, not to mention Bureaucrats and low-level Babus, who, unfortunately, end up in the regular barracks peeing and pooping in an open toilet with a dozen others in the same cell.
The off-take in the air-conditioners market has improved too. These people don’t fall under the ‘aam-admi’ category and hence entitled to certain special privileges, such as attached toilets, TVs, including food from home for some who get upset stomachs eating outside food.
Can you imagine your local ‘neta’ sweating it out in a 10 x 15 VIP cell in the oppressive heat of some 40-plus degrees centigrade without A/c? Not a chance.
What amazes me is that our system is such that once they are out on bail, they can attend Parliament. They laugh and joke sharing jail experiences and there is that broad grin whenever TV cameras are focused on them. I sometimes wonder what is that news channels find so interesting to focus on jailbirds?
But I guess bail is important. I presume its the time to quickly destroy evidence, count the stashed loot and transfer it from one place to another, leaving no traces behind. And I presume bail is also the time to call up witnesses, sweet talk them, bribe them, threaten them so that they turn hostile.
A witness who initially swore on his mother, father, the entire family tree that so-and-so did commit the crime, suddenly turns turtle and says, ‘What crime?’
And in no time he’s sold or gifted his rickety bicycle to the cobbler and bought himself an Innova, moved out of his tiled-roof house to a swanky apartment in an upmarket locality and his children removed from the Corporation School are now chauffeur-driven in a Nissan to an English Convent.
Life’s what you make of it!