23 July, 2021

The Absence Of Air

A clinical, numbing record of how our 'justice' system subverts democracy

The Absence Of Air
Immediately after entering Delhi’s Tihar Jail, Iftikhar Gilani was beaten unconscious by a mob of jail officials and convicts. On regaining his faculties, he was ordered to use his blood-soaked shirt to wipe a filthy toilet and forced to wear the excreta-splattered shirt for the next three days. Gilani was kept in detention from June 2003 to January 2004 on false charges manufactured by the Intelligence Bureau. He was eventually released because he was a well-known journalist on whose behalf his media colleagues, members of Parliament and some Union cabinet ministers campaigned vociferously. He was fortunate. Thousands of innocent undertrials continue to remain in depraved Indian jails for years due to the criminalised police, prison and legal system which functions with impunity.

For those who mindlessly brag about the world’s largest democracy, Gilani’s factual report should be compulsory reading. A high-decibel election every few years becomes an empty populist ritual if not accompanied by working institutions which can ensure equality before the law and equal...

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