Chhattisgarh: Padma’s letter from Jagdalpur Central Jail on unending imprisonment

September 21, 2015

[This a translated version of the original letter. -Ed]

To: The District Legal Service Authority, Kondagaon, Chhattisgarh State.

I am Padma, w/o Balkrishna, presently lodged in Jagdalpur Central Jail as an undertrial prisoner from 13th August 2007.

Sir, I humbly submit that I have been in prison since 7 years and 9 months. On 3rd August 2007 the police arrested me on the basis of mere suspicion. They kept me for long – 10 days – in illegal custody. On 13.08.2007 I was shown as an accused in Crime No. 17/6 and sent to Jagdalpur Central Jail on the same day. The Sessions Court of Dantewada, roughly after 2 years of trial, i.e on 10.08.2009, acquitted me.

As per rules, immediately after my acquittal, I was to be taken to Jagdalpur jail and after completing the formalities in jail I should have been released on that day itself. But police took me to various police stations and to several courts trying to get a fake warrant on me.

Taking varied pretexts they kept me in their custody for 36 hours. Meanwhile they managed to get a warrant on 11th August 2009. Instead of taking me back to (Jagdalpur) jail, they took me to Raipur Central Jail on 11th night between 11 and 12 o’clock. The next day they finished formalities in a hurry. No sooner than I stepped out from the low height jail gate, a posse of policemen already present in an encircled position arrested me on a warrant they labored to procure the previous day.

Approximately after a month, on 06.09.2009, the Assistant Sub Inspector of Madded Police Station of Bijapur district came inside the women’s jail of Raipur. He began interrogating me regarding an incident of January 2007 and filled up a form.

Gradually, cases began piling up on me. In January 2010, the Session Judge of Jagdalpur issued a warrant wherein I was arraigned in a criminal case of 1989. This case belongs to Bhopalpatnam Police Station of Bijapur district.

By the evening of 17.12.2014, I was acquitted in the last pending case, by the Jagdalpur Sessions Court. The judgment was given at 4.30pm. Despite the fact that I was back well in time (at 7pm) so as to be able to be released that night itself, the jail authorities locked me up before time, denying my release on that evening itself. After being sure about the police arrival before the jail gate, Jagdalpur prison authorities completed the formalities quickly and released me, the next day.

The police present before the jail told my advocate that a 1998 warrant of Narainpur was pending against me. That could be withdrawn if my lawyer could talk to the IG (SRP Kalluri), they said. With this pretext, they kept me in detention unauthorizedly in Jagdalpur Kotwali Police Station.

Police belonging to Narainpur Kotwali PS began asking personal details and filled up papers. Around 1 pm, on 18.12.2014, they showed formal arrest and produced me before a judicial magistrate. They got me to sign on papers saying that two more matters were peding in matters related to 2nd Additional Sessions Court, Jagdalpur.

From there they took me to the 3rd Additional Sessions Court, Jagdalpur, saying that there was a criminal case pending in Benur PS of Narainpur District.

I made an oral submission to the magistrate about the police behavior towards me and about the long remand period that I had undergone so far.

In 2007, I was in illegal detention before my production in the court for 10 days. Apart from Chhattisgarh police, intelligence personnel from various states descended. They rained thousands of questions, verified voluminous records, yet they could not find an iota of solid evidence against me. No villagers identified me. I did not know a single village in Chhattisgarh, not to speak of entering these areas. But police was determined to send me to jail. They implicated me as an accused in Crime No. 17/06 (Sankapalli, Madded PS).

Raising ones voice against unjustified incarceration seems to be a sin. New cases had been foisted one after another.

On 18.12.2014, it was my third arrest in these seven and a half years. While being in court, the police could create 4 warrants within a few hours of time. Next day, i.e on 19.12.2014 at 7pm, Jail administration called me to the warrants branch. There were two unknown persons, who later identified themselves as the ASIs of Farasgarh PS and Madded PS.

They said, “On 17.12.2014, Bastar region IG sent a wireless message to all police stations to verify if there are any cases against you.” After thorough search these two ASIs found two cases – one of 2004 another of year 2008 of Farsagarh PS; and one of 2010 concerning Madded PS on Padma w/o unknown. I placed my arguments and left to their discretion to register or refrain. I asked them if you don’t want to register those cases on me, at least give in writing clearly that you had decided not to implicate me as an accused in these cases now, and even after my release. They replied that they would report it to their higher authorities. Till today, there is no response from them.

On 24th January 2015, when I was in the 3rd Additional Sessions Judge’s court, the court was informed by one person that I should be present in the 2nd Additional Session Judge’s court too, after the proceedings were completed in the 3rd Additional Sessions Judge’s court.

When I was produced in the 2nd Additional Sessions Judge’s court, the Hon’ble Judge informed me that th name of Padma was present in a chargesheet concerning two incidents under Mardum PS of Bastar district. I submitted that the name of Padma that was referred to in the charge sheet does not match either with my father’s name or with my address. I requested the court to discharge me from these matters.

On 7th Feb 2015, the jail administration called me and showed a production warrant issued by JMFC (Judicial Magistrate First Class) Jagdalpur. According to the warrant, there was an incident in the year 1992 that happened in Usur PS of Bijapur district registered as Crime No. 736/92 under various sections of the IPC.

The accused is Padmakka@ Satyanna, w/o Gopanna, Address Dushangabad, district Karimnagar. The warrant says if Padmakka is in confinement she should be produced in the said court. If she is not in confinement, information should be given to the court.

Except the name, no other details matched. In 1992, I was studying in 12th Standard. I gave all the details regarding my study and on 12.02.2015 I sent an application to the JMFC. There is no reply from the JMFC.

On 19.12.2014, Rowghat PS of Kanker district , sent one message that has reached me through the jail authority. The message says that there is a warrant pending against Padma @Padmakka (woman Naxalite, Keshkal dalam) involved in Crime no. 15/97 under various sections of the IPC and Sec 25, 27 Arms Act. I got this message on 16.02.2015.

Incessant flow of such warrants took toll of my mental as well as physical health. The Hon’ble Judge declared in 2009 that I was arrested in 2007 on the basis of suspicion. Instead of admitting their mistake, even after my acquittal, fake cases were continuously foisted on me, trampling my fundamental rights.

The crime numbers 17/06 that was foisted on me in 2007; and 5/07 and 31/06 that were foisted on me in 2009 – are from one and the same police station. Incidents too occurred within a span of 4-5 months only. In the Crime No. 31/06, on 25/07/2009 FIR had been registered with the names who were absconding. If I was the said Padma, I was in the custody of the same police station during that period and later I was in judicial custody. The aim of the police is to finish off my freedom.

In 1989 in Bhopalpatnam area of Bijapur district an incident happened. In that incident one Padma of 25-27 years was involved. (The author of this letter would have been 15 in that year.) Police, knowing fully well that these warrants are fabricated are misusing their powers to implicate innocent people. The imprisonment is causing broken families, wastage of lives for years together. Valuable period lost through unjustified prison life can never come back. Not just the physical confinement, it is the daily insult and humiliation that extinguishes any possible development of the prisoners. Of course, being in prison, one must be away from the normal needs of life. Even when your rights are being trampled, you have to keep silent. Asking for regular court attendance is also a crime in the eyes of the jail and police administration. In these conditions, how can a prisoner maintain a semblance of peace in jail?

This life laden with lament cannot be depicted in an application like this. When a High Court judge states that “whenever injustice or arbitrariness occurs, the court should intervene”, hope lingers on. We feel relieved since we think that someone is there to listen to our woes. We need a modicum of hope to take our struggle against police high handedness and impunity to the place where justice could be dispersed. I hope you will help in getting justice.

If you are in incarceration beyond a limit, you are sure to end up in agony and tension. I am becoming unwell physically and psychologically, because of the unending confinement in the prison. My family too has to live in anxiety. I have an aged mother to care for. My concerns revolve around her. She cannot come to meet me because of financial reasons, other reason being language problem. Since years, I am longing to hear my near and dear ones.

Despite spending years as an undertrial, being repeatedly deprived of my freedom after each acquittal of the last pending case by bringing fake warrants, this whole exercise of re-arrests is squashing my human rights resulting in a colossal travesty of justice.

Hence, I request you to take my plea to the High Court for a declaration that the present detention is illegal. Help protect human rights so that confidence in the judicial system gets enhanced. Help me in leading a life with dignity by getting me out from this endless imprisonment. Please take my plea to the High Court. Also see to it that I get all the documents of the cases that are foisted afresh on me.

Looking forward to get a positive response from you,
Sincerely yours,
Padma W/o Balakrishna.
Jagdalpur , 05.05.2015.