AN EYE-OPENING READ!!!!
Kobad Gandhy was a bright student since childhood. An alumnus of Doon School, he went to London for his Chartered Accountancy in 1968. In 1972, he was tried in a London Court for protesting against racism.
After returning to India, instead of choosing a cozy corporate job as befit contemporaries of his time in this profession, he started to work for the downtrodden and the Have-Not’s of society along with his wife Anu. Anuradha (Anu), a woman of steel, was a student leader at Elphinstone College. Anu had deep-rooted links with communism. Her uncle was a two-time CPI MLA from Aurangabad while on the other hand, Kobad’s family was an elite Parsi household. Both families supported Kobad & Anuradha in all ways possible. Soon after, Kobad became an Indian Communist activist and ideologue. He was allegedly arrested on being a politburo member of the underground Communist Party of India (Maoist) in 2009. He was released almost a decade later in 2019 due to lack of evidence.
Section II of the book covers the past decade, when he resided in different jails across the length and breadth of India. His largest stint was in Tihar Jail where he spent almost seven years. Interestingly, he remained in these jails for approximately 10 years as an undertrial only. According to him, the conditions in Tihar jail were akin to hell. He was shifted to Hyderabad, Patiala, Vishakhapatnam, Jharkhand and Surat Jails as well. Kobad writes that the Jharkhand Jail was completely dependent on the convicts for running the place. “The few official staff comprised mainly of retired army personnel, who were available cheaply, getting paid a flat Rs. 20,000/- per month, with much unpaid overtime and little leave, they had, in addition, their monthly pension of Rs. 30,000/-. That is why, though new Jails are being commissioned, ever since the formation of Jharkhand in 2000, there has been just 250 new recruits to the jail staff in the entire state in these twenty – odd years of state history.”
He painstakingly recounts the medical systems, problems, and complexities in all of these Jails. He also shares some interesting anecdotes about different Parliamentarians, highly educated professionals, Terrorists, Marxists, Radicals and others from different walks of life whom he met in those 10 years. He also mentions about the 'Dons' with whom he interacted in these Jails.
He writes in detail about the slow Judicial procedures and the many fallacies present in our legal system. In most Democracies, people are jailed only after conviction but here in India, the jails are packed with undertrials, as compared to convicts.
The last part of the book talks about his reflections as well as the relevance of a good social justice system. He reminisces sadly about the subversion of happiness, freedom/democracy and good values by money and power.
The book gives you a birds eye view of the world viewed from a different lens altogether, where thousands of undertrials are living out their active lives, waiting for justice to wake up, open her eyes and uphold the truth. Has the sanctity of our judicial institutions been compromised, and the blood, sweat and ideals on which this country was built long forgotten? That’s the difficult question this book asks from you...