In the room
“ Mr. D, you are under arrest for lewd comments that have hurt the religious sentiments of the people of the country.” These are the words I heard, five minutes after being rudely awakened by two police officers who had barged into my room, without permission, and even before I could gather my senses after being woken up, inconsiderately, they were berating me with questions of their own, concerning everything, from my occupation to my personal relationships. After confirming my credentials, they arrest me. I try to throw a tantrum, telling them the ridiculousness of their actions, that they must have been mistaken. When this didn’t seem to effect the police hooligans, I tried to remind them that there is a law and procedure to be followed before making any arrest, and a warrant is required before breaking into a citizens home without permission. I must say I wasn’t very confident in the way I spoke to these police thugs, having heard of numerous instances of police brutality in our country, and around the world. My words, anyway, didn’t seem to effect them at all. One of the police officers, who had kept silent till them, stepped forward, standing in front of me, put his hand on my shoulder, saying, “ Sir, we deal with the law everyday, there is no need for you to teach us the law, just do as we say, and you may get through the ordeal with the least amount of pain inflicted on you. As you know, we also are only clogs in a machine, and don’t have any other options except arresting you, as has been ordered by the Superintendent of our police station.” All this the huge man said, all the while patting my shoulder lightly at first and then slowly increasing the pressure, so as warn me, of the pain he could inflict if I did not follow the orders of the officer. I, being a weak and cowardly man, all alone in my room, with no immediate acquaintances to contact, told them ill come with them to the police station without hassle, if they can just tell me what is it that I said or did, which has offended someone somewhere. To this the bulky police officer, who seemed now to have taken charge from the other officer, replied, “Sir, we don’t know what you said or did. All we are doing is following orders, and be calm, as all will be explained in the station and no guilt will be laden on you, until you have been proven guilty by the court of justice.” The everyday mumbo-jumbo from this officers mouth, told me that I won’t get anywhere with this person, so I dressed up, mumbling to myself about the lack of privacy, as the two officers wouldn’t even leave me alone a minute to change into something suitable from my nightgown, but what could I do? These were the people in charge, of authority, and a normal person against the machinery of the state, is like an ant in an ant colony, disposable.
In the Police station
I reach the police station with the two officers who immediately take me to the officer in charge. During the journey, my patience was thinning out, and anxiety and fear had replaced it. By the end of the journey, I had already had an outburst demanding the police officers tell me the reason for my arrest, and not just the charge, but the reason of the charge, that is, hurting the religious sentiment of the people, somewhere, wether religious or any other sort of sentiment, that people are prone to getting hurt through. The bulky police officer informs the superintendent of all that happened, in the room and the journey to the police station, stressing specially on the point that I was demanding to know what it was that I had said or done, which is now the cause of my arrest. The officer in charge asked the two officers to leave while he personally took charge of me.
I was silent all the while, just observing the officer in charge, a small man with a loud voice, and as the other two officers left, his loud voice addressed me, “ So, you wish to know what you have done to deserve this arrest, do you?” To which I promptly nodded my head in assent. The officer continued, “And, you are sure, you don’t have any idea of what it is, that you have done, to be arrested?” Again, I nodded my assent signifying I had no idea of my wrongdoing. The officer, now walked right up to me, reaching my shoulder, and before I could note anything else, he slapped me on my nose, before kicking my rear and my stomach with his foot that was booted. I start to writhe in pain, being a week man, these small indecencies and violence had now taken out all my fight, and I sat whimpering, crying in the corner, while the loud-short dynamo, who is the officer in charge went on a tirade addressing me and every other officer in the police station. “ How many outrageous, dirty, blasphemous sentences do you speak in a day, that you don’t remember what is it that you said that has caused a public outrage, hurt religious sentiments of your countrymen, and now you want me to defile my mouth by speaking out those dirty, blasphemous, and highly immoral and unethical words that you spoke in public, out loud in my police station. Damn You! Another word from you, and you will get another smacking from me but don’t worry you goon, you will have all your answers in the courts, but before that please, I ask you, not to make me repeat your vile hurting language from my mouth, in front of my colleagues and juniors.” Finishing his loud tirade, he had gone red and his breath heavy. He called the bulky junior officer, whom he asked, to throw me into the cellar, To which the junior quickly came towards me, a smirk on his face, picked me up by the collar, and leading me to the cellar, pushed me inside, and locked the cell.
In the Cellar
In the cellar, I stayed in the position in which the police officer’s push had landed me in, just looking at the dusty sweaty floor, which was spotted with blood marks and stank of urine. Paralyzed, I didn’t move until a voice on the other side of the cellar pulled me out of my trance. “ What did you do?” The voice asked me, to which I replied, “hurt religious sentiments through my words.” , to which his first follow up question was, “ What did you say?” This question made me look at him, a face covered with a beard, with only his smile, which seemed to me sarcastic, was visible. His smile made me think that he was mocking me, and in my present condition, I thought it best to keep to myself. My smiling bearded cellmate, didn’t seem to be affected at all by my silence as he carried on, yammering, without any answer from me. He was saying something like, “ The laws are for the criminals, and criminals are made through laws. I can make anyone a criminal, just write in the book which identifies these crimes that anyone who breathes is a criminal and shall be punished by taking his breath away.” After saying this, he went into a demented laugh and after finishing with his demented fit, he went on another nonsensical rant. Soon, he was just background noice to me, as I came to terms with my situation and how it had changed in a matter of three hours.
In the court
The justice system of our country is very swift, especially for cases such as mine. The next day, within twenty four hours, I was taken to the magistrate. The magistrate charged me with the crime of “lewd comments hurting the religious sentiments of the people of the country.” I had been thinking that in this circumstance, the judge would also retell the lewd remarks that I was being tried for, in this juncture, but no such detail was added while I was charged. While the magistrate, as is custom, gave me a chance to speak out in my defense, exasperated, I spoke with an airy rasp, “ Your Lordship, I would love to defend myself, if only, sir, you could tell me what the lewd comments I have been charged for are, and how the same has offended religious sensibilities or insensibilities of the people somehow, somewhere.” The magistrate, at my statement, seemed to turn red, or as red as possible for his brown face, and his mustache that seemed so neatly combed down till now, seemed to stand, spiky. After clearing his throat, he stated, for the record, “Mr. D, your persisted attempts of denying any knowledge of the blasphemous lewd comments, have convinced me, that you are unrepentant in the adversity you claim to be facing, and your efforts to corrupt the society, continue even in the court of justice, as you repeatedly request other god fearing, law abiding citizens of this country, to speak of matters immoral and unethical, even when we persist not to repeat the lewd and blasphemous comments you made, which now you have been charged for, and are under trial for the same.”
The treatment afforded to me in the court, just about sapped any faith that I had left in the system, and the denial of my bail, by the magistrate, took away whatever fight I had for myself, for justice, and against the system, which I think was doing me wrong. By the end of the month, I was sent to central jail, as a prison mate, until the court paroled me. I, under the system, let my body be dragged around, when I didn’t feel like listening, and let myself become a robot, just obeying the command of whoever was in charge of making my life as miserable as possible.
In Central Jail
After a few months in Central jail, where amongst other inmates, I was at first, very frightened, when I realized I will be with the biggest criminals in the country. I, timid, scared and cowardly me, against the biggest criminals of the country gave me goosebumps, but I had no choice, so I kept my head down and only answered when asked upon by other cellmates. The most common question being what did I do, or speak to hurt religious sentiments. My reply always the same, “Nothing, that I know of, in particular.” This always seemed to bring a smile at the inmates faces who were listening to me. Slowly, I gathered the courage to ask them their offenses. To my surprise, all of them seemed to be innocent, and none of them knew of the crime they had committed. My neighbor in the dormitory had been charged for murder, but he swears so sincerely, that he does not know whom he has been charged of murdering. Another, jail mate, who had been given kitchen duty to make bread alongside, also didn’t now whom he had defrauded, but he had been charged with fraud. Slowly, I realized that none of them are culpable or all of them are lying. I knew I wasn’t lying, so I took the more convenient option, as now my culpability was intrinsically attached to them, through acquaintance. This though made me smile, and I understood why all the other inmates laughed when I said that I was innocent, that I didn’t know the lewd comments I had been charged for, and all the rest of it. Now, here I was, with my fellow criminals, who like me were also innocent of any crime, except the crime that the state says we committed. The futility of my repetition of innocence dawned on me, and every time an inmate comes and complains of his innocence and how he has been hard done by, I can do nothing but smile like all the other innocent inmates of the central jail.