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I was in jail for 12 years for nothing: A graphic retelling of prison horror

This is the story of Aparajita Basu who was arrested in 2000 on charges of murdering her husband.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2017 15:13 IST
Women's Prison,Women's Jail,Presidency Jail
Aparajita Basu was arrested in 2000 on charges of murdering her husband.

Aparajita Basu was arrested in 2000 on charges of murdering her husband and thrown into Kolkata’s fearsome Presidency Jail. Over the next 12 years, she saw facilities for women transform: From a dingy ward with a single fan to an expansive all-women jail where inmates could get food and medicines on time.

The condition of women’s prisons in India is abysmal. Read our long-form story exploring the reality of women’s prisons.

In the 12 years Basu spent in jail, she lost her father and spent numerous days in court waiting for her case to be heard. She was finally acquitted in 2013. This is her story.

My time behind bars: A first-person account
At Presidency Jail, Kolkata, women were confined to one ward until 2008, with little access to the rest of the facility. A former inmate spoke to HT about her time there, her relief at being moved to a women’s prison, and the many innocents like her who remain trapped
I went to Presidency Jail in June 2000 on charges of murdering my husband. I feared I would never get out.
On Day 1, what I saw shocked me. There was one light and one fan. There was one room and 45 women in it.
There was one kitchen for around 2,500 prisoners.
Women were restricted to one ward. We had little access to the entire facility.
Everything changed in 2008, when we moved to a women-only facility in Alipore. Here, we had a kitchen where we could get better food. Sometimes, we even got delicacies like dal-er bora.
The next year, during Pujo, we got two printed saris instead of plain – that little touch of colour made all the difference.
The medical facilities were better: Many women could get even expensive medicines their families couldn’t afford. I was acquitted in December 2013 and walked out of jail.
But there was a shock waiting for me. I couldn’t get a job... everyone thought of me as a criminal. Even my own son severed all contact. I was lucky. I had a supportive brother and a great lawyer.
I’m free, but many women don’t know anything about the case against them. They spend a lifetime inside jail.
ILLUSTRATION: MOHIT SUNEJA | GRAPHICS: HITESH MATHUR

First Published: Jul 23, 2017 12:22 IST