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Indians rot in illegal UAE jail

Many Indians are rotting in illegal cells in the Al-Wathba Central Prison, United Arab Emirates. Citizen Reporter Shali Ittaman recounts the story in the words of those released.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2004 00:51 IST

Former inmates of Al Wathba say it has 10 secret blocks where nearly 2,000 people from the Third World countries are being held like medieval slaves, mostly for crimes they have not committed.

Many of them are Indians. Some of them are women and some of them are teenaged boys. Almost all of them have been detenues for years. George Titus Valliazam, a banker from Kerala, has been a prisoner in Al Wathba since 1986. For 17 years he has shared with nine prisoners a 10-by-10 nondescript cell. The block where his cell is located has 200 prisoners who are forced to live in inhuman conditions with rudimentary toilets and faulty plumbing.

Valliazam eats two coarse meals a day, wears a gunny jail jersey (rarely gets a change), does the laundry, sweeps the floor, cleans clogged toilets, and yet, gets routinely flogged. Every night, he retires to his unventilated cell to sleep on the scorching floor. His wife and daughters, whom he left behind in Kerala for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), still wait for him. They know he is languishing in Al Wathba but it is a truth they haven't told their neighbours.

First Published: Mar 24, 2004 00:51 IST