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Hope Behind Bars: Book throws light on lives of prisoners in Indian jails

Hope Behind Bars: Book throws light on lives of prisoners in Indian jails

New Delhi: Bringing prisoners' lives and liberties to the heart of public debate and policies, a new collection of essays, "Hope Behind Bars: Notes from Indian Prisons", gives readers valuable insights into the vexed idea of incarceration.

The collection of essays -- written by a retired Supreme Court judge, former prison administrators, lawyers, journalists, academicians, researchers, a former prisoner and leaders of grassroots organisations -- is edited by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) director Sanjoy Hazarika and head of CHRI's prison reforms programme Madhurima Dhanuka.

Published by PAN Macmillan India, the book aims to shed light on the "opaqueness of the system, making it not just more humane but also showing what can be achieved within the current ambits of the law, despite the infirmities of creaky and ineffective processes".

"A prison is a world of its own, where residents live without the support systems that those on the outside take for granted. Prisoners hope and will each day to be their last in confinement. We believe that the stories in 'Hope Behind Bars' provide insight into lives less ordinary," wrote the editors in the introduction of the book.

Retired Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur, celebrated SC human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover, journalist Sunetra Choudhury and CHRI researchers Sabika Abbas, Sugandha Mathur and Amrita Paul are among the authors whose works are featured in the book.

It includes a powerful essay on the rights of vulnerable prisoners, write up on the challenges of establishing a prison training institute, the critical need to train prison officials and the gut-wrenching story of Wahid -- who spent ten years in prison on a terrorism case before a court pronounced him innocent -- where he talks of custodial violence, torture and police arbitrariness.

"Vrinda Grover traces how she navigated the ups and downs, twists and turns of the Hashimpura killings case, which took thirty years to conclude: the case involved the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), which was charged with gunning down forty-two Muslims in the Hashimpura area of Muzaffarnagar, less than a hundred kilometres from New Delhi.

"The perils of prolonged judicial delays were underlined in this case three of the accused died during this period," wrote the editors while talking about one of the chapters in the book.

"Hope Behind Bars: Notes from Indian Prisons", priced at Rs 412, is presently available for sale on online and offline stores.

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TAGS:New BookNew ReleaseIndian Jails
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