Prisoners’ anguish

A lifetime lost...Left with no speech, no memory, no family (photo courtesy The News)

A lifetime lost...Left with no speech, no memory, no family (photo courtesy The News)

An 85-year old man acquitted after 38 years in prison has little to live for – he has lost his speech and memory, and is now being cared for by Christian missionaries at a shelter in Malir, Karachi.

See ‘The News‘ editorial 38 years .

The same day as news of Saeed-ul-Haq’s acquittal was published, newspapers reported that a Pakistani had been ‘tortured to death’ in an Indian prison. M. Nawaz Jamil had been a student of class 9 in 1991 when Indian troops arrested him along the Line of Control. He ended up serving far more than the six years he was sentenced for. This is what Indians regularly do to Pakistani prisoners and vice versa.

As I wrote in an article last December, ‘Media falls into old trap’):
Prison conditions and how the police treat prisoners in both countries are no secret. It is not that we treat Indian prisoners well, while they viciously torture Pakistanis. Sometimes a prisoner’s death results not from outright torture but illness arising from neglect — poor living conditions in a hostile environment, extreme temperatures, lack of medical attention, all compounded by lack of contact with loved ones back home.

There have been many instances of Pakistani prisoners dying in Indian prisons and vice versa. But what strikes me is the cruelty with which we treat our own prisoners, as the case of Saeed ul Haq shows. Not to mention all those other deaths in custody that periodically surface.

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