Has Hanuman ever interviewed Ram
There is no longer a bell, but it still rings in Jagjivan's head. At exactly three thirty in the morning she rings the doorbell and the old man is startled. He rises from his charpoy, a bed frame covered with ropes that stands under the thatched roof in front of his brother-in-law's house. He looks around in the darkness and sees the outlines of his sleeping brother-in-law, hears his grandson Sanjay breathing. No, there are no prisoners here, no barracks with fifty beds and barred windows, nor a guard who rings the bell at three-thirty and blows up anyone who doesn't stand to attention quickly enough. Here there is the village, the family, the fields. Jagjivan is back home. But part of him is still behind those six-meter-high walls behind which he lived more than half of his life. At just after five, dusk finally breaks. Jagjivan sits motionless on the bed frame. He looks out onto the village street, which passes directly in front of the house. Motorbikes rattle, the grandson comes back from feeding the five cattle that the family owns. Dressed in colorful saris, the women step out of the windowless brick house. Greetings to neighbors, but Jagjivan crouches as if petrified in the morning twilight, his large, gnarled hands clasped together. His cheeks are sunken, his eyes look out from under fluttering lids into space. "He's doing much better," says his brother-in-law, a toothless old man by the name of Ram Raj Yadav. Two months ago, when he got out of prison, Jagjivan was sometimes confused and no longer recognized his own family. He is still silent and melancholy, but slowly he is regaining a sense of everyday life, for its duties and small joys. "He now goes to the store himself to buy tobacco," explains the brother-in-law. "The other day he even visited old friends in the neighboring village." And yet it could happen at any time that demons and bad memories descend on Jagjivan's soul again. "Then he is no longer with us, even if he is sitting among us." It was January 29, 1968, a Monday when Jagjivan Ram Yadav was torn from his life: on that day he was arrested in his home village of Mithaura Uttar Pradesh state suspected of killing a neighbor with a machete. At the Faizabad county seat trial, the court found he suffered from mental disorders and transferred him to the Varanasi closed mental hospital before a verdict was passed. Forgotten by the judiciary and left to fate by the hospital management, Jagjivan remained imprisoned in the madhouse for almost four decades. It was only when a local reporter accidentally found out about Jagjivan's fate at the beginning of 2006 and reported on the case that the forgotten man was released on bail: With a white beard and unsteady steps, he stepped out of the gate of the Faizabad prison on February 14, wherever he was going transferred back and hugged his grown son, who had been a baby when Jagjivan was picked up. "My son, when you are that old - how old did I get?" He said in a barely audible voice. 700 people welcomed him when he returned to his village, including his wife Patto Devi, who was bowed by suffering, and a member of the state parliament. The case sparked a heated debate about the shortcomings of the Indian judiciary. While the interior minister of Uttar Pradesh spoke of a "tragic mistake by some low-ranking officials," Lalji Tandon, opposition leader in the state's parliament, asserted: "There is something wrong with our penal system!" how much the judiciary in India depends on the level of education and income of the accused. Time and again it happens that the lowest of society - like Jagjivan - become victims of a judicial system that treats them as second-class people and does not care about them in any way. The brother-in-law is harnessing two oxen. Later that day, he and Jagjivan have to go to Faizabad, where the murder trial, file number 68/15, which began in 1968, is due to end today, April 12, with the last interrogation. But the men will spend the cool morning hours in the field. Jagjivan is a good worker, he prefers to operate the hay knife, says the brother-in-law, pointing to a machine next to the house entrance, which consists of a large, cast-iron wheel and a blade. If you turn the wheel and at the same time push hay through an iron channel, it will be shredded into fodder. “Jagjivan likes the machine. But I have to tell him when to stop. Otherwise he turns on and on, even when there is no more hay in the gutter. ”Break Behind the oxen the two men cross the village, past meter-high pyramids made of cow dung, the temple of the god Hanuman and the stately home of the village chief. The soft light of the morning sun shines on yellow wheat stalks and green, towering sugar cane. Far into the distance women can be seen crouching down their ears; her saris create bright spots of color in the rich yellow of the grain fields. "The Heart of India" is what long-time BBC correspondent Mark Tully called the area in which Jagjivan's village is located - a particularly fertile part of the Ganges plain. The brother-in-law ties the ox to a board lying on the ground, Jagjivan stands on it and drives the animals across the tiny, recently harvested field to smooth the crumb. "Well, well," he calls out, but the sounds that come out of his throat are far too soft to make an impression on the draft animals. He clears his throat, tries again, looking for the volume of voices that he lost in all those years in the madhouse. His voice echoes more and more powerfully across the fields until it finally startles two peacocks that have sought refuge in a nearby grove. Back at his brother-in-law's house, Jagjivan sits down under the thatched roof and folds his legs over one another. His wife Patto Devi brings him a cup of water. They have been married for sixty years and, according to an old custom, the marriage was concluded when both were still children. Patto Devi wears a dark blue sari with a pink decorative border, a gold nose ring, several bracelets and an anklet. She used to be a beauty, but now the end of her saree covers a face that has left deep furrows from the past. A woman without a husband, also from a lower caste like the Yadavs, poorly regarded small farmers, is at the lower end of the social fabric in an Indian village. In the cities, the caste system has lost its importance, but the village society is still hierarchically precisely graduated. "Nobody can tell what I've been through," says Patto Devi in a barely audible voice and begins to cry. After Jagjivan's arrest, she went back to her parents' home with two young children and began working in the fields as a day laborer. She never heard from her husband again, no court, no authority informed her about his fate. Once when she asked the police, she was rudely turned away. Her daughter died, and when her son got older and asked about his father, she replied that the father was dead. The son left home when he was 15 to escape poverty, and when the village talked about Jagjivan, The people waved them off and said: "Unka to Kalapani ho gaya hoga." Terrible words: "We will never see him again", is the meaning of this saying, which refers to the dreaded Kalapani prison in the Andaman Islands, where the British Indian during colonial times Freedom fighters tortured. Still, Patto Devi refused to let the priest perform the funeral rites and put on a white sari as a widely visible sign of her widowhood. Every Saturday she went to the poplar fig in the middle of the village, a sacred tree, because legend has it that the god Vishnu once hid from evil demons in the crown of a poplar fig. She poured water on the clay base at the base of the tree, lit incense sticks, and walked around the trunk three times. For decades she asked the gods for her husband to return. "I am very happy that my request was granted," she says quietly. Most importantly, since Jagjivan returned home, she has got her honor back. Now the mutual trust that the couple lost in the decades of separation has to be restored. They are still cautious in their dealings, and they only exchange a few words a day. Patto Devi gets up and crouches a few meters further on, with his face averted. She has sat with the men for too long; in the village women and men spend their days largely apart. Jagjivan followed his wife's words with an expressionless expression. A dozen flies flit across the handkerchief that the motionless man is holding in his hands. A neighbor joins them, and from the breast pocket of his shirt he pulls a worn, multiply folded newspaper clipping: Below the text in Hindi is a photo of Jagjivan taken in prison. The prisoner looks out from behind thick iron bars with an unfathomable look.
Jagjivan jerked when he saw this photo. His slumped figure straightens up, his face, which was still waxy, is now contorted with pain. "I don't want to remember," he says. "I want to forget." But he does not succeed. Jagjivan talks about his time in the institution in a broken voice, but there are only fragments of memory that he can call up - the past is too painful, his never-ending martyrdom has disturbed his perception too much. He sat in barrack number six, "a small room with a lot of people," and followed the same daily routine over the years: wake up at three-thirty, field work on the prison grounds, bad food, sleep - always under the supervision of the dreaded guards. "Many inmates were beaten," says Jagjivan. "I was one of them." The prisoners were not given any medical treatment, only sedated. "In the evening, before bed, we got a pill." Jagjivan lived through his days with no friends, no personal effects, and because he was illiterate, he could not even write a letter outside. Years passed, memories faded and Jagjivan put armor around his soul to protect his spark of life. The anger he had initially harbored gave way to devotion to fate. Outside India was waging war against Pakistan, Indira Gandhi died in an assassination attempt, the Indian computer miracle began in Bangalore, and in Uttar Pradesh a man from Jagjivan's caste, a Yadav, won the election as prime minister. Behind the walls of the insane asylum, a spirited young man became an old man, who probably only survived his doom thanks to the stoicism and the ability to suffer with which Indians of the lower castes have mastered adverse living conditions at all times. "I don't want to hold anyone accountable, I just want to live here in the village and forget," says Jagjivan in a rough, barely understandable voice. Then, noticeably clearer: "And I never want to see this place, the clinic, again!" The Kashi Lansik Chikatsalay, the closed mental hospital in Varanasi, is located on the northern edge of the holy city, far from the temples and bathing places on the banks of the Ganges. to which millions of Indian pilgrims flock every year, flanked by numerous tourists from the west. A six-meter-high, salmon-pink wall surrounds the more than ten hectare area of the institution, which was built by the British in 1808. The Jagjivan case made headlines for the clinic and resulted in another detainee being released; he had even been stuck in the institution for 39 years. Nonetheless, Dr. B. K. Bhargava, the director, insists that everything is right here: “The courts send us patients for treatment. For some the therapy lasts only two months, for others unfortunately a little longer. ”The director is sitting in his office, behind him a picture of Mahatma Gandhi, on his right two subordinates who murmur approval as soon as he announces something important. Of course, things are in a bad way, the director admits, for example only two doctors are available for the 350 inmates, who would have to treat several dozen outpatients every day. The main buildings of the complex are also two hundred years old, the prisoner barracks one hundred and fifty. No, no one is allowed to visit the prisoners' quarters, not even he can get in there without any problems. But the clinic is in good shape - because the inmates sweep the area completely every day as part of their therapy. "A lot of visitors say: Oh, it's clean at your place, you should have a picnic here!" The director proudly explains to a murmur from the right. Then he looks serious and starts talking about the Jagjivan case. "Nobody is allowed to point a finger at us on this matter," he says gravely. They did what was possible for Jagjivan and finally released him as cured. The therapy admittedly took a long time, but the good outcome counts. The director does not say that under Indian law the institution should have sent reports to the Faizabad court at regular intervals - that Jagjivan's detention was illegal. "We just supervise the people who send us the dishes," the director calls out and throws up his hands imploringly. “If you want to find someone to blame, go to court! To court!"
In the courtyard of the Faizabad judicial area there is a large sun canopy under which the lawyers admitted to the court have their seats. Dozens of lawyers, recognizable by their white beefs and black blazers, walk around between the pillars, clients wait on wooden benches, a potato dealer pushes his cart through the fray, clerks hack into the keys of old mechanical Remington typewriters. Jagjivan's lawyer is called Ram Krishna Yadav. His office consists of a rickety table with a tattered folder on it and a bench on which Jagjivan and his brother-in-law have taken their seats. The lawyer is a thin man with protruding teeth that have turned red from chewing the betel nut. His mother died last week and he shaved his head as a sign of sadness; only a curl remained at the back of the head. "I will plead for acquittal for lack of evidence," he says. “Then I'll sue for damages. Then Jagjivan will never have to work again. ”He works out the amount of money that results from estimating the respective Indian minimum wage for 38 years of work. "About a million rupees," explains the lawyer. Not even twenty thousand euros. He borrows a dusty black robe from a colleague, then leads Jagjivan and his brother-in-law through the midday heat to the courthouse, an ugly box from the seventies that has largely rotted away in the tropical climate of India. The halls lead off a long hallway on the ground floor. Numerous people are sitting on the ground waiting for their hearing, peasants with long beards and bare legs, even a monk in a saffron-yellow robe crouches quietly in a corner. Jagjivan's case will be heard in the Fifth Chamber, chaired by Judge Sri Lalchand Tripathi. The forgotten man suddenly appeared here in July of last year after the asylum had transferred him back to Faizabad prison. Unimpressed by the defendant's long imprisonment, the court calmly began the investigation and tried to find out more about the crime of which Jagjivan was accused through lengthy witness interviews. It was only when the Supreme Court of India intervened after one of the judges there read a newspaper report about the judicial scandal that Sri Lalchand Tripathi decided that Jagjivan should be released on bail. Two fat policemen with bushy whiskers and old-fashioned shotguns guard the courtroom. Negotiations are currently underway against Pawan Pandui, a well-known politician who is said to be the head of a gangster syndicate and responsible for many murders; because of its proximity to politics and crime, the state of Uttar Pradesh is notorious across India. Pandui wears a knee-length shirt and light trousers, both snow-white and freshly ironed. Through his rimless glasses he observes the questioning of a fearful witness who is supposed to incriminate him, but cannot bring himself to testify in court. The gang boss smiles sure of victory when the two policemen come to take him back to prison. Jagjivan is now standing behind the waist-high fence that marks the dock. His lawyer quickly goes to the bank of the fifth criminal chamber, where the public prosecutor is already waiting. Judge Tripathi - gold watch, gold rings - is busy filling out forms that the eager bailiff handed him.The yellowed stacks of files on the judges' table, which is covered with a flowered oilcloth, rustle in the breeze of four fans that turn slowly on the ceiling of the hall. Through the broken window panes the view goes directly to the pee channel of the court area. After many forms, the judge finally gives a sign to a messenger. "Jagjivan Ram Yadav," comes the commanding tone over to the dock. The addressee - accustomed to step forward on call - goes to the table and stands at attention in front of the governor of the law. Only his eyelids flutter.
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"Tell me your name," says the judge. Incomprehensible sounds come from Jagjivan's throat. "I beg your pardon?" Now he croaks: "Jagjivan Ram Yadav." "Dude?" Jagjivan is silent and looks through the judge into the distance. His lawyer takes over. "The defendant is seventy, Your Honor," he says. "Did you kill your neighbor Gulabo Devi with a machete on January 29, 1968?" "I deny it," says the lawyer. "That same day you were arrested and charged with murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code." "I deny it," says the lawyer. "Fifteen witnesses testified against you at the time!" "I deny that," says the lawyer. "However, all the documents from that time can no longer be found: the police report, the autopsy report and the court files." "That is correct," says the lawyer. “During the trial it was discovered that you were mentally confused. That is why you were admitted to the Varanasi Mental Hospital on December 7, 1968. ”Jagjivan perks up at these words. He shifts from one foot to the other and leans forward a little. “You stayed there and received treatment until July 22, 2005.” Jagjivan makes a pained sound. “This court succeeded in locating and questioning five of those 15 witnesses. Everyone testified that you did not commit the crime. ”“ That is correct, ”says the lawyer with satisfaction. The judge ends the questioning and sends Jagjivan to the dock. "Your Honor, how are we going to convict this man?" Says the prosecutor. “We have no witnesses, no evidence, no files and no police reports. The doctor who carried out the autopsy at the time did not appear in court either. So I plead for acquittal. ”Then Jagjivan's attorney speaks:“ Since the court has no evidence, the process should be ended quickly with an acquittal, also in view of the long time my client has already spent behind bars. ”The judge fills silently submitted another form. Then he says, "The verdict will be pronounced on April 20th." Numerous people are waiting in front of the courtroom. A local newspaper reporter asks questions - “How are you feeling? What are you going to do in the future? ”- to which Jagjivan does not react. He stands a little lost in the midst of the crowd, his eyelids still flutter. Jagjivan looks around while the lawyer explains his process strategy to the reporter. When he sees his brother-in-law, he pulls the corner of his mouth upwards for a brief moment - this movement is too fleeting to be called a smile, and yet it is clear enough to reveal that Jagjivan is pleased that he is in spite of of the shadow that lies on his soul, has understood what has just happened here: In a week his ordeal will be over. To say goodbye, he puts his palms together in front of his chest and lowers his head slightly. "Let's go," says the brother-in-law. The two men cross the dusty court grounds and are soon out of sight. On April 20, judge Sri Lalchand Tripathi pronounced the verdict in the trial with reference number 68/15: acquittal. After 38 years, two months and 23 days, Jagjivan Ram Yadav left the court a free man. The lawsuit for compensation for all the stolen years, which his lawyer filed soon after, is still pending processing. It threatens to get lost in the mills of the Indian judicial system - as happened to Jagjivan himself before.
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