Archive for April, 2009

Under trials : stuck in prison, despite getting bail

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A matter of great shame. Judicial processes are teriibly slow and convoluted. It benefits the criminal wonderfully.  Innocents especially the poor are always at the receiving end.

Over 40 undertrials stuck in prison, despite getting bail

They Can’t Walk Free As They Have None

To Stand Surety For Them

A Subramani | TNN

Chennai: That any arrested person is entitled to walk out of jail once he obtains bail and furnishes surety to the satisfaction of a magistrate, is common knowledge.

But do you know that more than 40 persons are languishing at Puzhal Central Prison-II though they have got bail but are unable to find persons to stand surety for them? Also, do you know that one such less-privileged prisoner — P Muthu of Kumananchavadi near Poonamallee — died of cancer after remaining in prison for nearly three years?

While Muthu and at least 43 others remained behind bars because they had no one to stand surety for them, 91 others are in Puzhal-II for more than a year as the police concerned had not filed a chargesheet as yet.

“Most of them are petty offenders, and are ready to plead guilty. Even if convicted, they would be sentenced only for a few months. But, unless the police file a chargesheet, the magistrate cannot dispose of the matter,” said a prison official. “Delaying chargesheet is a way of delaying their release,” he added.

Puzhal Prison-II has 116 inmates who are in jail for more than 90 days but less than one year. There are 43 others who are staying in jail between 60 days and 90 days. “In regular crimes, if the police fail to lay chargesheet in 60 days, the accused could avail the statutory bail benefit and walk out of jail,” said special public prosecutor for human rights cases, V Kannadasan.

The Puzhal-II is home to about a dozen inmates facing charges under Section 75 (public nuisance) of City Police Act and Section 7(1)(a) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. They are inside for periods ranging 3-4 months, in spite of the fact that if convicted they would be sentenced to serve only a couple of weeks in jail.

“Personal liberty is the most sacred of all fundamental rights,” said Kannadasan, adding, “prison authorities cannot be blamed for this sorry state of affairs.” He said that the data itself was being compiled only as per the directions of the director-general of police (prisons) R Natraj, to be sent to the legal services authority for redressal.

Even in the case of Muthu, the prison authorities took note of his poor health condition and forwarded his request to be sent out on own bond to the jurisdictional court. As there was no response either from the court or from legal aid authorities, he was admitted in the Government Royapettah Hospital in February 2009. Till his death on April 9, he did not get any help, lament prison staff.

He was arrested by the Poonamallee police on charges of preparing to commit robbery (crime no. 735/2006) in 2006, ahead of the assembly elections. “His three-year incarceration was meaningful in one sense. It exposed the insensitivity of the judiciary and ineffectiveness of the legal aid system,” said Kannadasan.

 

Easter : Christa Purana still moves faithful to tears

Christa Purana still moves faithful to tears

Ashley D’Mello | TNN


Mumbai: Avelino Rejoice Dhakul, 81, never fails to bring tears to people’s eyes when he renders the Passion of Christ from the Christa Purana, describing scenes from the crucifixion at the Good Friday service at St Francis Xavier Church, Vile Parle.

Dhakul, who has been singing solo for the last 25 years, is keen that others should step up to carry on the torch, but he says sadly, “I have no luck so far.’’

Singing of verses from the Christa Purana, which is written in the old Marathi script, is a looked-forward to ritual during the season of Lent in some of the old churches of suburban Mumbai, although the last three decades have seen a slow fading of this tradition.
Lent, commemorates 40 days of fasting and abstinence, before the death of Christ on Good Friday. The singing involves a mournful incantation of the verses, which detail the life and death of Christ. This is done during the Passu ceremony when the body of Christ is lowered from the cross for veneration by the congregation.

The Christa Purana is part of the religious and cultural tradition of Catholics in Mumbai, Goa and Mangalore. Written by an English Jesuit missionary, Thomas Stevens, who studied at Oxford and settled in Goa in the 17th century, the writing follows the Hindu puranic style and is regarded as an epic.

Dhakul states that most youngsters do not want to learn to sing the verses in the Purana. “The singing on Good Friday can sometimes last almost two hours, and most youngsters stay away from such a task,’’ he says. “The interest in singing in Marathi is also not strong any more. Youngsters prefer to sing hymns in English.’’

But for the D’Mello brothers at St Andrew Church in Bandra, Conrad (39) and Anselm (36), who sing, the experience is different. “The tradition of singing the Purana is still strong in our family but it has slowed down in Bandra over the last decades,’’ says Conrad. “We have the puran tradition since my great-grandfather’s time and probably even before that, we sang the puran verses regularly at home when we were growing up in Bandra.’’

Even among the Catholics of Vasai who speak and write in Marathi, the tradition is fading. Bishop Thomas Dabre of Vasai explains why.

“The Purana is no longer popular in Vasai because it is written in old Marathi, which is sometimes difficult to understand. The churches now use modern hymns,’’ he says.
Efforts to revive the epic are under way. Fr Simon Borges of Kurla has helped produce a CD of songs from the puran. The issue has also been taken up by Major Leon Fonseca, executive committee member of the East Indian Association. “We are discussing ways and means of preserving this centuries-old tradition. It should not be allowed to die,’’ he says.

Pune bishop
The bishop of Vasai, Thomas Dabre, has been appointed bishop of Pune by the Vatican. A Marathi scholar and a well-known Catholic theologian, Bishop Dabre is an authority on Indian mysticism and Sant Tukaram. One of his main thrusts has been interreligious dialogue and communal harmony. TNN

 

Mantralaya mutt : Chief Pontiff passes away

Head of Mantralaya mutt passes away

TIMES NEWS NETWORK 

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Bangalore: The chief pontiff of Sri Raghavendra Swamy Mutt in Mantralaya, Sri Sushmeendra Teertha Swami, passed away on Saturday following a cardiac arrest. Swami Sushmeendra was 83 and breathed his last at 2.20 pm at a private hospital here.

He’d been admitted to the hospital a fortnight ago after he complained of age-related ailments, according to Rajagopalachari of Raghavendra Mutt. His body was taken to Mantralaya where it will be kept for public viewing between 5 am and 8 pm on Sunday before being taken to brindavana (temporary burial).

Born in Nanjangud near Mysore, Swami Sushmeendra at 59 joined the Mantralaya mutt in the temple town on the banks of the Tungabhadra in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh in 1985.

“He was instrumental in taking Mantralaya closer to people,” recalled Rajagopalachari.

 

The Brave Ones:Ummul Khair

Fighting palsy, she learns

the alphabet at 21, graduates at 30

Karthika Gopalakrishnan | TNN 

Chennai: Ummul Khair has made the journey of a lifetime in the last 10 years. Her body is affected by cerebral palsy but it is her mind that the sociology graduate has always relied upon to take her forward — from learning the alphabet at the age of 21 to completing her college education almost a decade later.

“I was at Vidya Sagar when I was five years old but I could not go to school once my family moved to Bangalore. I was at home for nearly 12 years. I watched my cousins study and wanted to be independent as well. I did not want charity,” she said after receiving her degree certificate at the 14th graduation ceremony of MOP Vaishnav College for Women on Sunday.

During a family visit to Chennai, Ummul got in touch with Vidya Sagar founder Poonam Natarajan and that helped her on her way.


“We had looked after her all along and were scared about letting her stay alone.

But Poonam akka convinced us that Ummul could study. We had only thought about making her walk, never about making her study. Today, we are extremely proud of her. When we cry, she gives us courage saying she will study and do well,” said her mother, 65-year-old Umaira Batul, with tears in her eyes.

The family currently resides in Bangalore’s Shivaji Nagar. Umaira’s husband Mohammad Azham Khan (85) used to sew plastic baby sheets with pillows, diapers and clothes for infants. Ummul’s younger brother works at a hotel.

Since she had never enrolled in school, Ummul learnt the alphabet when she was 21 and took three years to clear the class X board exams conducted by the National Institute of Open Schooling. After completing her class XII on a sponsorship at Lady Andal Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Chetpet, she enrolled for a degree in Sociology at MOP Vaishnav College for Women.

“I am lucky to have got the opportunity to study. In all aspects, it has helped me learn. The teachers and students were always supportive. ‘Sari Day’ was one of the most memorable occasions as my classmates even helped me wear a sari. It was a lot of fun,” Ummul recounted.

Along with her internships in college — counselling alcoholics and working with a human rights organisation — her world view was further moulded after a trip to the US in June last year as part of the Global Leadership Programme.

“I participated in everything, even adventure sports where we were suspended 40 feet in the air. There is a lot of accessibility for disabled individuals in the US. I was able to go anywhere I wanted,” she said.

After returning to the city, Ummul went on to finish her course and is now pursuing a course in law at the Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law College. Hoping to be able to fight for the rights of the disabled in a few years, Ummul was not at all taken aback by the standing ovation she received during Sunday’s graduation ceremony.

The dignitaries on stage rose from their chairs and the students cheered. Unfazed by it all, Ummul exuded confidence. She knew she deserved it.

THE HONOURS: Ummul Khair receives her degree certificate from BS Raghavan, former chief secretary of Tripura. (Below) Students of MOP Vaishnav College For Women take the oath during the convocation at Kamrajar Arangam on Sunday