Hyderabad Central Jail
FIR in Hyderabad Central Jail
A couple of hours later, police arrived at the scene. They arrested us and took us to the police station. We were about twenty of us and we were huddled into a dark and smelly lock-up room. This room was not sufficient enough for us to even sit comfortably on its floor. A little before sunset, the police completed formalities of registration of FIR (first investigation report) against us and we were taken to Hyderabad central jail.
Welcome in Jail
We were greeted there amid slogans by our friends who were already there and were arrested on same grounds ahead of us. The ward was called as quarantine where new prisoners were lodged for a few days until they were shifted to a permanent place. On the next day a new batch of students also joined us and this place being insufficient to accommodate all of us, we were relocated to another ward in an area called as “acho chakkar” (white circle).
This jail was divided in two parts known as acho chakkar, a place where we were taken to, and “karo chakkar” (black circle). Each Chakar was further subdivided like a wedge of pie. One such wedge was allowed to us as the number of students who were arrested, climbed to staggering figure of over 500. The behavior of jail management was unbecoming and in order to show our protest, we even sat on a hunger strike for a day.
To circumvent our protests some top leaders of our group were shifted to Nara jail. This place was horrible to say the least, and the prisoners were living in subhuman conditions not even fit for animals. The ward in which we were to live for unknown period, wore a look of haunted and unkempt place. We were about fifty students, each one of us having a floor space just sufficient to spread our rotten and torn out bed sheets.
I couldn’t answer the call of nature for the first four days but eventually had to surrender. The toilets were small cubicles and each one of these were just about the size of an Indian water closet (W.C), and walls only four feet high without roof and without front door. One could very conveniently peep into the adjoining cubicles to watch the people in action. These cubicles were about ten to fifteen in a row in an open place. Initially we would go there with our faces covered to hide our identity, as we were to uncover our vital body parts. Time is the best teacher and teaches lessons which cannot be taught by any teacher. Whether we liked it or not but we got so used to it and so very quickly that we started thinking that there was nothing wrong about it.
Group Discussions in Jail’s Toilet
With the experience gained, we could identify the person sitting in our neighborhood through his style of bombardment (a kind of a bombardment which is only the hallmark of a toilet), as to who the guy was. Interestingly, we would even indulge in group discussion as if we were in a drawing room and not in a toilet. Our ward used to be locked up from outside by sunset which would open at sunrise the next morning. There was a small open place at one corner of the ward to which they called as lavatory, a facility for anyone having stomach problem, to make full use of it during night time. Its location was perfect for full view of action-in-progress, available free of cost to all fifty occupants of ward. And such occurrence was a routine matter at an average of three to four times a week.
Condition of Hyderabad Central Jail
I have tried to describe our living conditions in Hyderabad central jail. The jail superintendent by the name of Sarhandi was a shrewd man notoriously famous for corruption and mismanagement in jail. Sometimes when we would meet other prisoners, they had complaints that the food supplied to them was of substandard quality. Whereas jail authorities used to receive reasonable quantity of food ration for prisoners, this was never supplied to them and was taken away by jail in-charge to his residence. We also noticed this and during our stay of about two months, our menu for most of the time was limited to pulses (daal) cooked raw.
Food in Central Jail
This was the kind of food that we used to get and we had to involuntarily take it for our living, as we had no other choice. When I look back and see as to what was given to us to eat, I can bet that if given to me now, I will vomit it out without taking a grain of it inside my belly. No meat was ever served to us except on Sundays for which we would wait for entire week to eat beef, or at least we would call it beef. This was the cheapest meat during those days, as poultry farming and poultry chicken had not made inroads in our lives as yet.
Song of Prisoners
The prisoners used to sing a song in Sindhi which was very popular in the jail and we would often ask our friend Morai to sing that song to us. The lyrics of the song were as under;
“Gogroo, basar thaa ghuraain,
Kachi daal qaidyun khay khaaraain,
Iho ration paan tha khaain.”
“(jail authorities) are supplied with turnips and onions (for prisoners).
But they feed raw and poorly cooked daal (pulses) to the prisoners.
And they eat away the ration themselves”.
Queue for Food
As if the substandard quality of food was not a sufficient dose for prisoners, the quantity was also not adequate and we had to rush and form a queue to get it. This daily exercise was too heavy for me as I was a bit lethargic to get into the queue. My friend Morai had to do this not only for him but also for me. At times he would complain and ask me:
“Ada; bear in mind that we are in jail and not at home. Here you have to be quick and agile”.
He would often use a typical Sindhi word for being active and agile and would ask me to be (phoort), meaning thereby to be quick. And I would shrug away his valuable advice. Poor Morai, he still remembers it and whenever we meet, he always reminds me of his complaint during those days and that I had never paid any heed to his advice, and he also recalls those painful days of our life.