Indian Woman Unable To raise $92 bail, Spent 19 Years In Prison

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FROM India comes a story of injustice, desperation and a son’s deep devotion to his mother.

A woman has languished in jail for 19 years because no one could afford to pay her bail. Her bail was 5,000 rupees. That’s about $192.

No-one could raise the money, so the woman had to stay in jail for two decades. There is also a report this morning that the Indian justice system is so muddled and inefficient, she wasn’t even aware she had been granted bail.

The woman’s name is Vijay Kumari. In 1990 she was imprisoned on a murder charge. In 1994, a court granted her bail, but she couldn’t afford it. She gave birth to a son in jail. The son was taken away to a children’s home just before he turned five. And still the woman languished behind bars.

The child, whose name was Kanhaiya, grew up. Kanhaiya worked night and day in a garment factory on a miniscule wage until finally he earned enough money to cover his mother’s bail.

Then just this week, Kanhaiya paid the bail and his mother was released.
The fact that nobody from the woman’s extended family could pay the bail 19 years ago has triggered much debate in this nation of 1.24 billion people and more than 1,300 prisons.

The High Court in the northern Indian province of Uttar Pradesh, where the woman languished in jail, has decided to take action over thousands of other people in local jails, many of whom have been incarcerated as long as Ms Kumari.

Authorities have directed that prisoners who have been granted bail should be handed over to the court at once.

That means many more men and women like Ms Kumari could be be reunited with their families – especially those without a son as devoted as Kanhaiya.

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