Posted by: Prem Piyush | January 26, 2005

26 January in Captivity


You must have seen the flag hoisting at the offices, homes and of course Lal Kila. Today I would like to tell about the Flag hoisting inside a Jail, the feared and neglected building of our society.
In Jails there is a flag at the entry which is hoisted daily as done in our Parliament House and Rastrapati Bhawan. On 26th January and 15th August, the Jail superintendent hoists the flag there. The prisoners can’t see the proceedings but once hoisted they can see the height where the National Flag flares. Inside the Jails, there are more flags to be hoisted there. Indian Jails were mostly built in British period, with red bricks thick high walls. On this day the inside roads of the jail are coloured with various coloured lime. The prisoners seem to give red carpet welcome to the Republic Day. The cleanliness is exemplary like our corporate offices to one’s surprise. The flower gardens bloom and the flag is ready to be hoisted inside the garden or the open place for the main prison place. Every morning, the prisoners are out of their barracks until they had their meals. So at the flag hoisting time they gather at one place. Unlike movies not all jails have white dresses and caps. They wear normal dress as we do.The prisoners don’t form queues there, they surround the flag. Some of the prisoner’s are well versed with the national anthem, but most are not. Why should they be expected to be so? After all they are the part of our society which forms the majority of such people who don’t know the full national anthem. Any festival inside the jail is a matter of big rejoices. Once the flowers from the flag fall on the earth they clap big hands. Might their faces become more hopeful for a better and civilized world. Some of the prisoners are smart enough to lead the social activities there. Be sure that the national anthem will never be synchronized among them. If one side of the crowd finish the anthem and the other side will still be singing “Gahe tab jaya gatha…..” . But some prisoners, who know the partial anthem, will be humming in between. Wait for sweets, distributing sweets is not an easy thing there. The so called miscreants are always challenge taking people. It’s our society and the circumstances who could not utilize their potentials or they them selves couldn’t feel the capacities lying within them. So devoid of joys, relatives, own soil’s smell they will surely enjoy the festival sweets distribution and may some conflict arise then. So the sweet distribution is done afterwards all the hoisting are over in a disciplined manner.

Once finished the celebrations at main place inside the jail the superintendent goes to the inner women cell which is a more secured jail inside the jail. Before entering the women’s cell the guard shouts “Hosiyaar” 3 times and the officials enter there. The prisoners who are fathers can’t keep their kids with them but mothers can keep the kids with them. This is one of the situations when I tell that the gender equality will never exist in the world.
The female prisoners are more nicely dressed using their limited resources compared to their male counterparts. And they too stand near the flag. And most of them despite sweet voice don’t know the anthem. But on this day inside the forbidden four walls, with officials and a tricolor cloth flying, lime decorations in the floor, and colorful flower petals spread over the floor the women’s cell may feel the festivity. Might the festivity be the mirage of home festival front of their eyes.
And as soon as the hoisting is over, the mirage again gets captivated behind the closed the doors. Almost every prisoner in the red brick wall must be dreaming in their hopeful eyes that some day they will be able to hoist the national flag with us in the open air. The parent prisoners might be hoping that they will be able to buy a small tricolor for Rs. 1/-, for their kids, who may be running today around the schools and offices for few Bundiyas or Jelebis and celebrating 26 January today.

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