VK Sasikala and the Democracy in Corruption.
According to this report by Indian Express, DIG (Prisons) D Roopa, in a report to Director General (Prisons) HN Satyanarayana Rao, has said that there are speculations that Sasikala paid bribe to prison officials to get special facilities for herself with rumours also of the DG being a beneficiary himself.
This is not news for us. We are only happy that there came up someone who could speak it out in open and present a report. Last we checked, nothing moves through the systems that have long ceased to be efficient and exist to build fortunes for the authorities in place. Now that a public figure is in question, we hope this gets investigated in detail because we know that the muck is deep rooted. When we stood at the gates of the Bangalore Central Prison in Parappana Agrahara (Bengaluru), we saw that special privileges are not only reserved for Madame VK Sasikala but for anyone who can afford them. There is a sense of democracy in the corruption at Bangalore Central Prison.
Few months back this year, we visited the prison to get a few permissions to undertake some creative activities for the inmates. You may read the entire ordeal here. If you don’t want to read an entire new article branching off from here, here is the last part of it –
“Scene 4: Minimum Service Rate is Rs. 100
This was the most enlightening experience of all. There were two entrances to the prison. One was the regular entry and they had a separate waiting area. There was nothing special about the crowd in the waiting area there. The men looked like they were daily laborers, the women wore a burdened look and the children seemed underfed. But the special entrance and its waiting area was filled with white-clad men with their own group of sturdily-built men, women adorned with rich clothing and accessories, children in fancy fashion wears and weird hairdo. Some of these sturdily-built man also sported some heavy jewellery and bright-colored clothes giving the women there, a complex. Almost all of them had a lot of bags filled with foods, toiletries, towels and more. One group even had a big carton of Alphonso mangoes. All these luxuries certainly seemed to go to one or other high profile convict in there.
Here too we had a prison guard. This one was young and I figured he was smart too, because he could handle the crowd and its questions better than a senior officer who was gate-keeping. I asked him if so many bags were being sent for just one person. He replied politely, ”I don’t know, Mam”. Now, politeness is a rare virtue in a police officer at his grade. But the gate-keepers who were letting the visitors in, were the most interesting of the lot. I had the chance to observe two different gate-keepers, one in the forenoon and another in the afternoon. I couldn’t tell which one of them was worse. Every single visitor who walked in to the prison through the special entry door paid them a minimum of ₹100. More number of bags meant more notes and extra guests for a single inmate meant notes of different colors and higher denominations. This continued seamlessly throughout the day as if it was no big deal. The transaction looked as if it was a mandatory step of a thoroughly defined process. In fact, you can walk in there any day and you will get to witness it yourself. I am sure there would be no need for a sting operation as such. And then there was this officer who came out in casuals and one of the groups handed him a beautiful pink note thanking him for taking care of their affairs. Something told me, the smart guy outside is just another silent witness to this whole thing just like us and he wouldn’t be getting a share out of these exchanges. I could be wrong too.
Nevertheless, I am grateful to him because at one point the senior gate-keeper had decided to make our documents go missing apparently because we didn’t look like the ones ready to spare a few notes. We were determined not to leave without our documents and the smart young guy seemed to understand the frustration. He promised to search for it once his duty ends. He kept his promise and returned the documents which had earlier vanished on its own from the jail. Eventually as I walked out of the gates of the Central Prison that evening, I was hungry, angry and a little less patriotic.”
This post was tweeted to Bengaluru Police and other stakeholders to be greeted only with deafening silence from all quarters.
We didn’t know where to go next. So, I registered a grievance on PMO site. I give you a snapshot here –
We had hopes. Hopes were dashed with a ‘No Action Required’ closure remark from the PMO. The grievance was lodged on 12th April and was promptly closed on 17th April, 2017. We do not know if there was anything done.
A few people who I spoke to about this told me it is the most commonplace form of corruption and everyone knows it exists but nobody disturbs the status quo. However, now that an officer has come out with this report, I hope that her voice is not muzzled and this gets investigated fair and square. Going by an NDTV report on 14th July, attempts are already being made to scare and silence the whistleblower.
When an ever-chirpy and self-congratulatory twitter account has only silence to offer you on a complaint and a PMO initiative closes your grievance report with a ‘No Action Required’, we understand how seriously our systems look at corruption in our country. To look inwards isn’t an easy art to master. When the system itself breeds corruption, why expect anything less from the common civilians?
Next time somebody speaks to me about ‘Prisoners’ Reforms’, I am going to give them a hug and whisper in their ears – ‘Brother, let’s first speak about Police Reforms.’ Beyond all the bouquets and waahs-waahs, there comes a time in a writer’s life when his writings start bothering the authorities, the leaders, and the musclemen. I think, as Bookstalkists, we are standing at a juncture where we will become that insolent speck of dust in the eyes of the authorities that knows only to enter the eye but has no idea of how to come out of it. Good for us, we don’t even intend to.
We don’t want to do sting after sting. Stings don’t sting us anymore. This nation has seen innumerable stings and nothing has changed. As I see more of the establishment, I get ever more convinced that we are being ruled. We are being ruled by the police, politicians, and their musclemen. We might not be under British rule any more, but as has been the wont of our society, we can’t live free. We need to be ruled to live. Hence a different class has replaced the British. We have thrown ourselves like pieces of meat into the jaws of jackals and we are being devoured inside out. We are rotting pieces of meat, but we still have takers. We will have takers till the last drop of blood remains in our veins, till the last hum of life remains in our body.