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Thursday, October 21, 2021

It feels great to be free but…

Mahadev Pandit,the 47-year-old man who was rescued by the police on Saturday after nearly 16 years of “chained” captivity in his own house by his family...

Written by Kartyk Venkatraman | Domjur (howrah) |
January 26, 2009 3:04:44 am

…After 16 years of chained captivity of his family,the 47-year-old victim says he doesn’t mind going back to it if they give him three meals a day

Mahadev Pandit,the 47-year-old man who was rescued by the police on Saturday after nearly 16 years of “chained” captivity in his own house by his family,has said he does not mind returning to his prison-at-home after his discharge from hospital,where he is now being treated for malnutrition.

Wearing a shirt and a lungi and freshly shaved and bathed,Pandit seemed coherent and alert in the company of his wife on Sunday,when The Indian Express met him at the Domjur Rural Hospital. “It feels great to be out of my room after all these years. However,I won’t mind if I have to go back to staying in chains again as I was getting three square meals a day. I have no income,and it wasn’t so troublesome to be locked up,” Pandit said.

His wife Rama said she met him in the hospital for the first time since he was locked up by his father and uncles for his “anti-social” activities and “abusive” behaviour.

“We got married in 1983. He was a gold artisan by profession. We have stayed in Hyderabad on two occasions as he had found work there. He was a heavy drinker and would beat me up nearly every day. On one occasion,I lodged a complaint with the Domjur police. He was arrested and imprisoned for three months. I left his house and went back to living with my parents. I have good relations with my in-laws,but not with him,” Rama said,adding she had two children with him — Rakesh (17) and Sangeeta (23) who is now married.

She said she did not oppose the Pandit family’s decision to lock him up as it seemed the best way out. “He was out of control. He used to fight with everyone in our village. He was even arrested for theft by the Delhi Police while he was working there. He escaped from Delhi and came back home,but was re-arrested by local police,” she said.

Her version,however,is different from that of Debashis Pandit,the complainant who claimed to be a relative of the victim. Debashi had alleged that a property dispute in the family had led to Mahadev’s confinement.

Mahadev’s father Narenchandra has been arrested for illegal confinement and was produced in the court on Sunday.

Jaya,Mahadev’s mother,too echoed his wife’s version. “He was addicted to alcohol and drugs,and would threaten his father with a knife asking him to hand over the property to him. Finally,his father and uncles decided to lock him up. Of my four children,he is the only son. Who would want to lock up their only son? But we had no option. I feed him thrice a day. I’m worried now that he might return home to stay as a free man,” said Jaya.

In Pandit’s village of Raghabpur,a small cell-like room with unpainted brick walls,where he spent his time in captivity,sits prominently atop his two-storey residence. Inside,the cell presents a stomach-churning picture,littered with excrement and dirty rags.

Domjur police station-in-charge Inspector Shekhar Roy said the arrests were made based on the complaint by Debashis.

“We don’t think the complainant and the accused are related. His father had no reservations to admitting they had confined Mahadev. Further investigation needs to be done. Both accused were produced in the Howrah court today,” Roy said.

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