Updated: July 8, 2015 4:34:28 am
“Love recognises no barriers,” sings Maya Angelou in a widely shared verse on the internet. “It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” And if the wall lacks cement, the love of the great outdoors just punches its way through. Recently, two young inmates read the writing on the wall of Tihar Jail, which allegedly prophesied that successful escapees would be rewarded with Rs 20 lakh and an apartment by the government. That sort of thing flourishes in hacker culture, but should jailbirds see a future in it? Only a few stars like Houdini make it big in the escape artist business.
After the exploit and the suspension of the jail superintendent, the spotlight seeks not the escapees but some unsung PWD official who built the breached wall, who may be penalised. This is a lofty but dangerous precedent. India is celebrated as the land of relentless making, unmaking and remaking. Everything falls apart, from tarmac and buildings to whole projects and schemes, providing lucrative occasions for the issue of fresh tenders, creating employment, growth, liquidity and all the other goodies that economies strive for. Shall we endanger this fragile ecosystem of reliable renewal, only because two convicts punched a hole in a Tihar wall?
India’s biggest detention facility has had a tumultuous summer. In April, an inmate was killed by five others armed with improvised weapons. In May, 15 prison officials were suspended after the suspicious death of two inmates. The ongoing population explosion behind bars may have contributed to this mayhem — the CAG found this year that Tihar is a flourishing settlement with a population exceeding 14,000, over double its rated capacity. That’s too close for comfort, and no wonder inmates are seeking out walls low on cement, which are easily penetrated.
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