Jugal Malāh from Mahottari District, Matihani – 1, had done nothing wrong. He had been making a living as a day labourer when misfortune struck his life like a thunderbolt. He was arrested and kept in jail simply because his name matched that of an accused from a robbery case that took place 15 years before he was born.
When evidence was collected, Jugal was found innocent. Jugal, a blameless prisoner, had to take out a loan of seven thousand two hundred rupees at an interest rate of three percent per month in order to get out of jail. Now he is worried about how he will repay that loan. He said, ‘I was jailed for no reason. In order to organize everything to get out of jail, I had to take out a loan of seven thousand two hundred rupees. How am I going to repay that loan?’ Not only Jugal but his entire family is worried over the loan.
‘I got out of jail, but the burden of debt has driven me to despair,’ a desperate Jugal said. ‘Who can predict what can happen in a man’s life?’ Jugal, who was born in BS 2015 (CE 1958), was arrested on June 20 as an accused in a decision given by Dhanusha District Court on a robbery that took place in BS 2001(CE 1944), and kept in the Jaleshwor Jail.
56 years old Jugal, who lives in a simple hut by the no man’s land on the Indian border, has a wife and three sons. Jugal had been making a living by bringing home three kilos of rice each day in exchange of daily labor.
His son Raj Kumar says, ‘Father is out of jail – but that is not the point. But he was arrested on trumped-up charges and taken to jail and tortured and made to suffer. Who is going to compensate us for that? Who is going to pay the price for this?’
He said that the police came to the fields and said, ‘You are Jugal Kevat and there is a robbery case against you,’ and took him. Jugal said that although he repeatedly pleaded that his name was Jugal Malāh and that he hadn’t been involved in any crime, he was forcibly taken to the Mahottari Police Station and presented before SP Ram Prasad Shrestha. ‘I pleaded to them that I was not that person, but they threatened me and refused to listen to anything I said. They took me straight to jail.’
When the innocent Jugal was jailed, the news shook the village. His family, neighbours and villagers gathered and went to the Jaleshwor Jail to get him released. They tried to explain the matter to the police and pleaded before them, but the police and administration didn’t listen to them at all.
Thereafter, the neighbors and villagers formed a group and went to the Dhanusha District Court to find the paperwork pertaining to the case. The bureaucrats there said that all the files and papers had been sent to Jaleshwor, and sent the villagers back empty-handed. ‘Then we returned to Jaleshwor. They told us to go here and go there and added a lot more suffering,’ Raj Kumar said.
Since a search through all the paperwork at the District Court at Jaleshwor showed only the name Jugal Kevat, whose father’s name was also different from that of Jugal Malāh’s father’s name, Raj Kumar filed a petition for his father’s release. The citizenship certificate numbered 61557214 issued by Mahottari District Administration on Kartik 30, 2041 BS (CE 1984) shows that Sukhāri Malāh’s son Jugal Malāh was born in BS 2015 (CE 1958). After it was established that Jugal was innocent of the crime for he was accused, he was released after six days in jail.
This article first appeared in the Annapurna Post on Saturday, July 12, 2014. It was translated by La.Lit Assistant Editor, Prawin Adhikari.