A powerful eye-witness account of life in an Indian prison shows how ending incarceration is necessary to achieve a democratic transformation of society.
The Maoist party has long been banned in India, but holds clandestine meetings and operations which are considered India's number one internal threat to the country as a whole. Former political prisoner Arun Ferreira has been called the mastermind behind its propaganda and communications wing. In May 2007, several newspapers around India bore the photo of the man who was being called the leader of the CPI(M) political party. The democratic rights activist was picked up at a railway station in western India, detained by the court and condemned to prison for an expanding list of crimes: criminal conspiracy, murder, possession of arms and rioting, among others.
However, the nightmare had only begun. In one of the most notorious prisons in India, Arun Ferreira was constantly abused and tortured. Over the next several years, each of the ten cases slapped against him fell apart as the courts could not find proof of its charges. At long last, Ferreira was acquitted of all charges. Moments away from his first breath of freedom, he was re-arrested by plainclothes police as he exited the prison gates. He never got a glimpse of his family who were waiting for him just outside. Determined to fight for his freedom and to condemn the system that sought to incarcerate him and countless others, Ferreira became a free man in 2014 with the help of courageous friends and activists. Under the current repressive climate and the rise of authoritarian rule in India, Ferreira was re-arrested in 2018 on charges of sedition. He remains under house arrest.
In stark and riveting detail, the former political prisoner recounts the horrors he faced in prison--torture, beatings, corruption, codes of behavior and solidarity among inmates, strikes mounted by prisoners to protest brutality, the general air of hopelessness, and the small consolations that kept hope alive--and describes how others are facing similar situations around India and throughout the world.