Sunday, May 15, 2005

Resort without sunshine and breeze

I am not sure about the specific difference between Police and Judicial custody, but I guess the very name suggests, one must be near to the court while other to police station. When I learnt about my friend checking out after his 6 night 7 day sojourn, images of “ dingy 8x10 cell”- crammed up with people - peering through vertical rotten iron bars, dilapidated water earthen pot lying in one corner with dim big yellow bulb hanging at the center with cobwebs all over the ceilings” - conjured my imagination.

I was keen to learn from my friend about dubai version of the above images but what I learnt was something contrary. Dubai Judicial custody is at the basement of Public Prosecution Building. A centrally air-conditioned place with granite tiles and high ceiling is divided in two different types. Type two has direct access to court so those inmates who need to be produced in the court are moved from Type one to another. Type one: you can call an ordinary custody, houses five rooms of 12x12” that have two bunker beds on each side of the wall, making it - 8 occupants per room. Beds are equipped with foam mattress and blanket. A central hall is used when these rooms are overflowing with people. The place has four toilets and three shower rooms with 24 hours hot and cold water. The second type is more like a cinema theater with two levels connected by staircase; both levels have 14 rooms occupying 12 persons. Rooms in type two are much bigger than first type with public address system and satellite TV. Telephone booth is housed nearby to be used at specific times.

Typical day in lock up begins at 5.00 am – with breakfast of bread, Boiled Egg, Jam and Tea with Milk. Various newspapers like Malayalam Manorama, Gulf News, Khaleej Times arrive by 7.00 am. Lunch is served at 2.00pm with rice sprinkled with spicy Arabic curry, one piece of fried chicken/meat/fish, raw vegetable salad, Dinner is served at 6.00 pm with noodles with boiled beans or Arabic Bread and Black Tea. I wonder, how they missed out on dessert !! For those who support tobacco industry, a call is given every three hours to gather in special smoking room for 5 minutes for one cigarette. Only pre-condition is that they submit the proof of their smoking by surrendering the butt. Laundry man comes every alternate day to do free laundry but without the luxury of ironing. There is an adjacent small supermarket that stocks most groceries, telephone card, T-shirts and Towels. All inmates get an access to this store alternate day for a specific time. Those who are in need of medicines get them free too.

Does it not sound like a resort without sunshine and breeze?

While I write this, news article mentions about overflowing jails in UAE. I wonder is this something to do with the lifestyle it offers.


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