It took 20 years for Vishnu Tiwari, who spent those long, agonising years behind the bars, to prove his innocence. Jailed in a rape case, Tiwari recently got out of prison after being acquitted by the Allahabad High Court.
“I am happy, but I don’t know what to do now. My house is in ruins…My family members are dead. We are demanding cooperation from the administration,” said the resident of Lalitpur district in Uttar Pradesh. “In my case, the investigating officer filed a false report. There was a dispute about tying a cow. My lawyer also ditched me,” he added, recounting his plight.
In those 20 years, Tiwari, now 43, never got bail once. His fate was such that he was never released on parole, even as many walked out of jail as part of a plan to decongest prisons during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
When he was in jail, his parents and two brothers died. His family was ostracised. The five acres of land the family had was sold.
Eyes filled with tears, Tiwari said it was heart-breaking that he could not even attend the last rites of his family members.
In September 2000, a case was registered against him for rape and under sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and he was arrested. He was convicted by a trial court in 2003 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
In January this year, the high court declared Tiwari innocent and ordered his release. He walked out of Agra Central Jail on Wednesday evening.
Mahadev Tiwari, Tiwari’s another brother, said his family was ruined due to one decision.
“Whatever happened with my brother should not happen with anyone. The poor and innocent are falsely implicated even as the whole family suffers. He spent 20 years in jail for the crime he never committed,” the brother said.
“Our father died seven years ago. But when I went to meet Vishnu two-and-a-half years ago, I informed him then…after his death, the family’s financial condition also deteriorated,” he added.
Tiwari filed an appeal in the high court through the Agra jail superintendent. After this, the court looked into the matter and held that the charge of rape was not proved.
“We are pained to mention that even after 14 years of incarceration, the State did not think of exercising its power for commutation of sentence of life imprisonment of the present accused. His case should have been considered but has not been considered,” the court said.
The bench of Dr KJ Thakar and Justice Gautam Chaudhary also noted that based on evidence on record “we are convinced that the accused has been wrongly convicted”.