Untold miseries of a woman

Rani now leads a dignified life by standing on her own feet, working as a housemaid. But who is responsible for the trauma, which Rani experienced in prison and suffers in society now?

She is made of steel. Rani, 53, spent two and a half years in Vellore central prison for the death of her husband.

Both the Chengelpet sessions court and the Madras high court ordered life imprisonment for her on the charge that she had poisoned her husband to death.

Supreme Court dismissed the orders of the lower courts and released her saying the poison mentioned in the postmortem report and the poison ‘seized’ from Rani’s house, were different. By then she had spent two and a half years in a fearsome environment.

Her family members and relatives now avoid Rani, who leads a dignified life by standing on her own feet, working as a housemaid in Chennai. But who is responsible for the trauma, which Rani experienced in prison and suffers in society now?

Winding the clock back, it was a 15-year-old Rani who was married off to Nataraj, a farmer in Uttaramerur, in 1975 soon after she completed class eight. She gave birth to three children who are now aged 20, 18 and 16 respectively.

By the age of 22 Rani had suffered untold miseries at the hands of her drunkard husband. She came out of her home when her husband brought in his third wife, bidding adieu to married life.

“Both my parental home and my husband’s house became hell for me. As my husband kept our elder son with him, I managed to take my two younger children - a daughter and a son - with me. Then came his death and I had to leave my children on the streets while I suffered in the prison,” is how Rani narrated her painful story.

In 1989, Nataraj was found dead from poison laced with his food. Her elder son, 13-year-old boy then, told the court that his mother fed poisoned food to his father.

On the strength of a statement from a child both the sessions court and the high court ordered life imprisonment saying that the case was ‘proved’.

Two of Rani’s children were sent to an NGO home when she was put behind bars in early 2002.
Jesuraj of the prison ministry of India NGO met Rani’s daughter in a city school and heard her story.

He helped move her case to the Supreme Court where it was proved that Rani was not guilty and was released immediately in early 2005.

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