On 21 October, the Allahabad High Court granted bail to journalist Prashant Kanojia, noting that his application could not be rejected on “any tangible ground”. Kanojia had already spent two months in jail over allegedly sharing a morphed post about the Ram Temple on Twitter. It was not the first time he was jailed over a tweet: last year, Kanojia was arrested for posting a video about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and was held until the Supreme Court ordered his release.
In both cases, the petitioner who took on the government andknocked on the doors of courts for Kanojia’s release, while also working tocreate public awareness, was his wife Jagisha Arora. Her strength and commitment have earned her some admiration, but the emotional costs have been catastrophic.
In this personal account, she lifts the curtain on the turmoil and pain endured by the loved ones of people who are targeted by the State. Such a battle can also lead to a “loss of identity” and deepen old wounds, says Jagisha, who fought against her dominant-caste family to marry Kanojia, a Dalit, and was already struggling to find her place in conservative Uttar Pradesh.
It is not easy to be the wife of a political prisoner. We live daily with a strange fear. Prashant’s arrest two months ago has had the deepest impact on my mental state. I have not been able to sleep properly. When I’d sit down for a meal, I’d wonder whether he had eaten or not. I’m suffering from depression and am on medication for anxiety; when the court gave us a date after four weeks, I physically couldn’t leave my bed for two straight days. Prashant may have been the one in jail, but I and others like me have, in effect, become prisoners too.
When the State attacks you, you become a puppet to forces you cannot control. I was recognised as Prashant’s wife but my own identity was lost somewhere. My personal demons reared their heads too. This ordeal brought back the traumas from my childhood...