On March 31, the Hyderabad High Court acquitted P Satyam Babu, the man who spent eight years in jail, for a crime he did not commit. In September 2010, Babu was awarded a life sentence by a special sessions court in Vijayawada after he was convicted of raping and murdering a young girl in the city in December 2007.
According to Times of India, the judge could have even given Babu a death sentence. "I have not committed the crime. If you believe I am guilty, I am willing to go to the gallows. You can give me the death sentence," Babu had said back then.
But the biggest surprise was, besides Babu's mother and sister rallying for him that he was being framed for the murder, even the victim's mother told the court that she did not think Babu was the culprit. In fact, the victim's family alleged that while a politician's family was involved in the murder, it was Babu who was arrested. He was arrested in connection to the theft of a cell phone on August 17, 2008, and the police told that he had confessed to Ayesha's murder.
More than eight years have passed since and today, Babu suffers from GB Syndrome which has affected his nervous system and paralysed both his legs. But will this acquittal or the court's direction to punish the investigating officers who framed Babu help him to get back his life or even end the financial distress his poor family has been facing. Will he overcome the social stigma even if law pardons him?
Here are three other Indians who were been wrongfully convicted:
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Mohammad Hussain Fazli, 12 years
After spending 12 years inside India's most fortified prison in New Delhi, Fazli was finally released on February 16, 2017. He was wrongfully convicted after the bomb blasts in New Delhi in 2005 that killed 67. Subjected to years of physical and mental torture for allegations which the prosecutors failed to prove, Fazli is no longer what he used to be. Such is the ordeal that Fazli now refuses to step out of his home as he fears that he will lose his way and won't be able to recognise the streets and roads of his home town.
"I was arrested for being a Muslim and a Kashmiri. A Kashmir Muslim is guilty until proven innocent," Fazli told ucanews.com.
Bhupender Singh, 14 Years
Forty-two-year-old Bhupender Singh was acquitted in 2013 after he was convicted of the murder of the wife of his former employee. According to The Indian Express, a partial fingerprint of him found near the dead body and the testimony of his former employer that Singh had left his employment in anger after he turned down Singh's request for Rs 50,000 had highlighted him as the prime offender in 1999.
Despite his arguments that his several visits to his boss's home was the reason that his fingerprints were found in the house, he remained in jail for 14 years. It was only in 2013, that lack evidence to connect him to the crime led to his release.
Syed Wasif Haider, 8 years
Arrested on July 31, 2001, from Kanpur, Haider was accused of waging war against the nation, rioting, murdering and being a member of Hizbul Mujahideen. But after being acquitted after eight years, life was never the same for him. Once an employee with US multinational corporation, Haider is jobless today. According to Al Jazzera, Haider, who is in his mid-40s, said: "I might be a free man now but I feel I am in a bigger jail now. Even after seven years of acquittal, I am as isolated as I was in jail. Social boycott and stigma still continue."
"Today, I am a jobless man. No one is ready to give me a job because of my past. I can't start my business because no one wants to deal with a 'terrorist', no matter I was honourably acquitted by the court," he added.
While people like retired Justice Ajit Prakash Shah continues to vie for the innocent who have done no wrong but yet served jail terms, is our society doing enough to show them a way to lead life of dignity?
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