I am from a village called Kanhau near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. The patch of land we owned wasn’t enough to feed the family. My elder brother was working in a factory in Noida and I went to live with him. I worked in the factory and lived in a rented room. The landlord’s daughter was 16 at the time. We fell in love, we wanted to get married.
Her father got to know and I vacated the room. We planned to elope. Her father used to pick her up from school around 2 pm everyday, but one day she said she would be free earlier. On 8 July 2006, we went to Chandigarh, then to Pune where we spent three months. We couldn’t get married. I worked odd jobs like delivering milk. She stayed home. But they caught my brother and locked him in the factory. They brought me to Delhi in October that year. They set my brother free, but kept me in custody and beat me up frequently.
They filed a case, and I was sent to prison. For my bail, my father sold off his land, and in October 2007, I got bail. When we tried to arrive at some compromise, we couldn’t. I was married off in the village, but in 2009, I was sentenced to prison by the trial courts. I got seven years. I have a wife and daughter in the village.
We wake up early, meditate and have breakfast. Then we work in the workshops making artefacts, or in the mill. There is a teacher for those who want to learn singing or painting. I spend most of my days working in the mill or sitting by myself.
It is a tough life. I cry at night. I keep running my fingers over the photos of my children, but I haven’t heard from my family in two years. My parents are unwell and they don’t have money to come see me. I just hope when I am released and go back to my village, all is not lost.
(Vinod Ramesh, 28, was convicted for the rape of a minor. He is an inmate of Jail No 2, Tihar Prisons)
As told to Chinki Sinha