Breaking the prisoner
The Indian Express Delhi|October 28, 2021
The ‘anda cell might not exist in prison manuals, but it is a much-publicised element of Indian jails used to discipline the inmate
JINEE LOKANEETA

FRENCH PHILOSOPHER MICHEL Foucault in his classic, Discipline and Punish, writes about how executions as spectacles are gradually replaced in modern societies by disciplinary power in prisons, where the focus is on confinement and targeting the soul of a person with the help of experts. A trace of torture always remains as a part of punishment, notes Foucault, though modern states tend to deny that.

The torturous practice of solitary confinement, whether for 24 hours or a large part of a day, remains a key feature of modern prisons, sometimes by another name. The continued use of an "anda" (egg-shaped) cell or high security cell in the Indian context appears to be, in effect, the use of solitary confinement - defined by many as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or torture – by another name. The news that eminent journalist and human rights activist and scholar implicated in the Bhima Koregaon case, Gautam Navlakha, has been moved to an “anda” circle in Taloja jail on October 12 is just another reminder that imprisonment itself appears inadequate for the state. Instead, there is a constant need to continually break the body and soul of a person by making the conditions more challenging. Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on torture, in 2020 noted: "The severe and often irreparable psychological and physical consequences of solitary confinement and social exclusion are well documented and can range from progressively severe forms of anxiety, stress, and depression to cognitive impairment and suicidal tendencies.”

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