Covid human dimension series: Jailed father meets daughter for first time in 33 years

Even as Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across India, but the distressful situation has turned out to be a succour to the rarest of the rare reunion between a father and his daughter in Kerala, for the first time after 33 years.

The 65-year-old man Sivaji has been cooling his heels at the central prison in the state capital, while his 33-year-old daughter R. Ajitha decided to meet her father, whom she had never seen as he went underground, month after she was born in 1988. Later, he was arrested for murder in the same year.

Since then he had tried four times to escape the prison cell, but each time he was caught and put behind the bars.

Speaking to IANS, Ajitha, who is an active CPI-M worker, recalled the sequence of events and is really excited that her efforts paid off and she was able to meet her father.

“My father while living in Alappuzha district had a tiff with a local Congress worker, in which the former sustained critical injuries. But, in 1985, a fight again ensued between the two, that resulted in the death of the Congressman and my father evaded the spot,” said Ajitha.

“After the murder, my father went underground and married my mother. But in 1988, he was arrested on the murder charge and I was then just a month old. Since then he attempted to escape four times from the jail and each time he was caught,” she added.

Following Sivaji’s arrest, his wife had committed suicide after one year, and by that time their she grew up in the company of her maternal grandmother who is presently 90-year-old.

As time passed by, Ajitha heard about Sivaji’s name from her relatives and much later she realised it was her father and is currently lodged in a jail.

“The first time when I decided to meet my father was after a TV programme telecast inside the jail premise and then I found out that my father was lodged at the central jail in the state capital. I had then started planning to meet him and got in touch with the local CPI-M leaders at Palakkad, where I live with my husband (who works in a food unit at Kozhikode) and three children,” Ajitha said.

Although officials did their best to help her, but the only hurdle according to Ajitha was the son of that slain Congress leader, who is now a police official.

“Even though the maximum sentence for a crime of this nature is 14 years and even when the extension is applied for each jail break, he ought to be free after 16 years, but what I was told is that the report against him inside the jail premise is bad and hence he continues to be there,” added Ajitha.

She said a glimmer of hope emerged last year, when the court decided to give parole for prisoners on account of Covid, but her father failed to get that benefit.

“But this time, when the apex court ruled again to give parole, my father got it and I came from Palakkad on Wednesday and met my father for the first time. We took the night train and reached home on Thursday morning.

My three kids and we are all happy, that we could finally get to see my father. We are all really delighted and the parole is now for three months, after which he will have to go back. Meanwhile, we will also try to see if he can get remission,” added Ajitha.