Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

by Swarnasankha Acharjee

Present Time!

A little over three years into his seven years of detention, Avinash was released from the Central Jail.

Three Years Ago!

Avinash was one of the most hardworking employees of Ritam IT Solutions. Within a few years, he became the apple of his boss’ eyes. Everyone looked upon him as an ideal employee. He was a man of high moral values as well. He was always punctual and a helping hand to his colleagues.

He lived with his widowed mother and his younger sister. His sister, Anita has joined the State Engineering College in Computer science. His late father served in the army. All in all, they were a respected family in the neighborhood. Avinash and Anita were used as examples for the young growing-up children in the locality.

During his college days, Avinash fell in love with Shweta. Shweta was pursuing her Master’s in Zoology. Both of them were living a very happy relationship life and in a few months, they were about to get married.

All these would have stayed pretty good and prosperous for Avinash had he not met Neeti. His meeting with Neeti put his name in the mud. Everything around him changed in a split second. Everyone who used him as an example for their children now started cursing him. To make things worse for him, he was ripped off his job. He lost all his honor, all his respect. At such difficult times, people often look up to family and close ones for support. But, when they turned their back, he had no way out.

It was a cold December night and Avinash was returning late at night after completing his office work. As he was on his way back home, he saw a girl tumbling on the footpath. He rushed to help her on her feet, but she was too drunk to stand on her own. He asked her if she needed a lift or any other help to which she nodded. So Avinash gave her a shoulder. Little did he know that it was probably the biggest mistake of his life.

He helped her get into his car and asked her address. But she was too drunk to respond. He wondered for quite a while what he should do and kept on asking Neeti for her address. To his aid, Shruti, Neeti’s roommate, called her. Avinash picked up the call and explained the situation. He asked for the address and eventually arrived in front of a girl’s PG. Along with Shruti, Avinash helped Neeti to her room. Anita and his mother back home were a little anxious as the clock kept ticking away. When he returned home, he explained everything to them. Anita even teased him by showing the lipstick mark on his shirt, which got implanted accidentally while helping Neeti.

A few days later, the SI of the local police station came to Avinash’s house with an arrest warrant. Neeti filed a complaint of sexual harassment on Avinash. He was taken into custody immediately.

The next day, he was presented before the court and he pleaded not guilty. While he had no evidence to validate his points, the prosecution kept on producing one after another. The place from where he picked up Neeti had a CCTV camera. The footage from the camera was produced before the court. Anita and his mother were questioned and when they confirmed his late arrival, suspicion on him deepened. The prosecutor even put up the time lag he took to figure out what was necessary. He used this time lag against Avinash.

As is the case with many sexual harassment cases, Avinash found it difficult to get a defense lawyer. No one was willing to take up his case. Anita and his mother, who were so proud of him, now felt ashamed of him. They didn’t even come to meet him in the jail. Even Shweta turned her back to him. It was at this moment he gave up the fight. He was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment.

Almost three years passed by when finally, Shruti, the roommate of Neeti decided it was time for her to speak up. And thus after three years of detention, Avinash was set free as innocent.

Present Time!

Avinash came out of jail. He looked messy. Long, dry, entangled messy hairs and beard were his only companions. Neither Anita nor his mother was happy with the news of his release. Shweta had ended all her ties with Avinash.

Avinash on his way home found eyes staring at him with hatred. On reaching his house, he saw hatred and shame in the eyes of Anita and his mother. He silently slipped off to his room without a single word.

The next day, Anita woke up early in the morning and opened the front door. What she saw next left her scarred for the rest of her life. She found the dead body of her brother lying there in a pool of blood.


About the Author:

Swarnasankha Acharjee is a writer from  Agartala, Tripura in India. 

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