How a jailed schizophrenic inspired prison reform in India

Ozy | January 21, 2019

Roy Varghese refused to be called by his name. Instead, he asked fellow inmates in ward No. 10 of India’s Jaipur Central Jail, where he was serving a 10-year sentence for drug trafficking, to call him Hitler Baba Khan. In his mind, he crusaded against enemies on the battlefield; in real life, he was struggling with schizophrenia...

Sugandha Shankar, of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, worked on Khan’s case. She explains: “According to the law, mentally unstable prisoners should not be kept in jail at all and in fact are supposed to be sent to either psychiatric facilities or their closest relatives” once they’ve agreed to care for them. The law failed Khan and, Shankar adds, “[his] case made the courts realize that periodic review committees need to do a better job.”

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