She opened the door and saw Roy standing with a worried look.
“Lakhan has been picked up by the police for reasons only the God can answer.” Tantra was taken aback.
Lakhan was from Bihar, a man who shifted to Pune to earn a living by ironing clothes. He had a handcart and lived in a makeshift tent on a barren land. He was true to his work. He used to come and collect clothes from Tantra, Roy and Tuffy. Wash them, iron them and deliver the next day. He had no one here. He used to send a major part of his money to his parents back home. Well Tantra had seen the police demanding money from Lakhan many a times. She always intervened. The police had a common answer that he isn’t a registered hand carter.
Roy and Tantra rode to the police station and saw him behind bars all beaten up. When asked, the police replied, “Well let’s just say that all the robbery cases in your area have now been solved.”
“Then where the fuck is all the stuff,” Roy shouted. The policeman protested saying that he cannot raise his voice in the station and to control his anger or even he would be thrown behind bars. Lakhan was too afraid to even speak. He was just crying. Tantra and Roy couldn’t do much. They thought about approaching the NHRC but they knew it would be futile and hence waited at the station, debating. He was eventually let off.
Roy explained the entire episode to Tuffy and he enquired, “What about my clothes?” That question was worth a tight slap on his face which Tantra promptly did.
It’s a sin that he is homeless in a city like Pune. Such kind of activities thrives throughout India. The largest cases have been reported in Kerala where Tamil migrant workers are picked up by the police and no one exactly knows what happens to them. They are subject to intense torture like their toe nails being pulled out, their legs beaten up with iron rods and the likes.
Lakhan went back to his place and now works in Patna doing the thing he know the best, ironing clothes. Lakhan was lucky enough that he had people who cared about him or else forget about being to Patna, he wouldn’t have seen a world outside the jail. Lakhan wasn’t homeless exactly. Neither was he an orphan. Imagine the problems of an actual homeless or a person with no one who would care about. This practice thrives in all the major cities. There are still a large number of people behind bars still waiting to know the crime they committed.
The handcart was orphaned for sure.
There are a lot of organizations who work for the welfare of such people. Even they ain’t aware about the frequency of such incidents. Who would even come to know when the police whisk away such people from the roads during a late night patrol?
Tuffy did get his clothes back. The three of them had to iron their clothes themselves for about two weeks till a new ‘iron’ man came. They are unaware about his fate but will revolt for sure.
That just saves one person.
What about the others spending a good part of their lives behind bars for a crime they haven’t done. For a crime they never imagined of. For a crime, unknown.