Saturday, December 29, 2007

Machang, who spent 54 years in jail without trial, dies

Machang Lalung (second right) seen with Assamese cine artist Indra Bania, and Aneisha Sharma, director of the short film “Freedom At The Edge,” during its first screening in Guwahati in this file photo.
Special Correspondent Guwahati: Machang Lalung, who spent 54 years in prison without trial, died at his ancestral residence at Silchang in Morigaon district on Tuesday night following a brief illness. He was 79.
He was released in July 2005 on the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) from the LGB Regional Institute of Mental Health at Tezpur.
It was NHRC Special Rapporteur Chaman Lal who brought the shocking neglect of five undertrial prisoners, including Machang, at the hospital to the notice of commission.
NHRC found that Machang, who was only 23 when he was arrested in 1951 from his native village, was never produced in a court though he was declared fit to stand trial after August 9, 1967. He remained an undertrial prisoner in a case under Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code. The NHRC ordered the Assam government to release him immediately.
Later the Supreme Court took a suo motu case and ordered the State government to pay Machang a compensation of Rs.3 lakh and Rs.1,000 every month for life.
Medical and Health Officer, Nellie State Dispensary, Jayanta Kumar Nath told The Hindu that Machang died of “geriatric ailment.”
The funeral was attended, among others, by Guwahati-based filmmaker Aneisha Sharma whose 27-minute film “Freedom at the edge” on Machang’s confinement bagged an award at the Boston International Film Festival this year.
Machang saw the film when it was screened in Guwahati on June 29 this year. He was seated in the front row next to the then Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kamrup (Metropolitan), H.K. Sarma, who ordered his release on a token personal bond of Re. 1.

Friday, December 28, 2007

He lost 54 years of life in jail- and dies two years after his release

Samudra Gupta Kashyap
Posted online: Thursday, December 27, 2007
Silchang (Assam), December 26: For 54 years, he remained behind bars despite no specific charges, forgotten by the law and everyone else, as reported first by The Indian Express. Till he was released on bail in July 2005, following the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). But his freedom was short-lived, as Machang Lalung, 80, died last night.

“Lalung was suffering from various old-age ailments for the past few months. Last week, he was taken to Guwahati Medical College Hospital after he suffered a fracture in his right leg following a fall in his house,” said Dr Jayanta Kumar Nath, medical officer at the Nellie State Dispensary. Lalung died at his ancestral house in Silchang at around 10:30 pm.
Lalung, a tribal from Silchang in Morigaon district of central Assam, was 23 when he went missing. His family thought he had been whisked away by some evil spirit. The only available record in Guwahati Jail says he was booked under Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code. The section pertains to a non-bailable offence for “voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means”. If found guilty, the maximum penalty under this provision is 10 years in prison.
But Lalung was never produced before a magistrate, nor did his case come up for any kind of hearing in the five-and-a-half decades that he remained in custody as an undertrial prisoner. Within weeks of his detention, he was sent to the Gopinath Bardoloi Mental Hospital at Tezpur. And despite repeated letters from the hospital authorities saying that Lalung had recovered and was fit to be taken back, the jail authorities did not respond.
It was only in July 2005 that he was finally released, on a bail for Re 1. The Indian Express report on the case prompted a PIL, following which the Supreme Court directed the Assam government to pay Lalung an interim compensation of Rs 3 lakh apart from a monthly subsistence allowance of Rs 1000. The state government was also directed to arrange regular medical check-up and free treatment for him.
“When we first heard that our granduncle was still alive, we simply could not believe it. When we were children, our grandmother used to tell us about her brother who went missing long ago,” said Sombar Pator, who lit the funeral pyre at the village cremation ground this afternoon.
“It was a strange life that our system forced upon this innocent man,” remarked Aneisha Sharma, whose 23-minute film Freedom at the Edge on Lalung earned accolades at the prestigious Boston International Film Festival earlier this year.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Machang Lalung passes away

Machang Lalung passes awayFrom Our Correspondent MORIGAON, Dec 26 – Machang Lalung, an undertrial prisoner for life who had been released two years back on bail after languishing for nearly 60 years in jail, died last night at his residence at Nellie. He was 80. The tragedy of Machang epitomizes the inherent defects in the country’s judicial system, as Machang was made a prisoner without any trial for a petty offence. Ironically, when he was finally freed in 2005 following an intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), his freedom was on bail only. In a sense, he never experienced true freedom before death ultimately cleared him of his bondage. Machang was sent to the jail in 1946 when he was still in his teens, and he never knew what his offence. All the written documents relating to his case were lost and the person stayed in jail without trial up to 2005. An award-winning documentary, "Freedom at the Edge", was also made on his life by Aenisha Sharma.
"The Assam Tribune" 26th Dec 2007


Newspaper:-The Dainik Janambhumi,Guwahati 15 Dec,2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tasting success

Tasting success
It seems some young Assamese filmmakers are making their mark in the
national and global movie scene in recent times. After tasting success
at the recent Boston film festival, Aneisha Sharma’s Film Freedom at
the Edge is creating ripples worldwide. Based on the story of an innocent 23-year-old Masang Lalung, who was
picked up for no apparent reason and put behind bars before being
released as a frail old man, has touched the hearts of many worldwide.
The story also got rave reviews in all the festivals. Aneisha is now even more happy as the Mumbai International Film
Festival 2008 (February 3 to 9) has selected Freedom at the Edge for
the film and video competition (Indian) section of the festival. This
is the only entry to have been confirmed till now from the Northeast.
It will be good if one or two more films get into the competitive
section from the Northeast in the MIFF. Whatever it is, let’s hope Aneisha’s film Freedom at the Edge succeeds
in showing the international audience the bizarre situation prevailing
in Assam at that time or somewhere even now also! And those blatant
human rights abuses of innocent people by our own armymen are more
heinous for a democratic country like India. Will anyone make a film on
those abuses?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

For the viewers

Thanks for all visitors for viewing my blog.Thanks for your comments. So far the students out side of NE region,would like to see my film,can come and see my film at Mumbai International film festival from 3rd feb. to 9th feb.2008. Date of screening can be get from festival web site.

My next feature film will start from the next year also based on true story.

Thanks for your well wishes.



My film FREEDOM AT THE EDGE selected for Film & Video Competition (Indian) Section
10th Mumbai International Film Festival,
Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India &