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India

In India, Some Languish In Jail For Decades Awaiting Verdicts

Some 70% of prisoners in India's jails are still awaiting trials, or verdicts of trials long passed. In some cases the wait goes on for decades. For around 100,000 prisoners, the wait may end.

Thousands are languishing behind bars.
Thousands are languishing behind bars.
Bismillah Geelani

NEW DELHI — Vajai Kumari was five months pregnant when she was accused of murdering a neighbor in 1994, which she insists she didn't do and for which she says she was framed.

"I had some ancestral property in my name, and my in-laws had their greedy eyes on that," she says. "So they schemed against me and implicated me in this case. Nobody came forward to help me, and I couldn’t do anything."

She was convicted of murder but appealed the decision in a higher court. That court granted her bail after the birth of her son, but she couldn't afford to pay the $200, and her appeal was never heard.

It wasn't until her son Kanhaiya was 19 and working that he earned the money to bail her out. "I missed her a lot and cried," he says. "I wanted my mother with me, so I started working, and when I made enough money I went to the court again."

This time, though, the court freed her without asking for bail money. She had spent nearly 20 years in jail.

Mohammad Aamir, now 35, was just 18 when he was arrested in Delhi on terror charges.
All of his appeals for bail were denied, and he spent 14 years in jail waiting for a judge to rule on his case.

In the end, he was cleared of all charges, but he says there was little to celebrate. "I had gone out to buy medicine for my mother when I was picked up," he says. "Before I left home my mother said, "Let's have dinner first," but I said, "Let's have it when I come back." I didn't know that I would never be able to eat with my mother again. My father died of shock, and my mother fought relentlessly for justice. But years went by, and she started losing hope. It was her growing despair that caused her brain hemorrhage. Now she is bed-ridden."

Not isolated incidents

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Future

Robot Artists And Us: Who Decides The Aesthetics Of AI?

Ai-Da is touted as the first bonafide robot artist. But should we consider her paintings and poetry original or creative? Is this even art at all?

Ai-Da at work

Leah Henrickson and Simone Natale

Ai-Da sits behind a desk, paintbrush in hand. She looks up at the person posing for her, and then back down as she dabs another blob of paint onto the canvas. A lifelike portrait is taking shape. If you didn’t know a robot produced it, this portrait could pass as the work of a human artist.

Ai-Da is touted as the “first robot to paint like an artist”, and an exhibition of her work called Leaping into the Metaverse opened at the Venice Biennale.

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