“A villager in India’s north-eastern state of Assam has been released from prison after 54 years behind bars without a trial.
Machang Lalung, 77, was arrested in his village of Silsangi in 1951.
Police said that Mr Lalung, from the Lalung tribe, was charged with ‘causing grievous hurt’. A conviction usually results in 10 years’ imprisonment. But police said there was no evidence, so within a year of his arrest he was transferred to a psychiatric institution.
‘It seems the police just forgot about him thereafter,’ said an Assamese human rights activist, Sanjay Borbora.
Mr Lalung cannot remember life before prison.
In 1967 authorities at the institution certified Mr Lalung fully fit and decided to release him. But police then sent him to another jail.
‘Even at this point, the police did not send him to court to face trial; they just kept him in prison,’ Mr Borbora said.
Strangely, even Mr Lalung’s relatives forgot about him.
Last year, human rights activists in Assam brought his case to the attention of the National Human Rights Commission, which took up the case immediately and sought his release.
He was finally freed last week after paying a token personal bond of one rupee (two cents).”