Their stay at the Chanchalguda jail is a short one but for those incarcerated here on drunken driving charges, it’s a memorable one. Most of those convicted traffic violators are students or working professionals, usually young and male. The appalling condition of Indian jails is something they are not likely to forget. Syed Mansoor, 43, said he starved for three days as he could not eat the food served in the jail. “For three days, I slept on the floor, woke up at 5 am, and mopped and cleaned the jail premises. I was hungry all the time. There were about 25 people along with me in the same room. I was waiting to get out of the place. It was an experience of a lifetime and I am never going to drink and drive. I still feel guilty about what I did,” he said.
Another 25-year-old, who had to stay for a week at the prison after getting caught in June, says his alcoholic ride was the worst mistake of his life. “My family and friends gave up on me and I felt so terrible. I never want to go back to that phase of my life. I had only seen this in movies. I would cry and long to see my family,” he said. From November 2011 to July 23, 2013, some 11,932 drunken driving cases were registered, 7442 cases in 2013 alone. Of these 630 attracted imprisonment. Women have a better record. Only one woman was found to be drunk when driving in 2011, four in 2012 and eight in 2013. K. Saidaiah, superintendent of Chanchalguda jail, said that the drunken driving convicts are housed in a different enclosure and are expected to wear the jail uniform and also work during their stay in jail.
“A majority of them never expected that they would land in a jail. They are very polite during their counselling session. They react positively and are teary-eyed. Many repent.” Srinivasulu, RI, Traffic Training Institute, said, “Imprisonment in a way is helping reduce the number of drunken driving cases. People will be more careful and will think before they go about committing the offence. They are happy with the counselling and many respond positively.”