When Hindu priest Brij Bihari Pandey was convicted of murder in 2009, he was given a life sentence, but he wasn’t expected to spend that long behind bars because, well, he was pushing 106.
Now, two years later, Pandey is walking out of jail (actually being carried is a better term) and is a free man at last.
Pandey was arrested along with 15 men for the 1987 murders of four people over the inheritance of a Hindu religious institution, the IANS news agency reported.
He was already 84 at the time, but the trial went on for more than two decades.
Pandey spent most of his sentence in a hospital, and was released on bail May 26. He was set free after his son, Avneesh, along with two others, secured his release from a jail in Gorakhpur on grounds of ill health, according to Stuff.co.nz.
"He has become very old now and cannot walk on his own. Since he has come out of the jail, so we are now taking proper care of him," said Vandana Mishra, Pandey’s granddaughter.
He is believed to be the oldest prisoner in the history of Indian prisons, but, interestingly, the relatives weren’t the ones behind Pandey’s release. It was the jail authorities who were finding it difficult to provide him the required medical treatment.
"Pandey had been quite unwell for the past few months and it was becoming increasingly difficult to take care of him as we had to shift him from the jail hospital to the local civil hospital for specialised treatment,” Jail Superintendent Shiv Kumar Sharma told IANS.com. “Therefore, we moved an application for his bail, that was kindly granted by the high court."
So far, Pandey isn’t commenting much about his time behind bars, but sources say he is happy to be free.
"God is great, thank you," Pandey reportedly said upon his release from jail, according to the BBC.