Karan Oberoi: ‘I Shall Fight To Ensure NO Man Suffers Like Me’

Karan Oberoi: ‘I Shall Fight To Ensure NO Man Suffers Like Me’

Karan Oberoi speaks to Subhash K Jha about his incarceration and what it has taught him over the weeks
Karan Oberoi: ‘I Shall Fight To Ensure NO Man Suffers Like Me’
Karan Oberoi

Karan, first of all welcome back!

Thank you. It feels like a second birth for me. I can’t begin to tell you what life is like inside there. Prison is the worst place on this planet. I think it’s inhuman for anyone to go through what I’ve gone through. Because of the support I had outside I was able to withstand this horrific experience.

I can only imagine what you’ve been through...

The healing process is on. Right now, I suddenly start crying for no reason. I am very certain that if I heal others I will feel healed. This past one month has been a time of tremendous churning for me. In there (prison) I met hundreds of inmates with far worse stories than me. Their predicament made me decide to fight for equality of laws for men and women in gender-related crimes.

Was that your takeaway from this harrowing experience?

Yes absolutely. It was this thought that keep me going for that one nightmarish month — that there are innocent people in there locked away because they cannot afford legal fees. I wanted to come out and fight for them.

While you were away you friend Pooja Bedi was fighting for you be released?

She is my guardian angel, my saviour. I am blessed that there were so many people praying and fighting for me while I was incarcerated with hardened criminals. Meditation kept me going. And the determination that when I come out, I shall fight to make sure that no innocent man suffers like me. I had to be the voice of those who had no voice. This was one of the thing that kept me going.

Were you treated well by the other inmates?

You know, Sir, there was not one person in there who believed I was guilty. That gave me strength. Some of them told me bluntly that they were hardened criminals and that they could identify a criminal from miles away. I saw a lot of empathy and kindness inside there. I saw a lot of humanity inside. In fact my most life-reforming moment came when I was walking out of prison after bail. Twenty of the inmates walked me to the gate, although it was strictly against the rule and they might have been severely beaten for doing this. They still did it.

How did this monstrous abuse of law happen? How did this lady think she could get away with it?

The laws are weighed heavily in a woman’s favour. Somewhere some women have lost their empathy in the pursuit of money. In a consumerist society like ours, some of us begin to think of people as a means to make money. A lot of women are manipulating the laws. My case came into the limelight. There are unknown cases of 20-21 years old who are imprisoned illegally because they have no proper legal representation. Many of them can’t even afford the money to pay for their bail. It’s a very sad reflection of where our society is heading. I have come out with a strong mission.

Karan, what can be said about your choice of women friends?

(Laughs uneasily) I really don’t know, Sir. Even my family has questioned me about this. What can I say in my defence? I am a positive person and I see positivity in everyone. I was very naïve. I believed everything I was told by this person. I was only trying   to help her get her out of her black-magic profession. I tried diverting her mind by asking her to do up my home, hoping she would become a more positive person. Even in jail I reached out to many inmates with the offer to help .I need to smarten up. About time I woke up and smelled the coffee.

Are you smartening up about manipulative relationships?

Smartened up yes. But not hardened. I have come out of jail gentler and more empathetic than before. Because I know there are people in the world who are far less fortunate than me. I got bail, what about those who are languishing inside?

We all know you are not a criminal, Karan. The point is, how did this happen?

Because I am naïve and trusting and because I believed I could change this lady’s mind set which was poisoned with black magic and voodoo.

When you were in prison were you aware of how your case was going?

I got to know. The lifers are allowed newspapers. They’d come and tell I’d be okay after reading news about me. I got a lot of support within prison.

How has your family taken to your release from jail?

My mother was the most severely affected by my ordeal.  A few nights ago I was sitting with my father. He was reminiscing about how my grandmother sent four of her sons to the battlefront in the army navy and air force in the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars, not expecting to see them back. This is the kind of sacrifice that my family has made. He was feeling a little melancholic being repaid in such a way for the service to the country. I told him there will always be injustice in the world and I thanked him for raising his son to be man enough to fight against injustice. There are so many issues that I want to address like prison reforms. We in the entertainment industry live in a bubble. When you see people far less privileged than us from close quarters only then you realize how cut off we are from reality.

Would this experience make you wary of having a relationship in the future?

Honestly, yes. I would be more cautious. But having said that I will continue to love with all my heart. That’s the way I am built. And I am proud of it. But yes, I will be more careful in the future and not allow anyone to con me.

Has the course of the law in your case embittered you?

It has disappointed me. A lot of the investigating agencies do take money and then bungle up cases. When I went to the police station I was fooled into believing I was only going for a conversation based on my complaint. I didn’t know I wouldn’t come back for a month. I am young and strong and privileged. What about those who are none of these? They suffer horribly. Now that I am campaigning with Pooja Bedi for MenToo. I am told about generations of patriarchy. But that can’t be put on the shoulder of innocent people! Suffering should have no gender. Today I broke down when a mother came to me and said her son is gone (in prison) and that she sees me as her son. I told her, ‘I am your son and I’m going to fight for your son.’

The law is not for the poor?

It is not, Sir. Lawyers are very expensive. There are prisoners who are inside because they don’t have Rs. 5,000 bail money. This has to change.

Your message to the woman who put you through this?

God bless her. Anyone who puts anyone else through such suffering must be suffering so much herself. As far as the law is concerned, I am not sure after what I’ve been through. A court order for her arrest is still unattended. I can only try to get justice. Can you imagine the mind-set of a woman who attacks herself just so that a person doesn’t get bail? It’s a criminal bent of mind. Inmates in prison told me, ‘Brother, she beats us.’ They were shocked that someone could do this to me.

Your one takeaway from the experience?

Help the innocent to be free.

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