Not much change in ‘ovrecrowded’ Indian jails

Nothing much has changed in “overcrowded” Indian jails where socially and economically downtrodden forms the bulk, according to a latest report on prisons.

The ‘Prison Statistics India 2015’ released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on Saturday showed that 114 prisoners shared the space meant for 100 last year, though it betters the figure of 117 in 2014.

Among them, two-third of the prisoners are Dalits and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) while around 19 per cent are Muslims. Around 28 per cent are illiterates and another set of 42 per cent have never seen colleges.

By 2015-end, there were over 4.19 lakh prisoners staying in jails, which had space for just 3.66 lakh people. The decrease in occupancy to 114.4% from 117.4% was managed as only there was an increase of 1,087 prisoners while the capacity rose by 10,220. In 2014, the capacity increase was 8,702.

Undertrials accounted for 67.2% of the prisoners though the numbers have slightly decreased last year by 803 to 2.82 lakh. Convicts numbered 1.34 lakh.

“In recent years, it is one of the biggest problems faced by prison inmates. Overcrowding results in poor hygiene, lack of sleep etc. Keeping in view the human rights of the prisoners, it is essential that they are given reasonable space and facilities in jails,” the report said.

While 15 states, including the big ones like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, GujaratKarnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, have an occupancy rate less than 100 per cent, the major culprits in the keeping the national rate above 100 per cent are Chhattisgarh (233.9%), Delhi (226.9) and Uttar Pradesh (168.8).

The highest rate of occupancy was reported in Dadra and Nagar Haveli at 276.7 per cent.

Chhattisgarh jails are housing 17,662 prisoners in the space for 7,552 while in Delhi it has 14,183 in the space of 6,250.

Karnataka has improved its figures from 2014 — it now has 13,473 prisoners while it can actually house 14,046 prisoners. In 2014, Karnataka jails housed 14,221 prisoners in the space for 13,381.

A demographic analysis of the prisoners showed that Scheduled Castes accounted for 20.9% (28,033) of the 1.34 lakh convicts lodged in jails while Scheduled Tribes prisoners were 13.7 per cent (18,403). The number of OBC convicts were 41,931, which is 31.2 per cent.

The figures are almost similar for undertrials also. An analysis on the basis of caste based classification of undertrial prisoners revealed that 34.4% (97,129 out of 2,82,076) and 31.5% of total undertrial prisoners belonged to General and OBC categories respectively.

The report said 21.6% (61,139) of undertrials belonged to Scheduled Castes while 12.4% (34,999) belonged to Scheduled Tribes.

When it comes to religious faith of the prisoners, around 70 per cent of them are Hindus — 72.64% (97,471) of the convicts and 69.8% (1,96 lakh) of undertrials.

Muslims account for 15.8% (21,220) among convicts and 20.9% (59,053) among undertrials.

Sikhs have around 17,000 prisoners while there are around 16,000 in jails. People from other religious denominations account for around 7,300.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Oct 23, 2016)

 

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Bulk of Indian prisoners are Dalits, OBCs, Muslims

Socially and economically downtrodden form the bulk of Indians lodged in prisons, a latest government report has underlined.

Two-third of the prisoners in lodged in Indian jails are Dalits and Other Backward Castes while around 19 per cent are Muslims. Around 28 per cent are illiterates and another set of 42 per cent have never seen colleges, according to Prison in India 2015.

The report released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) Scheduled Castes accounted for 20.9% (28,033) of the 1.34 lakh convicts lodged in jails while Scheduled Tribes prisoners were 13.7 per cent (18,403).

The number of OBC convicts was 41,931, which is 31.2 per cent. Prisoners from general category were 34.1 per cent.

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By Caste Convicts and Undertrials

Scheduled Caste – 89,172 – 21.25%

Scheduled Tribes – 53,402 – 12.72%

OBC –1,30,740 – 31.15%

General – 1,42,930 – 34.06%

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The figures are almost similar for undertrials also. An analysis on the basis of caste based classification of undertrial prisoners revealed that 34.4% (97,129 out of 2,82,076) and 31.5% of total undertrial prisoners belonged to General and OBC categories respectively.

According to the report, 21.6% (61,139) of undertrials belonged to Scheduled Castes while 12.4% (34,999) belonged to Scheduled Tribes.

When it comes to religious faith of the prisoners, around 70 per cent of them are Hindus — 72.64% (97,471) of the convicts and 69.8% (1,96 lakh) of undertrials.

Muslims account for 15.8% (21,220) among convicts and 20.9% (59,053) among undertrials.

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By RELIGON Convicts and Undertrials

Hindus – 2,84,312 – 67.75%

Muslims – 80,273 – 19.12%

Sikhs – 18,424 – 4.39%

Christians – 15,921 – 3.79%

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Sikhs have around 17,000 prisoners while there are around 16,000 in jails. People from other religious denominations account for around 7,300.

Of the total convicts, 36,406 out of 1,34,168 convicts lodged in various jails were reported as illiterate and 57,610 convicts were educated below class X. These two categories accounted for 27.1% and 42.9% respectively.

Uttar Pradesh (7,215), Madhya Pradesh (4,743), Punjab (3,344), Chhattisgarh (2,789) and West Bengal (2,574) have together accounted for 56.8% of illiterate convicts.

Uttar Pradesh had reported the highest number of graduate convicts (1,553) followed by Punjab (668), Madhya Pradesh (581), Rajasthan (551) and Haryana (550). The highest number of post graduate convicts were also reported from Uttar Pradesh (566) followed by Punjab (267) and Madhya Pradesh (224).

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By Education Convicts and Undertrials

Illiterates – 1,16,934 –27.86%

Below Class X – 1,76,692 – 42.10%

Class X but Below Graduation – 61,054 – 14.54 %

Graduation – 23,552 – 5.61%

Post Graduation – 7,685 – 1.83%

Technical degree/diploma – 4,300 – 1.02%

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A total of 80,528 undertrial prisoners were illiterate and 1,19,082 were educated below class X standard, together accounting for 70.8%.

Uttar Pradesh had reported the highest number of undertrial prisoners who were graduates (5,453) followed by Maharashtra (1,280), Bihar (1,050), Rajasthan (974), and Madhya Pradesh (841). Maximum number of post graduate undertrials (1,822) were lodged in Uttar Pradesh prisons.

(Oct 23, 2016)

Move on foot in crime-prone localities: MHA to Police

Policemen should move on foot in crime-prone localities to gather intelligence and prevent any untoward criminal incident, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked states.

The MHA is also miffed at states for not complying with the directive on compulsory registration of FIRs and wanted them to bring transparency and efficiency in policing to improve the image of police.

The recent advisories to state Chief Secretaries comes against the backdrop of decisions taken at the conference of Directors General of Police held in Gujarat Rann of Kutch December last year where it was proposed to make intelligence gathering robust besides other things.

In one of the advisories issued on Monday, the MHA said the Centre attaches the highest importance to prevention of crime. It had advised states from time to time to give more focussed attention to the administration of criminal justice system with emphasis on prevention of crime and control of crime, the advisory said.

It reminded the states about the proposal cleared at the DGPs conference, which suggested that police be encouraged to move on foot in at least 500 towns and cities in the first place.

The states should “put in place a mechanism to ensure that policemen in crime prone areas and gather intelligence for preventing crime”, the advisory said. States “should take appropriate actions” so that the work relating to intelligence gathering in prevention of crime “does not get neglected”.

Recalling contents of a 2010 circular, the MHA also said investigation wing should be separated from law and order duty and encourage outsourcing of non-core police functions like issuance of court summons to free more policemen for core policing functions.

Another advisory spoke about the MHA’s unhappiness over the inaction of states in not ensuring that all complaints are registered. “The Ministry is receiving reports from various quarters about non-compliance” on this, it said.

“It is the duty of the state/UT administrations to bring transparency as well as efficiency in the governance framework so that public trust in government service delivery is upheld and image of police is also kept in high esteem,” the advisory said.

“Therefore, the state governments/UT administrations must ensure utmost promptness in registering FIRs without any discrimination and jurisdiction and also make available the copy of FIR,” it added.

The MHA also advised the states to use the “resultant increase in crime statistics, if any” as a criteria for opening new police stations, deployment of additional police forces as well as for their better training.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Oct 10, 2016)

Arundhati’s new novel to hit stands next June

Nineteen years after ‘The God of Small Things’ wove a magic spell around readers, writer Arundhati Roy will be back with her second fiction next June.

Her publisher Hamish Hamilton UK and Penguin India on Monday announced that they will be publishing the 54-year-old’s ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’.

This will be Roy’s first work of fiction since ‘The God of Small Things’, which won the Booker Prize in 1997.

arundhati-roy

“I am glad to report that the mad souls (even the wicked ones) in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness have found a way into the world, and that I have found my publishers,” Roy said in a statement.

The publishers Simon Prosser of Hamish Hamilton and Meru Gokhale of Penguin India said it is both a pleasure and an honour to publish “an incredible book”, which has “multiple levels, one of the finest we have read in recent times”.

“The writing is extraordinary, and so too are the characters – brought to life with such generosity and empathy, in language of the utmost freshness, joyfully reminding us that words are alive too, that they can wake us up and lend us new ways of seeing, feeling, hearing, engaging. It makes the novel new – in the original meaning of novel,” they said.

Roy’s literary agent David Godwin said, “utterly original. It has been 20 years in the making. And well worth the wait.”

Though Roy has not written a fiction since her debut novel, she had created storms through her essays on Narmada struggle, Maoists, condemnation of India’s nuclear tests and US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

She has also acted films like ‘In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones’, for which she also bagged the national award for screenplay.

(An edited story appeared in Deccan Herald on Oct 4, 2016)

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