KOCHI: In recent years, Kerala has seen an influx of migrant workers. But the data available with the Prisons Department gives a dark portend - in a few years, migrants will occupy nearly half of the jail space in the state. From cold-blooded murders to ganja sale, the involvement of workers from other states - mainly from West Bengal, Assam, Odisha and Jharkand - in criminal activities has been escalating.
The officials also revealed that majority of the migrant inmates in jails were accused of theft and snatching cases and many of them were history sheeters.
Official records reveal that among the around 7,000 inmates lodged in the state’s prisons, 492 are under trial prisoners from other states. Of this, 37 are women. Last year, the number was 443. K Radhakrishnan, former DIG Prisons (Central Zone) and Director of Training Institute, Viyyur, said migrant workers constituted about 10 percent of the jails’ population.
“The involvement of migrant workers in crimes is evident now. The Jisha murder case is the latest example and the arrested is a migrant labourer from Assam - Ameerul Islam,” he said.
“Migrant labourers are flocking to the state for jobs and they are being employed in many sectors. But their involvement in criminal activities have also been going up. So, prisons are witnessing an increase in the number of inmates from other states,” they said. “Though there are inmates from other states who have been booked for crimes like murder and assault cases, majority of them are punished in theft cases. Many of them are employed in seasonal occupations and often they join criminal gangs when they have no work,” said Radhakrishnan.
The Ernakulam Central Police recently busted a three-member gang headed by Raja,22, hailing from West Bengal, engaged in stealing home appliances. Agents bring workers from various states across India and from Bangladesh without valid documents.