MUMBAI: The percentage of Dalit inmates in jails across India is disproportionately higher than their collective population, according to the Prison Statistics India 2013 released by the National Crime Records Bureau last week.
While SC/STs constitute 25.2 per cent of Indian population as per Census 2011, their proportion among the roughly 4.2 lakh prisoners in Indian jails is considerably high at 33.2 per cent. The trend is similar among all types of prisoners like convicts, under-trials and detainees. Sociologists and Dalit activists have attributed this to political exploitation and prejudicial attitude of the police towards members of the SC/ST communities.
Data show that Rajasthan jails house the largest chunk of Dalit inmates followed by Gujarat.
While 45.8 per cent of the prisoners are SC/STs in Rajasthan, in Gujarat they constitute 43.6 per cent. Other major states that have reported considerably high difference between percentage of SC/ST population and prisoners are Assam, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
While the percent of SC/ST population in Tamil Nadu is 21.2, the percentage of SC/ST prisoners in the state is 38.4 – a difference of 17.3 per cent. Compared to 2001, when 39 per cent of prisoners belonged to SC/ST, the numbers now seem better. But Gujarat, Rajasthan, Assam and Kerala are also among the states that have bucked the trend of decreasing proportion of SC/ST prisoners over the decade.
While the percentage of SC/ST population in Gujarat went down by 0.4 since 2001, percentage of SC/ST prisoners went up by 5.5 from 38.2 to 43.6 per cent.