Bhopal: Close to 58% of prisoners in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh’s jails are from Scheduled Tribes (STs), Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Muslim community, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2019.
As per the 2011 Census, the population of SCs, STs and Muslims in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh is nearly 47%. A total of 9.58 crore people is the combined population of both the states.
According to the latest NCRB data released on September 1, there are 62,501 convicted inmates and undertrials in 164 jails in both states. Of them, 36,349 persons are either SCs, STs or Muslims. Shockingly, the number of tribal inmates is nearly half of the total inmates.
The report, which has data till December 31, 2019, further mentioned that more than 70% of the convicted and undertrial inmates are either illiterate or have studied till below class 10. A majority of the inmates have been booked for murder, attempt to murder, rape, theft and under the narcotics act in both the states.
Total number of inmates in in MP & CG
“Illiteracy, poor defence in court and a lack of financial support is the major reason behind the high number of SC, ST and Muslim inmates,” said a senior official of the Madhya Pradesh Jail Department.
According to the Indian judicial system, to prove one's innocence in court, the accused should have an advocate, either private or provided by the government. However, private advocates charge a hefty amount for defending clients and government advocates have no incentive to pay heed to their cases. Since they belong to marginalised sections of society, they can’t afford a private advocate. Hence, they suffer, the officer said.
“Due to their poor defence in the court, most of them face imprisonment,” the official claimed.
Lalji Mishra, a retired DIG of the Madhya Pradesh Jail Department, said: “Aside from illiteracy, most of the inmates from the SC, ST and minority community are also daily wagers who hardly make both ends meet.” He added that some of the undertrials spend months in jail since they have no money to make bail. Some even prefer to stay inside rather than pay a hefty sum and be free.
Mishra also pointed out that on occasions, police officials frame them in order to keep their service record healthy, sometimes under the influence of money and power.
“If we fix the loopholes of the judicial system and at least provide them a competent advocate, these figures will fall drastically,” he added.
Status of MP
Madhya Pradesh’s jails have 36,349 inmates from minority communities out of the 44,601 prisoners in all. Of them, nearly 9,902 are members of the SC community, 11,197 are STs and 4,991 are Muslims.
Madhya Pradesh has 131 jails, including 11 central and six open jails, with a combined capacity of 28,718 inmates. However, the state has 44,603 inmates including 1,758 women inmates. It is overcrowded by over 55% with 15,885 more inmates than stipulated.
The state has 12 foreign nationals as inmates and 638 inmates from other states. In 2019, 1.55 lakh people from the state were in jail, including 4,223 women.
Madhya Pradesh’s population has 21.1% STs, 15.62% SCs and 6.57% of its people are Muslims. The 2011 Census said that 7.2 crore people reside in the state.
Status of Chhattisgarh
The tribal-dominated state of Chhattisgarh has 10,259 inmates who belong to the SC, ST and Muslim communities out of a total of 18,112 inmates – accounting for 57% of the total inmates.
The State has 33 jails, including five central and 12 district jails, with a capacity of 12,063 inmates. However, with 18,122 prisoners, it is overcrowded by over 50%.
The State has six foreign nationals and 455 inmates from other States. In 2019, 45,424 inmates landed up in jails in the state.
According to the 2011 Census, Chhattisgarh is a tribal dominated state with 39% of its citizens members of the tribal community. The SC and Muslim population is 12.82% and two percent respectively out of the 2.56 crore population.