Posts Tagged ‘Jails’

Muslims convicts in India is 19.1%, while the number of undertrials is 22.5%

August 17, 2007

Counter View: A Few Myths, Fewer Facts about Muslims

When Zakir Hussain was sentenced to death by hanging for his part in planting the bombs during the “Bombay Blasts” of 1993, he shouted, “If a Hindu does something, a commission is set up. But if a Muslim does something, he is hanged.” This was in reference to the destruction of the Babri Masjid and the riots that had followed in December 1992 and January 1993.

The Srikrishna Commission, constituted to determine the causes of the riots in which approximately 900 people, predominantly Muslim, were killed, had stated that, “One common link between the riots of December 1992 and January 1993 and bomb blasts of 12th March 1993 appear to be that the former appear to have been a causative factor for the latter. There does appear to be a cause and effect relationship between the two riots and the serial bomb blasts.”

The recommendations of the Commission have never been brought into force. This has led to a number of people speculating whether justice is done to Muslims in India, whether they are being punished disproportionately, that, “Soon India’s jails will be choc-a-block with Muslims.”

Indian Muslims in Jail

In such cases it is possibly best to check the facts. The prison statistics from the National Crimes Record Bureau indicate that the percentage of Muslims convicts in India is 19.1%, while the number of undertrials is 22.5%.

This is higher than the percentage of Muslims living in India, at 13.4% or thereabouts. It would be tempting to shout, “Aha! Proof of bias!” but a rigorous analysis would lead to a more nuanced view because of the geographic distribution of both prison population and Muslims. Over half of Indian Muslims live in the four states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, which account for 21% of convicted prisoners and 42% of undertrials in Indian jails. In effect Indian Muslims live in geographic areas where more people are sent to jail, either as convicts or as undertrials.

A far more fascinating result is that the percentage of Muslims who are undertrials is slightly less than that of those convicted. In other words proportionately more Muslims are adjudged “innocent” than Hindus (whose undertrial to convict ratio is: 69.6% to 70.7% and even Christians (whose undertrial to convict ratio is 3.8% to 4.2%).

Indian Muslims and Crime

The question of bias could also be turned on its head, and it could be said that high proportionately of Muslims means more crime. The data does not support such a conclusion.

The two states where such high population of people are in jail, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have a Muslim population of 18.5% and 16.5% respectively and contribute 6.7% and 5.4% of All-India crimes . West Bengal and Assam, in which the percentage of Muslims is at 25.2% and 30.9%, contribute only 3.6% and 2.3% of all-India crimes.

Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu all produce more than 8.5% of India’s crimes individually, making them the most crime-prone states in the country. In all of these high crime states Indian Muslims make up, at the most, 10.6% of the population, less than the Indian average.

The one state where Muslims constitute a majority of the population, at 67% in Jammu & Kashmir, which has been wracked by militancy and violence, contributes to only 1.1% of Indian crime, about the same as its population compared to all-India figures.

Indian Muslims as Citizens or as Muslims

Despite these statistics it would be idle to say that Indian Muslims do not, from time to time, face problems, as do most people that constitute a marginalised group in society. The recent Sachar Committee report by the Government of India cites very low levels of socio-economic indicators for Indian Muslims.

As a child I lived in the Oil & Natural Commission compound in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. It is a city that has faced many riots and we were the only Muslims in the compound. During times of tension when my father was working offshore on the oilrig, our manservant, Jumraati would assure my mother, “They’ll have to get through me first, behni”.

A decade or so later, my great-uncle, Major-General Afsir Karim, was asked to deploy troops in the same city to help the civilian administration keep the peace. In 2000, when he was with the National Security Advisory Board, he was questioned by a woman during a televised talk show about minorities. He interrupted her to say, “Ma’am, I am a citizen of India, and so are you. What minorities are you talking about?”

His response to state failure is strikingly different to that of the recently convicted Zakir Hussain. Whereas one tried to make sure that such failure did not recur, the other became a pawn used to kill innocents in a supposed act of “vengeance”. For me, between the words of a man of somebody who has put his life on the line many times in the defence of innocent civilians and those of somebody convicted of murdering them, there can only be one choice.

(Omair Ahmad works on issues of Security, Law & Strategic Affairs for PRS Legislative Research, an autonomous institute that provides research support for Indian Parliamentarians. He has previously worked for the British High Commission, New Delhi, and the Voice of America, Washington DC. His novel, “Encounters” on the radicalisation of two young men during the curfew days of the 90s was published in 2007.)

Omair Ahmad / IBNLive Specials; Thursday, August 16, 2007 www.ibnlive.com

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1,493 custodial deaths during 2004 -2005, India’s National Human Rights Commission

May 26, 2007

Custodial Torture is rampant in India

The National Conference stated the statistics of torture as provided by National Human Rights Commission such as 1,493 custodial deaths, including 136 deaths in police custody and 1,357 deaths in judicial custody during 2004-2005 represent only minuscule of the cases of torture in India.

New Delhi, June 25 : The “National Conference on Prevention of Torture in India” organized today by Asian Centre for Human Rights urged the Government to create national law to prohibit and prevent torture.

Participants at the seminar said that the onus should be put on the accused law enforcement personnel for putting in place guarantees for the protection of the victims and witnesses of torture.

The National Conference also called for the repeal of laws which facilitate the perpetration of torture, ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture and extend an invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit India.

The inaugural session of the National Conference was addressed by P C Sharma, former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation and Member of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Parimal Bardan of the Delegation of the European Commission to India and Larry Maybee, Regional Legal adviser of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

With 19 out of 28 States of India presently being afflicted by internal armed conflicts, violence and torture by the security forces and the armed opposition groups have become more blatant, acute and rampant.

The armed opposition groups are responsible for barbaric torture such as chopping off tongues, firing at legs and mutilation of the body parts in order to create fear. Often victims are brutally tortured in full public view and then sentenced to deaths by the so called Jana Adalats. The International Committee of the Red Cross must be permitted to ensure the respect for the Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions on Non-International Armed Conflicts.

The National Conference also censured India’s continued refusal to extend an invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

The National Conference also urged the Government of India to implement recommendations of the Justice (retd) Jeevan Committee to Review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 and to do away with the regime of impunity by repealing Sections 45 and 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code which make it mandatory to seek prior permission of the governments for prosecution of the law enforcement personnel accused of human rights of violations.

Monday 25th June, 2007 (ANI)

Undertrials exceed Convicts in Indian jails

June 24, 2006

Indian jails are packed with people who are still being tried for crimes they may or may not have committed. Many of them are in for petty crimes, often serving a longer jail term than they would have if they had actually been convicted. There are more undertrials in the jails than the convicts at present. In its last survey in 2002, the National Human Rights Commission found that 74 per cent of the prisoners in the country are undertrials.

The National Crime Records Bureau in 2003 has more conservative, but no less shocking, estimates of nearly 67 per cent undertrials.

Shocking tale

The story holds true all over India, even in modern states and cities like Mumbai where a right to information activist asked for details of how many are trapped as prisoners of the law.

Shailesh Gandhi, the activist, found that Maharashtra has twice the number of undertrials than convicts.

In just one of Maharashtra’s 38 prisons, Mumbai Central, as many as 26 undertrials have been there for over 10 years.

Across the state, 336 undertrials have already been in jail for over three years.

Damning factors

The culprit is not just legal delays. The situation becomes even more grim because of the indifference towards prisoners.

They are left in prison for years for minor glitches like case papers getting lost or eaten up by rodents. In other cases, there are no escorts to accompany them to court.

“There was a 23-year-old man who had been in jail for three years. First he was not produced in court when he should have. Then the judges were not available. Later there was no lawyer to speak for him. So nobody gave a damn and he remained in jail,” said Yug Mohit Chaudhry, a lawyer.

What is worse is that thousands of undertrials remain in jail because they’re uneducated and too poor to get lawyers or even pay bail.

“Most people are arrested for petty crimes like stealing a manhole cover. We had a case where a worker stole a vada pav Rs 2 because he hadn’t been paid. He was in jail for six months,” said Vijay Hiremath from the India Centre for Human Rights and Law.

“The problem often is the high bail amount. The rich can pay, but the poor have no choice. They can’t hire lawyers and even the most elementary legal aid. So they end up staying in jail even though there’s no evidence on record”.

It’s ironic that in a country where the powerful routinely get away with bail even in serious crimes, the poor languish in jails for years for petty stuff.

Tuesday, 20 June 2006,Priyanka Kakodkar, Imtiaz Jaleel, NDTV.COM

60,000 arrest warrants against politicians pending in West Bengal

February 19, 2006

KOLKATA — West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya says he has no option but to arrest wanted politicians because Election Commission wants all arrest warrants against political leaders to be executed come what may before poll dates are announced. Bhattacharya expressed his helplessness yesterday on the floor of the West Bengal legislative assembly. “Personally, I’m opposed to arresting politicians. But I have to follow the EC’s directives. My hands are tied”, the CM told the house. Almost 60,000 arrest warrants issued by courts against politicians of all hues were pending in the state until Tuesday.

On Tuesday, EC ordered chief secretary, home secretary, director-general of police and state election officer to appear before the poll panel in New Delhi on February 20 to give them a dressing down for their failure to arrest politicians. Since the summons, 1,400 arrest warrants have been executed at breck-neck speed across the Left Front ruled state in deference to the powerful EC’s diktat.

Senior officials said the commission’s instruction to execute all non-bailable warrants has been conveyed to all district superintendents of police and raids are taking places everywhere in the state. Mamata Banerjee had earlier dared the government to execute a warrant against her. The Barasat court had ordered the police to arrest her in connection with a 1994 incident in the North 24-Parganas district headquarters in which a man was killed in police firing. But the police did nothing. State CPI(M) secretary, Anil Biswas, said the government had no plans to arrest the Trinamool Congress chief, because it didn’t want to hand a poll plank to the opposition on a platter. In the Assembly, Bhattacharya said without naming Banerjee that the Barasat incident was much more dangerous than the case in which CPI(M) Minister Narayan Biswas had to resign from the government and surrender in court.

Significantly, Biswas put in his papers on Bhattacharya’s insistence. The warrant against Biswas, a leader from Balurghat, was pending for 26 years. “Having learnt about the status of Narayan’s case, we asked him to resign. But we didn’t do that in your (the Trinamool leader’s) case. I don’t want to touch you at all. But my only compulsion is the Election Commission”, the CM said looking in the direction of TC legislators. Things suddenly started moving after EC, which is very unhappy with the West Bengal government’s failure to execute thousands of non-bailable arrest warrants, summoned senior-most state officials to Delhi for a dressing down. But the government’s strategy for execeuting the arrest warrant against Banerjee is still a mystery.