Of the total 4,78,600 prison inmates in the country, 3,15,409 or 65.90 percent belong to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Class categories, according to government data presented in Parliament on Wednesday. The prison statistics presented by the Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy were based on a compilation of data by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) updated till December 31, 2019.
Rajya Sabha member Syed Nasir Hussain had sought to know if the majority of prisoners in the country's jails are Dalits and Muslims, a category-wise break-up on their numbers, and what efforts the government was making to rehabilitate and educate them. According to Reddy's written response, there were 4,78,600 prisoners across jails in the country of which 3,15,409 (65.90 percent) belonged to the SC, ST, and OBC categories, while 1,26,393 fell in the 'Others' group.
A detailed break-up of the figures showed that 1,62,800 prisoners ( 34.01 percent) belonged to the OBC category, 99,273 (20.74 percent) to the SC category, and 53,336 (11.14 percent) to the ST category. Of the total 4,78,600 prison inmates in the country, 4,58,687 (95.83 percent) were men and 19,913 (4.16 percent) women, the data showed.
Of the total 19,913 imprisoned women, 6,360 (31.93 percent) belonged to the OBC category, while 4,467 (22.43 per cent) were SC, 2,281 (11.45 percent) were ST, and 5,236 (26.29 per cent) in the 'Others' category, it showed. Among states and union territories, Uttar Pradesh had the overall highest number of prisoners 1,01,297 (or 21.16 percent of the country's total prison inmates) — followed by Madhya Pradesh (44,603) and Bihar (39,814).
The maximum number of prisoners from the OBC, SC, and 'Others' categories were in Uttar Pradesh jails, while ST community's in Madhya Pradesh jails, according to the data. West Bengal had not furnished prison statistics for 2018 and 2019 because of which its figures from 2017 were used in the data, while Maharashtra's category-wise break-up was 'not available', the data mentioned.
Responding to Hussain's query on the Centre's efforts to educate and rehabilitate prisoners, Reddy stated the administration and management of prisons and persons detained therein are responsibilities of respective state governments. "However, to supplement the efforts of states in this regard, the MHA had circulated a Model Prison Manual to all states and union territories in May 2016, which has dedicated chapters on rehabilitation and education of prison inmates such as 'education of prisoners', 'vocational training and skill development programmes', 'welfare of prisoners', 'after-care and rehabilitation' etc," the minister said.