A disproportionate number of India’s minorities such as Muslims, tribal people and socially poor Dalits formerly known as ‘untouchables’ are imprisoned or sentenced to death. This is a central finding of research carried out by the National Dalit Movement for Justice, the Centre for Dalit Rights and the Social Awareness Society for Youths (SASY). A report on the investigation is to be presented to a session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) in the first week of July.
The study quoted federal government data showing that by the end of 2015, India had 282,076 people incarcerated in various jails awaiting trial. Of that number, at least 21 percent were Dalits, officially called ‘Scheduled Caste’, and 12 percent were tribal people, the report said. Tribal people comprise only 8.2 percent of India’s population of 1.2 billion and Dalits make up 16 percent, according to the 2011 census.
That represents an over-representation of 33.33 percent for Dalits in relation to the number behind bars pending trial and and over-representation for tribal people in this situation of 51.22 percent.