A Dalit family outside their makeshift shack in Chengalpattu in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. (Photo: SPICMA)
Muslims, Dalits and tribal people are more likely to be imprisoned in India than Hindus, according to a new report.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report also says that that these groups make up around 52 percent of inmates across the country.
“Minority groups have been subject to suppression for several years, so it is nothing new. There is prejudice among people that crime is always committed by minorities,” Father Vijay Kumar Nayak, secretary of the Indian Catholic bishops’ office for Dalits and lower classes, told UCA News.
“It is obvious that their number is more because of their illiteracy, financial crises and lack of means to engage lawyers, plus police bias to file charges against them freely without fearing a backlash.”
The priest said these minorities are poor, vulnerable and easy prey for authorities.
Muslims, Dalits and tribal people together account for 39 percent of India’s population, according to the 2011 census, Muslims make up 14.2 percent, scheduled castes 16.6 percent and scheduled tribes 8.6 percent.
According to the NCRB, at the end of year 2019, Muslims formed 16.6 percent, Dalits 21.7 percent and tribal people 13.6 percent of India’s prison population.
Muslim leader Muhammad Arif, chairman of the Center for Harmony and Peace, told UCA News that the poor are “left at the mercy of God to fend for themselves.”
“The so-called media, which claims that it is secular, is least bothered to raise its voice at national level as it is more concerned with the activities of the elite group,” said Arif, whose organization is based in Uttar Pradesh.
“There are several cases in our country where the police arrest poor people in the name of solving the problem.”
Thomas Franklin Caesar, a Supreme Court lawyer, said since people know that these minority groups will not retaliate and are helpless, it is safe to blame them for everything.
The Dalit activist said it is sad that there is no one who can speak for them in the court or defend them.