//Report: India's Muslims over-represented among prison inmates

Report: India's Muslims over-represented among prison inmates

 he Associated Press

Published: October 29, 2006
NEW DELHI India's jails hold a disproportionate number of the country's minority Muslims, a sign of discrimination and alienation from the Hindu majority, according to a report published Sunday.
 
In many of India's states the number of jailed Muslims far exceeds their percentage of the population, The Sunday Express newspaper reported, citing a government report on Indian Muslims' welfare.
 
The report said that in Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, 32.4 percent of the inmates are Muslims, who make up only 10.6 percent of the general population.
 
In New Delhi, which has a Muslim population of 11.7 percent, 27.9 percent of prison residents are Muslim, while in Gujarat state Muslims comprise 25.1 percent of those jailed and 9.1 percent of the populace, according to the report.
 
Gujarat was the scene of India's bloodiest Hindu-Muslim violence in recent years, when a train fire killed 60 Hindus returning from a religious pilgrimage in 2002. Muslims were blamed for the blaze, and Hindu mobs killed more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.
 
Relations between the two groups have often been tense since India's bloody partition and the creation of Muslim-majority Pakistan following independence from Britain in 1947. The two countries have since fought three wars.
 
The statistics in the government report were supplied by the states, the newspaper said. Inmate figures include convicts and those detained for trials.
 
Government officials could not immediately be reached Sunday for comment on the report.
 
The report said a main factor behind the higher percentage of Muslim prisoners was greater poverty among their community, making them more vulnerable to the law and also more likely to turn to crime.
 
Among the urban population, 44 percent of Muslims were below the poverty line, compared to 28 percent among the rest of the population, the report said.
 
It said Muslims were also victims of discrimination and suspicion, particularly in the wake of several deadly terror attacks in India blamed on Islamic groups.
 
Hindus make up about 84 percent of India's total population of more than 1.1 billion population, while Muslims account for 13 percent and Christians 2.4 percent, according to the latest census figures.
 
 
NEW DELHI India's jails hold a disproportionate number of the country's minority Muslims, a sign of discrimination and alienation from the Hindu majority, according to a report published Sunday.
 
In many of India's states the number of jailed Muslims far exceeds their percentage of the population, The Sunday Express newspaper reported, citing a government report on Indian Muslims' welfare.
 
The report said that in Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, 32.4 percent of the inmates are Muslims, who make up only 10.6 percent of the general population.
 
In New Delhi, which has a Muslim population of 11.7 percent, 27.9 percent of prison residents are Muslim, while in Gujarat state Muslims comprise 25.1 percent of those jailed and 9.1 percent of the populace, according to the report.
 
Gujarat was the scene of India's bloodiest Hindu-Muslim violence in recent years, when a train fire killed 60 Hindus returning from a religious pilgrimage in 2002. Muslims were blamed for the blaze, and Hindu mobs killed more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.
 
Relations between the two groups have often been tense since India's bloody partition and the creation of Muslim-majority Pakistan following independence from Britain in 1947. The two countries have since fought three wars.
 
The statistics in the government report were supplied by the states, the newspaper said. Inmate figures include convicts and those detained for trials.
 
Government officials could not immediately be reached Sunday for comment on the report.
 
The report said a main factor behind the higher percentage of Muslim prisoners was greater poverty among their community, making them more vulnerable to the law and also more likely to turn to crime.
 
Among the urban population, 44 percent of Muslims were below the poverty line, compared to 28 percent among the rest of the population, the report said.
 
It said Muslims were also victims of discrimination and suspicion, particularly in the wake of several deadly terror attacks in India blamed on Islamic groups.
 
Hindus make up about 84 percent of India's total population of more than 1.1 billion population, while Muslims account for 13 percent and Christians 2.4 percent, according to the latest census figures.