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    » 03/21/2014, 00.00

    INDIA

    Discrimination in India: Christians are 6 per cent of the prison population

    Nirmala Carvalho

    According to the 2012 report on Prison Statistics in India by the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB), the percentage of Dalit, tribal, Muslim and Christian inmates is higher than the national average. For Christian activist, "states are targeting minorities."

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The high number of prison inmates from socio-religious minorities "is due to the attitude of some states, which target the most vulnerable sections of society," said Arun Ferreira, an activist for Christian Dalits and tribals, who spoke to AsiaNews following the release of the 2012 Prison Statistics report by the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB).

    According to the report, Muslims, who are 13.4 per cent of India's population, represented 28.02 per cent of the prison population in 2012. Christians are in the same situation. Nationally, they are 2.3 per cent of the population but they constitute 6 per cent of the prison population.

    For the activist, "We get these percentages because Dalits, Tribals, Muslims and Christians are often the victims of loopholes and sections of the Indian Penal Code.

    Ferreira should know. He personally experience what it means to be behind bars. Accused of being a Naxalite (Maoist) guerrilla, he was arrested in May 2007 in Nagpur (Maharashtra) and indicted on 11 charges, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

    During his detention, he was tortured and interrogated twice after being treated with a "truth serum," a psychoactive drug that is now illegal. After four years and eight months in jail, he was released on bail.

    "My experience in prison is that every state tends to target minorities, showing some of its specific features," Ferreira told AsiaNews.

    "In states where Hinduism is strong, like Orissa (where the effects of anti-Christian pogroms still linger), many innocent Christians have been arrested and thrown in prison, falsely accused of being Naxalites. However, the same thing happened in Gujarat after the 2002 riots."

    "In Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, which are also under strong Hindu influence, the authorities have overtly attacked the Christian community, treating its members as the 'criminal' element in the Dalit and Tribal groups."

    All too often, Christians fall into the clutches of the justice system on false evidence because they back causes that embarrass the authorities.

    "In Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, some tribal Christians were arrested on false accusations of terrorism," Ferreira noted, "when in fact the problem was their struggle against large-scale mining projects that required huge tracts of land to be expropriated."

    The same is true for Tamil Nadu, where Christians have been charged with 'subversion' for opposing the construction of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

    "Sadly, neither the government nor the NCRB recognise political prisoners as a separate category, so there are no statistics about it."

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    See also

    15/03/2010 INDIA
    Delhi: demonstration against Dalit ‘Via Crucis’ ready to go
    More than 10,000 Christian and Muslim ‘untouchables gather in the capital to ask the government to improve their condition. Mgr Neethinathan, bishop of Chinglepet, tells AsiaNews that discrimination makes no sense, that the economy cannot developed with such injustices.

    05/08/2005 INDIA
    India: government is drawing up a report on conditions facing the country's Muslims

    Catholic activists appreciate the move but say the same should be done for the Christian community, especially the dalits.



    27/10/2010 INDIA
    Discrimination against Dalits in India a "sin" and "shame"
    This is what the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) confirmed during the national ecumenical conference on justice for the Dalits (22-25 October 2010). The common commitment of Catholics and Protestants to break down the caste system.

    28/10/2008 NEPAL
    Minorities accuse Nepalese government of favoring Hinduism
    With the beginning of the feast of Tihar, ethnic minorities in the country are raising their voices against the Maoist government of Prachanda. They are criticizing the favorable treatment shown toward Hindus, accusing: "In Nepal, secularism is only a declaration of intent."

    20/10/2004 INDIA
    A Hindu al-Qaeda, religious fundamentalism as a political tool

    We want the government to condemn fanatical organisations and provide minorities much needed legal protection, Catholic leader John Dayal says.





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