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Highest number of foreigners imprisoned in West Bengal

NCRB’s Prison Statistics India 2018 shows 44.8% of all foreign prisoners in India lodged in State’s jails

The National Crime Records Bureau’s Prison Statistics India (PSI) 2018 shows that the highest number of foreign convicts and undertrials held in Indian jails were lodged in West Bengal, with Maharashtra and Delhi following.

Of the 5,168 foreign inmates lodged in various prisons across the country as on December 31, 2018, as many as 2,316 (44.8%) were imprisoned in West Bengal, 587 (11.4%) were held in Maharashtra and 416 (8%) were inmates in Delhi’s jails. While 4,381 prisoners of foreign nationality were males, 787 were females.

“Among these foreign national prisoners, 40.8% (2,108 inmates) were convicts, 50.5% (2,611 inmates) were undertrials and 0.8% (43 inmates) were detenues,” the NCRB said in its report. “However, there were 406 other foreign national inmates lodged in various jails accounting for 7.9% of total foreign national prisoners at the end of 2018,” according to the PSI.

The number of foreigners lodged in West Bengal’s jails after being convicted stood at 1,379, which is 65.4% of all foreign convicts, followed by Uttar Pradesh (130, 6.2%) and Delhi (97, 4.6%).

West Bengal also reported the highest number of foreign undertrials (576, 22.06%), followed by Maharashtra (508, 19.45%) and Delhi (306, 11.7%).

State Minister of Prisons Ujjwal Biswas said that the number of foreign inmates was higher because of West Bengal’s border with Bangladesh. “This is because of the lacunae in guarding the border [by personnel] deployed by the central government that we have high number of foreign inmates in our prisons,” asserted Mr. Biswas. West Bengal shares a 2,216 km border with Bangladesh and those caught illegally entering the country are usually booked under The Foreigners Act, and can be imprisioned for several years.

Asked whether the number of foreign inmates put a burden on resources allocated to prisoners in the State, the Minister asserted that there was an overall decline in the number of prisoners at the State’s correctional facilities and that the situation was improving.

Interestingly, the figures from West Bengal were for the year 2017, with the NCRB pointing out that “due to non-receipt of data from West Bengal for 2018, data furnished for 2017” had been used.

Highest number from Bangladesh

Of the 2,108 foreign convicts lodged in the country’s prisons, the highest number were from Bangladesh. Bangladeshi nationals comprised 68.8% or 1,451 convicts, followed by Nepal (10.6%, 224 convicts) and Pakistan (6.3%,133 convicts).

Among the foreign undertrials too, the highest number were from Bangladesh (40%, 1,044) followed by Nigeria (18.7%, 489) and Nepal (17.6%, 459).

Drop in foreign inmates

The PSI 2018 also reveals a decline in the number of foreign inmates since 2013. “The number of foreigner inmates in the prisons has decreased by 27.9% during 2013-2018 (status as on 31st December of respective years),” the NCRB states. While the number of foreign convicts decreased by 10.4% and that of undertrials shrank by 40%, the number of detenues increased by 4.9%.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 2:23:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/highest-number-of-foreigners-imprisoned-in-west-bengal/article30609214.ece

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