The number of people in prisons has seen an increase in India since the year 2002, with about 466,084 detainees in total. Women constitute about 4.1% of those detained and are held in general prisons and a small fraction in segregated women’s only jails. Most prisons are overcrowded and regularly exceed their capacity.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, the state of Chhattisgarh accounts for the most densely packed prisons for women inmates with an occupancy rate of 66.4% in excess of capacity followed by Uttarakhand exceeding the capacity by 55.3%. This in the regular jails. With respect to women-only jails, the state of West Bengal exceeds capacity with an occupancy rate of 142.04% followed by Maharashtra with an average occupancy rate of 119.85%. The third spot is captured by Bihar with a 115.13 percent average occupancy rate.
Any attempt to document women political prisoners will always have glaring lapses. There are just too many dispersed in this vast country with a diverse political landscape and axes of oppression. There are many whose existence is not known. How does one exist without a name, or in some cases, an entry in a log-book, publicly available? Since 2018, the government of India has stopped publishing the National Crime Records Bureau data. Here, we have tried to highlight the names of a few nameless and faceless women political prisoners in West Bengal from the original Bengali publication in the outlet: Bandi Sanhati (“Prisoners’ Solidarity”).
Read the profiles here or download the file below.