Nitin Yeshwantrao, TNN Jun 3, 2012, 01.22AM IST

THANE: The tilt towards crime and delinquency is strongly linked to the high percentage of illiteracy among Muslims, states a research study on Muslim prisoners conducted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in 2009.

The report based on interviews with 3,086 Muslim inmates across 15 jails in Maharashtra, reveals that 31% of the undertrials and convicts could not read or write, while another 61% could barely understand the written word having studied only up to Class IV.

Only a small number of inmates from the minority community had completed their higher secondary education, while few had gone to college or completed their postgraduate degree, states the report by Dr Vijay Raghavan and Roshni Nair from the Centre for Criminology and Justice of TISS.

“If we add the percentage of illiterates to those educated up to the primary level. Only 0.6% had completed their graduation while the number of postgraduates was a marginal four,” the 117-page survey report states.

The study was complied after sessions with offenders, prison authorities, kin of the prisoner and representatives of voluntary groups working with inmates.

Poverty and lack of education among Muslims have surfaced as the key reasons for them taking to crime, the report suggested. The highest number of illiterate inmates was found in Mumbai and Thane.

Of the total 614 undertrials and convicts in Thane jail, 176 were had never been to school while 378 had barely attended primary school. Of the 709 inmates in Mumbai jails, 225 were uneducated and another 475 had studied only up to Class IV.

A majority of the inmates interviewed by the team admitted that lack of education was the main reason for their deprivation.

The report suggests that close to 48% of the Muslim prisoners had no vocational training which in turn resulted in unemployment. “Barely 38% of the inmates from 15 jails in Maharashtra have acquired technical skills. However, they built proficiency through on-job training,” the report states qualifying the Sachar Committee report findings, which said that only two among every 1,000 Muslims is a technical graduate. The lack of education has manifested in crime for most youngsters, the plight of Moiz, interviewed by the research panel, is a case in point.

“Moiz wanted to study Hindi, however, his family wanted him to master Urdu and become a maulvi. He ran away from home and lived on pavements in New Delhi and used to beg for a living,” a state official said.

“Soon, Moiz became embroiled in illegal activities and after his arrest he was sent to an observation home. He came in contact with a group of chain-snatchers and gradually took to crime,” he added.