MahatmaGandhi with leaders of the All-India Congress Party, August 1942, at a press confrence in picture (from R to L) Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sarojni Naidu, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Gandhiji, wearing a cap not known and JB Kripalani | Source-Associated Press | Click for image.
Before the end of the British Raj, the part of India that the British ruled, (roughly 60% of modern India), had about 200 prisons.
This number of 200 prisons does not include prisons in the kingdoms of more than 500 Indian kings, princes and rulers, who were allied but not a part of the British Raj.
These prisons and jails of the British Raj, my estimate is, roughly held about 100,000 prisoners. Prior to Gandhiji’s non-cooperation movement took steam, the number of political prisoners were few – and Indian political leadership was afraid of going to jail.
Gandhiji’s movement changed that.
Anna Hazare protests. If 2-3 lakh people can volunteer for imprisonment, the Indian Government will be forced to negotiate. | Image source and courtesy - tribune.com.pk
Like this extract below shows, the Congress alone created nearly 100,000 prisoners.
The British just did not have the capacity to jail any more people. This lack of capacity to jail was in itself a short term pressure on the British Raj. At a point, they had to stop arresting people, because there was no capacity.
The situation is not very different now.
India has a capacity to imprison about 2,75,000 prisoners. It already has 3,75,000 prisoners. This is the lowest per-capita prisoner-to-population ratio in the world.
If a few lakhs people were to go to jail, the Indian Government’s jail system will collapse.
Extract from: Constitutional Schemes and Political Development in India- Towards Transfer ... - | By Verinder Grover | Page 209 | Courtesy - Google Books | Accessed on 2012-03-04 21-46-54 | Click to access source page at books.google.com