According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, a total of 2715 communal incidents occurred in the country from 2011 to 2014. This is an average of 57 incidents a month. Eight states Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh account for close to 85% of all the incidents. These states were ruled by various different parties and not a single party. Eight states did not report a single such incident in these four years. Seven of the Eight North Eastern states did not report a single communal incident.
The issue of communalism has attracted the center stage in Indian Politics for quite some time now. Fringe groups of all hues make statements to incite people and the result being small incidents lead to large communal disturbances. Data about communal incidents in the country provides very interesting insights into the spread of these incidents and the states where they mostly happen.
How many incidents from 2011 to 2014?
According to the data available with the Home Ministry, a total of 2715 communal incidents occurred in the country from 2011 to 2014. About 680 incidents occurred on an average per year. The lowest number of incidents occurred in 2011 (580) and the highest in 2013 (823). The number of such incidents in 2012 and 2014 are 668 & 644 respectively. The number of people killed in these incidents was more or less proportional to the number of incidents with the highest number of people getting killed in 2013 and the lowest in 2011. The same is true for the number of people injured. The increase in the number of incidents in 2013 could be attributed to the unusual rise in the number of such incidents in Bihar & Uttar Pradesh. While the number of incidents in Bihar tripled in 2013, it rose by more than twice in Uttar Pradesh in 2013 compared to 2012. Does this rise have anything to do with the end of the BJP- JD(U) alliance in Bihar is something that needs a deeper investigation. Uttar Pradesh contributed for 30% of the communal incidents in 2013, which is very high for a single state. This unusual rise just before the 2014 general election could be because of the communal politics of various political parties.
The Eight States are evenly spread across the country
Of the 35 States/UTs of India, only eight (8) states accounted for close to 85% of all the communal incidents in the country. Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan & Uttar Pradesh are part of this group. It is also interesting to note that these states are from all the regions of country. Karnataka & Kerala are from the South, Gujarat & Maharashtra are from the West, Rajasthan & Uttar Pradesh from the North, Bihar from the East & Madhya Pradesh from Central India. What is interesting is that, these eight states were ruled by different parties during this period. The Congress, BJP, NCP, SP, BSP ruled these states at various points in time.
The trend within these states
The trend within these states is vastly different. In Bihar, the number of incidents was in the 20s after which it suddenly tripled in 2013. Even in 2014, this number stood at 61. In Gujarat, the number of incidents has been continuously increasing. This increasing trend was observed from 2011 to 2014. In Kerala, the number of incidents almost doubled in 2012 compared to 2011. Since then, there has been a gradual reduction in the number of incidents. In 2014, there were just 4 such incidents in Kerala. In Rajasthan, the number of incidents came down on 2012, but, has been on the rise since then.
In Karnataka, the number of incidents more or less was close to 70 in each of these years. In Madhya Pradesh, the number of incidents increased in 2012, but, has decreased since then. In Maharashtra, the number of incidents has increased in alternate years (2012 & 2014). In Uttar Pradesh, the number of incidents more than doubled in 2013 compared to 2012, but, came down substantially in 2014.
What about the other states?
Among the other states, only Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal reported incidents in double digit in one or all of these four years. Eight of the states did not report a single communal incident in these four years. These states include Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim & Tripura. 7 of these states are from the North East.
What are the Governments Doing?
Law & Order (including Police) is a state subject. Hence the responsibility of dealing with communal incidents rests primarily with the respective State Governments. The Central Government assists the State Governments in a variety of ways like sharing of intelligence, sending alert messages, sending Central Armed Police Forces, including the composite Rapid Action Force created specially to deal with communal situations. The Central Government has also circulated revised Guidelines to promote communal harmony to the States and Union Territories in 2008, which laid down standing operating procedures to be put in place to deal with situation arising out of the communal violence. The activities of all organizations having a bearing on communal harmony in the country are under constant watch of the law enforcement agencies and requisite legal action is taken, wherever necessary.
* Data/Information enthusiast & passionate about governance/policy issues, working on issues related to Right to Information (RTI) for a decade. Courtesy: https://factly.in/. Source: Unstarred Question No. 2251 Answered on March 10, 2015 in the Lok Sabha, Ministry of Home Affairs.