Update: This post from October 7, 2015 has been updated with the latest available data from the Ministry of Home Affairs as on December 1, 2015.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, a total of 3365 communal incidents occurred in the country from 2011 to October, 2015. This is an average of 58 incidents a month. Eight states Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan & Uttar Pradesh account for 85% of all the incidents. These states were ruled by various parties at different points in time in these 5 years and not a single party. Seven states did not report a single such incident in these five years and all of them belong the North East.
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 that result in small incidents giving way 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 2015?
According to the data available with the Home Ministry, a total of 3365 communal incidents occurred in the country from 2011 to 2015 (till Oct). This is an average of about 700 incidents an 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 such incidents in 2015 (till Oct) is 650. 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 data for the number of injured & killed is not yet available for 2015.
Of the 35 States/UTs of India, only eight (8) states contributed 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 and 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
For the sake of this analysis, the eight states that account for more than 85% of all the incidents have been divided into two groups. The first group of states are those where the BJP is currently in power (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra & Rajasthan) and the second group where a non-BJP party is in power (Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala & Uttar Pradesh).
In states where the BJP is currently in power, the trend is a mixed one. In Gujarat, the number of incidents has been continuously increasing till 2014, while there is a decline in 2015. The BJP has ruled the state in all these 5 years. In Madhya Pradesh where the BJP has ruled all these five years, the number of incidents decreased significantly in 2014 only to increase in 2015. In Maharashtra, the number of incidents has more or less remained constant with over 80 such incidents every year. In Rajasthan, the number of incidents increased in 2013 & 2014, only to come down in 2015.
In the other four of these eight states where the Congress & others are in power, the trend is again mixed. In Bihar, the number of incidents was in the 20s after which it suddenly tripled in 2013. The number of incidents in Bihar was about 60 in each of the three years from 2013 to 2015. In Kerala, the number of incidents almost doubled in 2012 compared to 2011. Since then, there has been a gradual decrease in the number of incidents. In 2014, there were just 4 such incidents and in 2015, there is just 1 such incident reported in Kerala. In Karnataka, the number of incidents is more or less close to 70 in each of these years. Uttar Pradesh seems to be the communal tinder box of the country. The number of incidents in Uttar Pradesh increased from 84 in 2011 to 247 in 2013. There was a substantial decrease in the number of incidents in 2014 (133 incidents). In 2015, the number of incidents stood at 139.
What about the other states?
Among the other states, only Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Telangana & West Bengal reported incidents in double digit in one or all of these five years. The newest state of Telangana reported 10 such incidents in 2015. Seven states did not report a single communal incident in these five years. These states include Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim & Tripura. All 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.
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