The data on communal incidents by the National Crime Records Bureau seems to have opened a Pandora’s Box, yet again. For 23 States, there is a difference in the number of communal incidents reported by the Home Ministry & the NCRB. The Home Ministry is still clueless about this data discrepancy.
Factly had earlier reported that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data on Communal Incidents was not matching with the data provided by the Home Ministry for the year 2014. The same has now repeated again in 2015 with the NCRB reporting 789 incidents of communal riots compared to the 751 reported by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The media had earlier reported that the Home Ministry was probing to understand the discrepancy between the NCRB data and its own data.
MHA still clueless
Factly filed a RTI application with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) seeking information on the probe initiated by the MHA in this regard. To our surprise, we found that the MHA was still as clueless as it was before. In response to the RTI application, the MHA said that the NCRB shows different figures since there could be multiple FIRs in a single incident. Going by this explanation, the number reported by NCRB should always be greater than the number reported by the MHA. But as we reported earlier, this is not the case.
NCRB Data Collection on Riots
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is an attached office in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). NCRB is tasked with collection and dissemination of a secure national database on crimes, criminals and law enforcement agencies etc. Every year, the NCRB collects data from Police departments at the state level and compiles it into a Crime in India report. The report has detailed information on various types of crimes.
In 2014, the NCRB has made significant changes to the method of its collection and dissemination of crime data. In its new template for collection of crime related data, there is a section on riots as defined under Sections 147,148,149,150 & 151 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
There is a separate section to collect data on offences that promote enmity between different groups as defined under Sections 153A & 153B of the IPC.
Before 2014, all the data related to riots used to be collected under one head called riots. From 2014, the data on riots is categorized into many different sub heads namely communal riots, Industrial riots and riots for political reasons etc.
One has to remember that NCRB gets all the data from state police departments. And this data is strictly based on the sections mentioned in the First Information Report (FIR) of the cases filed. The NCRB also follows ‘Principal Offence Rule’ for counting of crime. Hence among many offences registered in a single case, only most heinous crime will be considered as counting unit, thereby representing one case. Sometimes it is also possible that multiple cases will be filed for a single incident.
NCRB puts Haryana on the Top
The NCRB data on riots has a sub categorization of communal riots. As per the NCRB data, a total of 789 communal riot incidents took place in the country in 2015 and 1174 people were victims of these incidents. Leading the list is Haryana with 201 such cases followed by Karnataka with 163 cases. Maharashtra is third with 80 such cases in 2015.
This data is directly in contradiction with the MHA data. Uttar Pradesh tops the list in the MHA data with 155 incidents followed by Maharashtra & Karnataka each with 105 such incidents. As per the MHA data, Haryana had only 3 such incidents in 2015. The number of victims (killed or injured) as per MHA is 2361 while the number of victims as per NCRB is 1174.
Huge difference between NCRB & MHA Data
There is a difference in the numbers put out by NCRB & MHA for as many as 23 States. The data matches only for 6 states and in five of these States; both NCRB & MHA reported ‘zero’ incidents. There is a double digit difference in 10 states and the difference is quite stark for the following 10 states. For Haryana, the MHA reported only 3 incidents while NCRB reported 201 incidents. At the other end of the spectrum is Uttar Pradesh. While MHA reported 155 incidents in UP, the NCRB reported only 48 incidents. In Telangana, the MHA reported 11 cases while the NCRB did not report a single incident.
MHA’s explanation is not Plausible
As per the MHA’s explanation, since the NCRB numbers are based on FIRs registered in Police Stations, they should be on the higher side, assuming that a single incident might lead to multiple cases. And this trend should be uniform across states. But as analysed earlier, this is not the case. The only plausible reason for such discrepancy is the shoddy work of state police and the intelligence departments. But why would they goof up with such data is a million dollar question. This also raises some uncomfortable questions about the sanctity of government data.