As many as 165 people were arrested on the charge of sedition in the last three years across the country, which averages to one arrest every week. In all, 105 cases were registered.The figures, compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau, were given by Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
According to the records, 111 people were arrested in four states — 68 in Bihar, 18 in Jharkhand, 15 in Haryana and 10 in Punjab — of which Jharkhand and Haryana are BJP-ruled.
The maximum 68 arrests were recorded in Bihar, ruled by the Grand Alliance of RJD, JD(U) and Congress. Most of these were made in the 2014 and 2015. Only two of the 53 persons chargesheeted during this period were convicted.
Delhi Police, under the BJP-led central government, made four sedition arrests in 2016.
Six arrests were made in Left-ruled Kerala, and one each in Congress-ruled Karnataka and TDP- ruled Andhra Pradesh.
Section 124 A of the IPC says whoever by words, written or spoken, or by signs or visible representation brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt or excites disaffection towards the government shall be punishable with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment which may extend to three years.
In the last three years, Jharkhand has arrested 18 people for sedition, while 15 were held in Haryana. Incidentally, there were no arrests under sedition charge in Jharkhand in 2015 and 2016 when the BJP has been in power.
In contrast, all the 15 arrests in Haryana were made in 2015 and 2016 under the BJP regime. Officials said sedition cases were registered against Jat Sangharsh Samiti chief and others for allegedly threatening peace and communal harmony by instigating people to launch a fresh agitation for reservation.
The number of sedition cases, it turns out, is low in some states hit by militancy. For instance, in Jammu and Kashmir, only one case was registered in 2015 and none in 2014 and 2016.
“Fifty-eight people were arrested in 47 cases registered in 2014. The number increased to 73 in 2015 with as many as 30 cases being registered. Only 34 people were arrested in 28 cases in 2016 under the offence of Sedition (Section 124A of IPC),” MoS Home Hansraj Ahir said.
The 2016 figure excludes Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal as data from the two states were not available.