With a rider that communal incidents are not a reflection of rising intolerance in the country and that there were more communal incidents in 2013 when UPA was in power, the government released figures Tuesday on such incidents. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said in the Lok Sabha that 2014 had seen 644 incidents, followed by 650 till October in 2015.
Curiously, data on “communal riots” collated by National Crime Records Bureau, which runs under the home ministry, is at great variance with the data on “communal incidents” Rijiju cited. According to NCRB, there were 1,227 “communal riots” in 2014, almost twice the 644 “incidents” that we cited by Rijiju.
Data on communal incidents are taken from states and compiled by the ministry’s human rights division. Even NCRB takes data from states and compiles centrally. NCRB’s 2014 data marks the first time the agency has compiled figures under a separate head of “communal riots”.
Rijiju attempted to distance communal incidents from the perception of intolerance. “Although it has been brought out in various forums, the prevailing communal situation in the country does not indicate existence of alleged intolerance in the country.” He said that in 2013, when the UPA was in power, there were 823 incidents.
The difference between the data is stark state by state too. According to NCRB data, UP witnessed 51 communal riots in 2014 but Rijiju’s data shows 133 communal incidents. In the NCRB data, Jharkhand is the worst state with 349 communal riots while the home ministry lists only 10 communal incidents. In Maharashtra, however, the two sets of data converge, with NCRB counting 99 to the ministry’s 97.
It was not clear why there were such vast differences. A source in NCRB said their data collection is scientific.
“It is based on FIRs filed by police in cases of rioting of communal nature. Wherever relevant sections are invoked in the FIR, such cases are compiled the agency,” said the NCRB official.
A home ministry official said their data is based on the number of incidents provided by each state. Collection of such data is done periodically throughout the year. The ministry also gets reports on communal incidents from the intelligence bureau.