Contrary to the theory that caste lines get blurred in cities, the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) latest data on atrocities against Dalits shows that urban areas tend to reflect the pattern in their surrounding rural belts. So, while Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have always recorded the maximum crimes against Dalits, the NCRB data on caste-based atrocities in 19 metropolitan cities in 2016 — released for the first time — shows that Lucknow and Patna too top the list.
According to the NCRB, Uttar Pradesh reported 10,426 cases of crimes against Dalits in 2016, accounting for 26 per cent of the total cases across the country. Bihar was second with 5,701 such incidents (14 per cent), while Rajasthan came a close third with 5,134 incidents (13 per cent).
The data on cities shows a similar pattern with almost matching shares in terms of percentage. Among the 19 metropolitan cities (with a minimum of 2 million population) taken into account, Lucknow reported the highest incidents at 262 (16 per cent of all cases in the 19 cities), Patna came second with 241 incidents (15 per cent), and Jaipur third with 219 incidents (14 per cent).
Both Patna and Jaipur recorded a higher percentage share than their respective states.
The only anomaly was Bengaluru, which reported 207 cases, or 13 per cent of all cases in the 19 cities. Comparatively, Karnataka reported 1,869 such incidents, accounting for just 4.3 per cent of all such crimes in the country.
Among the cities, Hyderabad stood at fifth spot with 139 cases (9 per cent). While Andhra Pradesh also ranked fifth among states, accounting for 6 per cent of the total cases, Telangana came ninth (4 per cent).
A total of 40,801 crimes against Dalits was reported in 2016, up from 38,670 in 2015. Among metropolitan cities, a total of 1,622 cases was reported in 2016, up from 1,464 in 2015.
While the NCRB has been gathering data on caste atrocities in metropolitan cities since 2014, this is the first time that it has released the figures. However, since the data only records cases registered by the police, it may or may not reflect the actual ground situation.
There is also no data available on the population of Dalits in cities, thus making it difficult to ascertain the proportion of caste atrocities (cases per one lakh population) in urban spaces. Sources said the higher incidents of caste atrocities in cities could also be because of greater awareness among urban Dalits about their rights, resulting in registration of more cases.