Updated: September 16, 2021 10:34:24 am
While 2020 — a year marked by months of a national lockdown due to the pandemic — saw fewer “traditional crimes” such as those committed against women and children, among others, it witnessed a big spike in civil conflicts.
According to the latest data on ‘Crime in India’ released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), communal riots registered an increase of 96% in 2020 over the previous year. Similarly, caste riots saw an increase of close to 50%, agrarian riots 38% and riots during ‘andolan/morcha’ increased by 33%.
The report says that due to the complete lockdown from March 25 and May 31 last year, the number of cases registered for crimes against women, children and senior citizens, theft, burglary, robbery and dacoity, among others, dropped by about 2 lakh. Murder registered a marginal increase of 1% even as offences falling under the category of “violent crimes” decreased by 0.5%.
The year also saw a significant drop in cases related to ‘Offences against the State’, with a drop of 27% over 2019. UP, however, was the only major state to record an increase in this category, mostly due to the large number of ‘Damage to Public Property’ cases registered by the state, many of them during the anti- CAA protests.
‘Offences against the State’ include cases related to sedition and waging war against the nation, those falling under provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Official Secrets Act and Damage to Public Property Act.
According to the NCRB data, 2020 saw 857 cases of communal riots being registered across the country as compared to 438 in 2019. Most of the 2020 cases are attributed to the Northeast Delhi riots of February last year. Delhi Police alone registered 520 cases of communal riots in the year.
Bihar is at second spot with 117 cases, Haryana and Jharkhand 51 each, followed by Maharashtra (26) and Gujarat (23). Uttar Pradesh did not record a single case of communal violence in 2020, according to the data.
Cases of caste conflict increased from 492 in 2019 to 736 in 2020. Bihar recorded the highest number in this category at 208, followed by Maharashtra (125), UP (116), Karnataka (95) and Tamil Nadu (69).
NCRB data reflects the number of cases registered by police and hence, the data often hinges on the responsiveness of the police personnel on the ground.
The year, that saw unprecedented protests against the three farm laws passed by the Centre, recorded 2,188 agrarian riots, a jump from 1,579 in 2019.
Interestingly, Punjab reported zero cases of agrarian riots and Haryana 34. The highest number of cases have been reported from Bihar (1,286), followed by Maharashtra (279), Karnataka (148), UP (142) and Jharkhand (83).
In cases of rioting during ‘andolan/morcha’, it is Kerala that has recorded the highest number of cases at 1,798, accounting for almost 95% of all such cases in 2020.
The year saw the number of attacks on police personnel decrease from 1,054 to 616 in 2020, a drop of almost 40%.
In 2020, 1,804 cases of ‘Promoting Enmity Between Groups’ were registered across the country as compared to just 1,058 in 2019. The highest number of such cases were reported from Tamil Nadu (303) followed by UP (243), Telangana (151) and Assam (147).
In the category of ‘Offences Against the State’, 2020 saw 2,000 fewer cases being registered as compared to 2019, which recorded 7,656 cases. Out of 5,613 cases registered this year, 80.6% of cases were registered under The Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act (4,524 cases) — suggesting state crackdown on violent protests — followed by 796 (14.2%) cases under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
UAPA cases, in fact, registered a decrease of 35% in 2020 over 2019. The highest number of UAPA cases were registered in J&K (287), followed by Manipur (169), Jharkhand (86), Assam (76) and UP (72). UP was the only state in the top five with no ongoing insurgency to record such high numbers.
UP is also the only major state to have recorded an increase in the number of cases under ‘Offences Against the State’. Total number of cases under the category recorded in the state increased from 2,107 in 2019 to 2,217 to 2020. All other big states, the data show, have registered a decrease in the number of cases in the category.
UP’s high numbers are attributable to the very high number of Damage to Public Property Act cases registered by the state. At 2,126, the state accounts for almost 50% of all such cases registered across the country — over 95% of cases in UP under the category of Offences Against the State pertain to Damage to Public Property.
This, when all-India cases of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act decreased from 6,170 in 2019 to 4,524 in 2020.
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