Maharashtra and UP may be widely perceived as the most communally sensitive, but government data would have you believe that communal violence is more routine in Jharkhand, Haryana and Tamil Nadu.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2014, with 349 incidents of communal violence, Jharkhand recorded the maximum number of such incidents last year. It was followed by Haryana with 207 incidents, and Tamil Nadu with 120 incidents.
Interestingly, UP recorded only 51 incidents of communal violence in the entire year, while Maharashtra only saw 99. This is the first time that the NCRB has collected data on communal violence. However, a thorough examination of the data showed why UP and Maharashtra continued to be a major cause of concern due of communal strife.
While in Jharkhand 349 people died or got injured in as many incidents, in UP the number of victims was over seven times the number of incidents.
In Haryana, the number of victims (207) was same as number of incidents. The picture was almost similar in Tamil Nadu, where 121 people got injured or died in 120 incidents. But in UP’s 51 incidents as many as 356 people got injured or lost their lives.
Similarly, data for Maharashtra showed that 99 incidents led to injury or death of 355 people. While there were 125 victims in Bihar’s 59 incidents, Gujarat’s 57 communal flare-ups had 107 victims.
Explaining the data, NCRB and police sources said small number of incidents leading to injury or death of large number of victims showed that crowd, perhaps mobilised, engaged in rampant violence.
Sourced added that proportional numbers (of incidents and victims) showed that the incidents were not of serious nature and either individuals or very small groups were involved. This analysis was also corroborated by data on cases of promoting enmity between groups on the grounds of religion and identity. Such cases are registered when someone is found inciting a mob.