FOR THE second year running, the annual report published by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on accidental deaths and suicides does not include data compiled under caste and religion. And, once again, the report was released before elections in a state where caste equations were crucial.
In 2014, the NCRB had, for the first time, collated data on suicides based on religion and caste groups. While the report was released in July 2015, before the Bihar assembly elections in October-November that year, caste and religion-based data of suicides was withheld.
This data, which was obtained by The Indian Express under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and published on June 6, 2016, showed that a Christian was 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide as compared to a Hindu while tribals and Dalits had the highest suicide rates among caste groups.
This time, the NCRB was expected to publish the caste and religion-based data for 2015 in its 2016 report. But the data is missing from the report released in December 2016, less then two months before elections were announced in caste-sensitive UP.
Asked why the data has not been published for two consecutive years, NCRB D-G Ish Kumar said, “Various forms for crime in India were revised in 2013-14 by a committee. As I have joined recently, I need to verify what all information is being collected and published or left out.”
Kumar said, “We will also hold meetings with various stakeholders, including researchers, policy makers and the Ministry of Home Affairs, to find if any more information is required to be collected.”
Home Ministry sources said the NCRB has become “sensitive” about the data it publishes after its first detailed cause-wise data on farmer suicides released in 2015, while the the Parliament was in session sparked a furore.
The NCRB data for 2014 on caste and religion of suicide victims published by The Indian Express showed:
# Christians have the highest suicide rate at 17.4, compared to Hindus at 11.3 — the national average was 10.6. Muslims and Sikhs, at 7 per cent and 4.1, respectively, recorded the lowest rates. In this context, rate refers to the number of suicides per population of one lakh.
# Among caste groups, Scheduled Tribes had the highest suicide rate at 10.4 followed by Dalits at 9.4. Although the “general” category had a higher rate (13.6), it included suicides by those from of all other religions as well.
# Christians comprised 2.3 per cent of India’s population (2011 Census), but their share in suicides was 3.7 per cent.
# Hindus had a greater share among suicides (83 per cent) than their representation in population (79.8 per cent).
# Percentage of suicides among Muslims was much lower (9.2) compared to their share in population (14.2 per cent).
# While the rate of suicides among SCs and STs hovered around 10, that of other backward castes (OBC) stood at 9.2 per cent.