In the last two decades,the number of cases of rioting registered countrywide has fallen 28 per cent from 1.04 lakh in 1992 to 74,633 in 2012. In the same period,however,Maharashtras count has jumped 58.72 per cent from 5,582 to 8,860,an analysis of the National Crime Records Bureaus figures through that period shows.
Out of the countrywide total,Maharashtras share has risen from 5.32 per cent to 11.87 per cent. Its population as per the 2011 census is 9.28 per cent of Indias,and it has the countrys largest police force with a strength of 1.85 lakh.
In the early 1990s,Rajasthan,UP and Bihar consistently accounted for over 40 per cent of the total,but they have brought their numbers down. Rajasthan,in particular,has come down from a high percentage of a high total to a low share in a low total. In 1992,its 18,424 cases accounted to 17.58 per cent of the 1.04 lakh countrywide,and in 1998,its share rose to 23.66 per cent (21,379 of 90,329). In 2012,it shows a mere 0.76 per cent (573 of 74,633) . Bihar continues to account for a high proportion (14 per cent) but its total is down from 15,067 to 10,938 in 20 years,while UPs share has fallen from 10 per cent to under 8 per cent.
Cases of rioting are generally filed when more than five people are involved in disrupting peace. Many of these incidents are of communal nature. In Maharashtra,clashes between locals and people who have migrated from other states are believed to have contributed largely to the high count of cases. Between 1991 and 2001,the state saw a fourfold increase in the number of such migrants,from 8.7 lakh to 32 lakh as per census figures.
In the last two decades,there has been a new front of confrontation between migrants and local people. The liberalisation of the economy has also led to confrontation over land acquisition,which could be a reason for the increase in cases, says Abdul Shaban,associate professor at the Centre for Development Studies,Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Retired and serving police officers cite different reasons for the trend. There is an increasing attempt by politicians to control the functioning of the police force, retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro says. This meddling has created a degree of dissatisfaction among administrative officers. This is one of the reasons why rioting has not been put down effectively.
Many also point at the undermining of the polices authority by politicians. Maharashtra recently witnessed a tussle between the home ministry and the police administration over who should have the powers to transfer and promoting sub-inspectors and inspectors.
State DGP Sanjeev Dayal says,The last few years have seen a lot of agitations against migrants by some parties. The spike in the number of cases is also because the police are prompt in registering complaints. A senior official adds,It could also be that other states with high incidence of rioting have been under-reporting their cases.