Muzaffarnagar riots: Dear Shinde, your communal violence data doesn't add up

Sushil Kumar Shinde’s numbers aren’t the same as his Ministry’s numbers, and his Ministry has published different numbers in the same report.

Praveen Swami September 09, 2013 08:24:38 IST
Muzaffarnagar riots: Dear Shinde, your communal violence data doesn't add up

Yesterday, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, told journalists communal tensions were rising in the country. “While 410 incidents occurred in the country last year, this year, ’till now, 451 incidents have taken place”, he said.

This year’s Ministry of Home Affairs annual report, though, says that “during the year 2012 (till 31st December), 668 communal incidents took place in the country in which 94 persons lost their lives and 3,117 persons were injured. During the corresponding period in 2011, there were 580 communal incidents in the country, in which 91 persons were killed and 1,899 persons were injured” [p. 69-70].

Muzaffarnagar riots Dear Shinde your communal violence data doesnt add up

Sushil Kumar Shinde

Exactly the same annual report also says “the communal violence which flared up on 19.07.2012 in Kokrajhar (Assam) later spread to Chirang and Dhubri Districts in which 99 lives were lost and more than 4.85 lakh people were displaced. They were accommodated in various relief camps. In November, 2012, fresh incidents of violence took place in Kokrajhar District in Assam resulting in deaths of 10 persons” [p.5].

That’s 10+99=109, in Assam alone. But wait, the guy who wrote p.69-70 said there were 94 fatalities in the whole country. And is it 410 incidents last year, as Shinde said, or 668, as the report states?

Figure it our for yourself: three officials at the MHA who Firstpost contacted for an explanation didn’t have one.

How is the MHA  going to deal with India’s communal problem when it doesn’t know how many incidents of violence there were and how many people were killed and injured?

From past years’ annual reports, the South Asia Terrorism Portal has put together a snapshot of communal violence in India since 2003, when the United Progressive Alliance government took power. It arguably suggests there’s a small correlation between rises in violence and election years. It doesn’t make a great case, though, for claims there’s some kind of rising trend in violence: though injuries rose sharply in 2012, incidents and fatalities didn’t.

Muzaffarnagar riots Dear Shinde your communal violence data doesnt add up

Incidents of communal violence under UPA

The things is, we have no idea whether these numbers have any bearing on reality—which is a pity, because this is too serious an issue to be treated casually.

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