Patna: The Bihar unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has uploaded a video on its Facebook page, as part of its digital campaigning efforts ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections, claiming that the law and order situation in Bihar has improved drastically during the National Democratic Alliance’s regime.
The video claims that not only has there been a drop in criminal activities, but communal violence too has stopped.
Compared to other states, Bihar’s crime numbers place it at the bottom of any list, the video claims. It also claims that since the NDA government took over in 2005, crimes have gone down when compared to the 15-year rule of Lalu Prasad Yadav.
In recent times, enforcement of law and order in Bihar has been questioned on the back of several murders and crimes. Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav had been vocal on this.
The claims made in the video appear distant from ground reality. In many cases, the figures have been misinterpreted.
Claim 1: Bihar’s rank in crime
In the video, it has been claimed that when it comes to overall crime figures, Bihar is currently at number 23, whereas ‘earlier’ it was at number three. The video does not say which year or time the BJP is considering as the base year but mentions that the data was obtained from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
Analysing the statistics published by NCRB, The Wire found that Bihar has not been ranked 23rd at all. Bihar is at the fourth position in overall criminal cases registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). If the criminal cases registered under the IPC and the local laws of the state are combined, Bihar is at the seventh position.
NCRB has made data public till 2018. The figures for the year 2019 is yet to come. NCRB data for 2018 show that 1,96,911 (6.3% of national) criminal cases were registered in Bihar under the IPC. Only Madhya Pradesh (2,48,354), Maharashtra (3,46,291) and Uttar Pradesh (3,42,355) have more criminal cases than Bihar.
At the same time, if criminal cases filed under IPC and local laws of the state are combined together, then a total of 2,62,815 cases were registered in Bihar. Only Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh are ahead of Bihar.
Claim 2: Only 222 people in a lakh are victims of crime
In the video, BJP has claimed that only 222 people among each lakh in Bihar are victims of crime, while at the national level the figure stands at 383 people.
This claim by the BJP is correct if one looks at the NCRB figures, but it cannot be considered as an achievement by any means. Bihar is the most populous state in the country and the number of crime victims per one lakh people is calculated on the basis of population.
An official at the NCRB told The Wire, “We used the data of the National Commission on Population’s technical group, which falls under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The technical group had estimated Bihar’s population at 11.83 crore. We used this figure to calculate crime victims per lakh population.”
Since Bihar has a large population, even if the crime rate is high, the number of crime victims per lakh population will be a relatively low estimate.
The case of Uttar Pradesh can be taken as an example of this. In 2018, a total of 5,85,157 criminal cases were registered in the state under IPC and state local laws, which is more than in any state in the country. Uttar Pradesh’s share is 11.5% of the total crimes recorded in India, but since the state has a large population (estimated at 22 crores 30 lakhs), only 262 people per one lakh population are estimated to have been victims of crime.
Rajasthan registered 2,50,546 criminal cases (about 10,000 less than Bihar) in 2018, but due to low population (7 crores 65 lakhs), 327 people fell victim per one lakh people. The number is notably higher than Bihar.
Claim 3: 34% reduction in criminal incidents
BJP said in the campaign video that there has been a 34% reduction in criminal incidents in Bihar since the NDA government came to power.
The NDA government in Bihar was formed in 2005. The state-wise crime figures for 2004 and earlier years were not available on the NCRB website, but data from the State Crime Record Bureau show that Bihar has seen an increase in criminal cases year after year.
During Lalu Prasad Yadav’s time, BJP and Janata Dal (United) had been calling the regime a ‘jungle raj’. JD(U) and BJP leaders have kept up this refrain and allege that crime had been unbridled at that time.
However, data from the years 2001 to 2019 available on the website of the State Crime Records Bureau show that criminal incidents have increased every year. A total of 95,942 cognisable offences were registered in Bihar in the year 2001, which increased to 1,15,216 in the year 2004.
However in the year 2005, it decreased by about 10,000.
A total of 2,69,095 cognisable offences were registered in Bihar in the year 2019, which was 1,53,880 more than the year 2004.
Recently, in response to a question, DGP Gupteshwar Pandey attributed this to the fact that earlier fewer FIRs were lodged. “Now all the police stations are instructed not to ignore the complaint of any person, thanks to which more criminal incidents are being recorded in Bihar,” he said.
The statistics of the NCRB too confirm that criminal incidents have been increasing in Bihar. According to the data, a total of 1,89,696 cases were registered in Bihar under IPC and state laws in 2016, which increased to 2,62,815 in the year 2018.
Claim 4: Riots and massacres do not happen in Bihar
In the video, the BJP has claimed that there are no riots and massacres in Bihar, but NCRB data refutes this claim too. Ironically, the data shows that Bihar is at the top position when it comes to communal or religious violence.
NCRB used to publish only figures of riots earlier, but since the year 2017, it has been releasing separate figures on communal and religious riots. According to the data, Bihar ranked first with 167 communal/religious riots in the year 2018. Around 339 people were affected by these riots. There were a total of 10,276 riots in Bihar that year, which was more than in any other state.
In 2018, during the Ramnavami celebrations, communal violence had erupted in nine districts.
Last year in February, communal violence had taken ugly shape in Sitamarhi where a Muslim man was lynched and set on fire by a mob in broad daylight.
In October last year during Durga idol immersions, too, communal violence took place. One person was killed in the clash. Many shops were looted, most of them belonging to Muslims. The violence was allegedly erupted after a rumour spread about stone pelting targeting the idol in a Muslim populated area. Talking to The Wire, the station house officer of Jehanabad town Satendra Sahi had said, “Neither were stones pelted on idols, nor were idols damaged.”
Victims had then blamed the state machinery for not taking stringent action to stop the violence.
BJP has also claimed that “massacres” have not been happening in Bihar, presumably using the word to indicate caste-based violence. It is true that during the NDA government no massacre has happened but caste-based violence has taken place. According to NCRB data, Bihar has reported 87 cases of caste-based violence, which affected 142 persons.
Bihar is at second position in the country, when it comes to caste-based violence.
The RJD, the main opposition party, has rubbished the video.
Senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari said, “Data manipulation will not work for BJP. Murders, loots, rapes are happening almost everyday. Leave the districts, crimes are on rise in the state capital Patna. People are seeing this. They will not believe in BJP’s manipulation.”
RJD national spokesperson Dr. Nawal Kishore said, “BJP has a tendency of making fake claims. There has been rise in murder, rape, financial irregularities in Bihar but instead of accepting this BJP compares its regime with Lalu ji’s government. This means NDA has not done anything which can be projected as an achievement.”
BJP MLC Sanjay Paswan defended the claims saying that there was no doubt that law and order has improved in Bihar since the NDA came to power.
He told The Wire, “I have not gone through the State Crime Record Bureau or NCRB statistics but I can say that the law and order situation in Bihar has improved drastically. There is no doubt about it.”
When asked about misinterpretation of data, he said, “There are many types of crime. I have not seen the data. I can comment only if I go through the data. If you have data, please share with me.”