Despite Collecting It, NCRB Hasn't Published 2017 Data on Lynchings

The 2017 report has been released an entire year after it was supposed to be.

New Delhi: When the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released its data for 2017 on Monday – an entire year behind schedule – a few promised new sections were missing. Data collected under the sub-heads mob lynching, murder by influential people and killing ordered by khap panchayat have not been published.

According to the Indian Express, the 2017 report follows a framework largely similar to the 2016 one, except for additions under the cyber crimes and offences against the state category.

“It is surprising that this data [on mob lynching, etc.] has not been published. This data was ready and fully compiled and analysed. Only the top brass would know the reason why it has not been published,” an official told the newspaper.

The NCRB under director Ish Kumar had decided to categorise the data under these new sub-sections because of a spate of incidents of mob violence and killings across the country. Lynchings have occurred for a variety of reasons, including suspiciouns of cattle theft or smuggling, rumours of child lifting, and so on. In a majority of cases, particularly those perpetuated by self-styled ‘gau rakshaks‘, Muslims and Dalits have been the victims.

Recently, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had said that ‘lynchings’ are a Western construct and should not be used ‘defame’ India. His statement was widely criticised as trying to cover up crimes against minorities. Several leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have expressed explicit support for the accused in lynching cases, and government agencies have been accused of going soft on the investigations to ensure that nobody is punished.

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In July 2018, Union minister Hansraj Ahir had told the Rajya Sabha that the Centre does not have any data on lynching incidents because the NCRB does not collect it.

The Modi government has been infamous for either withholding or delaying the release of data collected by government agencies. Now, with the NCRB report being released without the numbers under the sub-headings mentioned, the criticism that the Centre wants to suppress information that doesn’t suit it might not go away.

The International Monetary Fund too raised red flags on how the Indian government is holding back on releasing data. The IMF’s Annual Observance Report of the Special Data Dissemination Standard for 2018 has found that India fell short of adhering to the time limits prescribed by the IMF in all data categories.

What the 2017 NCRB report says

Over 50 lakh cases of cognisable crimes were registered across the country in 2017 – an increase of 3.6% from 2016 when 48 lakh FIRs were lodged, according to the latest NCRB data.

Murder cases registered a decline of 5.9% in 2017. As many as 28,653 killings were recorded in 2017, down from 30,450 in 2016, the NCRB report said. ‘Disputes’ (7,898 cases) were the motive in the maximum number of murder cases, followed by ‘personal vendetta or enmity’ (4,660) and ‘gain’ (2,103), it stated.

Cases of kidnapping and abduction saw a 9% increase in 2017, with 95,893 cases registered against 88,008 in 2016.

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As many as 3,59,849 cases of crime against women were registered across the country in 2017, continuing the upward trend for the third consecutive year. In 2015, 3,29,243 cases of crimes against women were registered and 3,38,954 cases were registered in 2016.

The cases categorised as crimes against women include murder, rape, dowry death, suicide abetment, acid attack, cruelty against women and kidnapping, etc.

According to the NCRB data for 2017, the maximum cases were registered in Uttar Pradesh (56,011). Maharashtra recorded the second-highest number of crimes against women with 31,979 cases, followed by 30,992 in West Bengal, 29,778 in Madhya Pradesh, 25,993 in Rajasthan and 23,082 in Assam, the data said.

Delhi, however, saw a decline in crimes against women for the third straight year. As many as 13,076 FIRs were registered in 2017, down from 15,310 in 2016 and 17,222 in 2015, the NCRB report said.

Assam recorded the highest crime rate of 143 in the country in 2017. The crime rate is offences registered per one lakh people. Odisha and Telangana recorded the second-highest crime rate of 94 each, followed by Haryana (88) and Rajasthan (73).

Eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura – registered crimes against women only in three digits, with not even 1% contribution to the all-India figures, according to the NCRB data.

(With PTI inputs)