Deaths & injuries in communal incidents during 2018 is not revealed by the latest available annual report of the Home Ministry
As body count due to Delhi riots (some call it pogrom) rise above 45, it is essential to look at the official data related to communal incidents in the country. It is from the annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), one gets information about the number of communal incidents in different years, apart from the number of persons injured and killed in those incidents. There is one exception however -- annual report of the MoHA pertaining to the year 2018-19, which has not provided this bit of information to us.
It may be noted that the annual reports of the MoHA from 2003-04 onwards can be accessed from the web link https://mha.gov.in/documents/annual-reports. Table-1 shows that the total number of communal incidents in the country were 722 in 2002, 711 in 2003, 640 in 2004, 779 in 2005, 698 in 2006, 761 in 2007, 943 in 2008, 791 in 2009, 701 in 2010, 580 in 2011, 668 in 2012, 823 in 2013, 644 in 2014, 751 in 2015, 703 in 2016 and 822 in 2017.
Table 1: Number of communal incidents, persons killed and injured in such incidents (various years)
Source: Annual reports of Ministry of Home Affair (various years), https://mha.gov.in/documents/annual-reports
From the same table, it can be observed that the total number of persons killed in communal incidents across India were 1,130 in 2002, 193 in 2003, 129 in 2004, 124 in 2005, 133 in 2006, 99 in 2007, 167 in 2008, 119 in 2009, 116 in 2010, 91 in 2011, 94 in 2012, 133 in 2013, 95 in 2014, 97 in 2015, 86 in 2016 and 111 in 2017. Thus, the highest number of killings in communal incidents happened in 2002, the year when Godhra train burning took place, followed by communal riots all across the nation, including Gujarat.
Table-1 indicates that the number of persons injured in communal incidents were 4,375 in 2002, 2,261 in 2003, 2,022 in 2004, 2,066 in 2005, 2,170 in 2006, 2,227 in 2007, 2,354 in 2008, 2,342 in 2009, 2,138 in 2010, 1,899 in 2011, 2,117 in 2012, 2,269 in 2013, 1,921 in 2014, 2,264 in 2015, 2,321 in 2016 and 2,384 in 2017.
It is only for some years that the data related to deaths and injuries in Hindu-Muslim and Hindu-Christian riots is available from the annual reports of the MoHA. For example, in 2009, 750 Hindu-Muslim communal incidents took place in the country that resulted in the death of 123 persons and injuries to 2,380 persons. Similarly, in 2010 (till 15 December, 2010), 48 Hindu-Christian communal incidents happened in the country that caused the death of 2 persons and injuries to 8 persons.
Data related to deaths and injuries in Hindu-Muslim and Hindu-Christian riots is entirely missing in the MoHA's annual reports of recent years.
NCRB data on communal riots
The Crime in India report, which is annually published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), provides one information on the number of riots in various years, including the communal ones.
From the Crime in India reports (of various years), we find that the total number of cases of communal/ religious rioting (under IPC crimes) were 1,227 in 2014 (crime rate=0.1 percent), 789 in 2015 (crime rate=0.1 percent), 869 in 2016 (crime rate=0.1 percent), 723 in 2017 (crime rate=0.1 percent) and 512 in 2018 (crime rate=zero percent). These figures don’t match against the figures mentioned in table-1 for the corresponding years.
The divergence in data reported by the MoHA and the NCRB on the number of communal incidents/ riots has also been mentioned in a reply to the unstarred question no. 6036 (to be answered on 11th April, 2017 in the Lok Sabha).
Please note that crime rate is calculated as crime incidence per one lakh of population.
Most cases of communal/ religious rioting in 2018 were reported from Bihar (167), followed by Maharashtra (94) and Haryana (45).
The total number of victims in cases of communal rioting was 812 in 2018. Most victims in that year were reported from Bihar (339), followed by Maharashtra (143) and Madhya Pradesh (65).
In 2018, there were 24 murder cases in which the motive was communal/ religious.
In 2018, 4,097 persons (4,006 males and 91 females) were arrested under offences related to communal/ religious riots (IPC crimes). Out of the total number of persons arrested in communal/ religious riots cases, 14 were juveniles, 2,024 persons were in the age-group 18-29 years, 1,570 persons were in the age-group 30-44 years, 457 persons belonged to the age-group 45-59 years and 32 persons were in the age-group 60 years and above. Therefore, most persons (49.4 percent) who were arrested in communal/ religious riots cases, came from the age-cohort 18-29 years. Kindly note that in the recently held Delhi riots, the involvement of teenagers and young men was quite high, according to media reports.
Prior to 2014, the annual publication of NCRB entitled Crime in India reports provided data on the number of riots but did not classify riots into caste-based or communal riots (or any other type of riot). A separate section on ‘Offences Promoting Enmity Between Different Groups’ on ground of religion, race, place of birth, etc. has also been included since 2014. The Crime in India reports also do not provide any data on the number of persons injured and killed in communal riots in various years.
Source: Crime in India reports (various years), National Crime Records Bureau, www.ncrb.gov.in/crime-india
Chart-1 shows that the total number of riots (of various types, including the communal ones) changed from 1,04,749 in 1992 to 57,828 in 2018.
Neither the annual reports of the MoHA nor the Crime in India reports of NCRB provide any information to us on the religious background of persons who died or got injured in communal incidents/ riots.
A news report by The Polis Project dated 2nd March, 2020, however, shows that most individuals who died in the recent communal riots of North East Delhi were Muslims.
Annual reports (various years), Ministry of Home Affairs, https://mha.gov.in/documents/annual-reports
Crime in India reports (various years), NCRB, www.ncrb.gov.in/crime-india
Unstarred question no 590 to be answered in Lok Sabha on 6th February, 2018, please click here to access
Unstarred question no 6036 to be answered in Lok Sabha on 11th April 2017, please click here to access
The high cost of targeted violence in Northeast Delhi: A list of the deceased, The Polis Project dated 2nd March, 2020, please click here to access
What happened in Delhi was a pogrom -Mira Kamdar, The Atlantic, 28th February, 2020, please click here to access
Delhi violence: Cops shouted “Jai Shri Ram” with armed Hindu mob, charged at Muslims -Kaushal Shroff, Caravan Magazine, 25th February, 2020, please click here to access
Is government crime data reliable? The case of ‘communal incidents data’ -Rakesh Dubbudu, Factly.in, 1 December, 2017, please click here to access
Image Courtesy: UNDP India
Inclusive Media for Change, 5 March, 2020,