The Modi government has evaded questions on recent crime data 22 times in the ongoing Parliament session without providing any reason for the lack of information, The Quint’s analysis of responses to questions in the Lok Sabha shows.The Central government’s responses clarify that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has not published statistics on crimes committed in India for the years 2017 to 2019, and that it has also failed to publish any information on accidental deaths, suicides and prison deaths for the years 2016 to 2019.However, despite reiterating in multiple responses that NCRB data for crimes (including cyber crimes as well as crimes against women and children) since 2016 is not available, the Centre has revealed that the NCRB does have state-wise data on fake currency notes seized in the country all the way till 18 June 2019.Too caught up to read the whole story? Listen to it here:Is the NCRB Delaying the Release of Its Reports?Govt’s ResponsesThere have been at least 27 questions asked to the government (for which answers are available as of 3 July 2019) about statistics on crimes, farmer suicides and accidental deaths. Among these, 24 questions have specifically asked for the statistics from the last three years (in some, the last four or five years, including 2019).Only two of those questions (nos. 567 and 1606) have been answered by the government – on the seizure of fake currency – quoting data held by the NCRB.In its responses to each of the other 22 questions, the Centre has glossed over the specific timeframe mentioned in the question, and merely provided the information from the last available NCRB reports.For questions on cyber crimes and crimes against women and children, data from 2014 to 2016 is provided. Eg: question nos. 587 and 423.For questions on farmer suicides, accidental deaths and prison deaths, information from 2013 to 2015 is provided. Eg: question nos. 1787, 636, and 1641.No reasoning is given why the NCRB does not have data available for subsequent years, or why the government is providing information not requested in the questions.Why is This Controversial?The fact that the NCRB does have data on fake currency which the government is able to provide is what makes these answers controversial. Like the NCRB’s ‘Crime in India’ report, no official report on fake currency seized has been published since 2016. And yet, the government can provide this information till as recently as two weeks ago.If the NCRB can provide information on fake currency, which has not yet been published, why is it unable to provide information on other specific types of crimes? The lack of a report is evidently not an impediment for the government to access this information – so why is the government only willing to provide information on one type of crime?Note also that the government’s responses specifically say that it is the NCRB which has the data on fake currency, so this cannot be brushed aside as information available with a different government department. The fact that the NCRB has data from each state also belies the argument provided by a senior government official to The Hindu, that some states had failed to provide information to the NCRB in a timely manner.Certain responses by the central government to Lok Sabha questions also indicate that the NCRB does have at least some data for the years since 2016, despite not publishing it.Govt’s Dataphobia: Why No Data on Unemployment or Farmer Suicides?For instance, in its response to question no. 1623, on whether the rate of suicides in India has gone up in the last three years, the Ministry of Home Affairs does not just provide its stock answer of the NCRB data only being available till 2015, instead, in response to this question and its specific timeframe, it says that“The data maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not show any such trend.”(Though it once again dodged the sub-question on numbers and instead referred to the 2015 report.)Lest this be argued away as a mere slip, in a separate question on trends of violence against women (no. 1686), the same ministry instead said the data in published NCRB reports for the years till 2016 did not show a trend of increase in such crimes.The government has still not explained why the NCRB’s data for the last few years has been so delayed. While we continue to wait for that data, it is disconcerting to see that complete information is now not even being provided to questions in Parliament, even to direct questions specifying a timeframe. We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.