On 18 October, in an interview with Network18's Rahul Joshi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah denied that there has been an increase in lynchings in India under the BJP.
The home minister said that by creating awareness about lynchings, this issue could be resolved.
“The instances of so called mob-lynchings haven’t increased under the BJP. A certain propaganda is being created about this.”Amit Shah to Network18
Lynchings are incidents of violence and assault on people where the victim is killed by a mob or more than one person. The killings often take place in response to rumours of an an alleged crime by the victim, with the crowd taking the law into their own hands.
Shah also said that the laws currently in existence were sufficient to deal with the problem and that "no special law was needed to tackle it".
Shah may have said this in the interview, but is there any basis to his claim? What data was he relying on when he denied that there has been an increase in lynchings in India under BJP?
The Quint tried to find out whether there is enough to back up the statement made by Shah.
No Conclusive Govt Data Post 2017
In March 2018, the Ministry of Home Affairs’ response to a question in the Lok Sabha on mob lynchings in India, said that 45 people were lynched between 2014 and 2017 in 40 cases of mob violence, across 21 states and Union Territories. 14 states and Union Territories had not provided the data.
However, in July 2018, Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, said in the Rajya Sabha that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not maintain specific data on lynching incidents in the country. He said this while responding to a question about whether the government keeps records of incidents of mob lynching.
Ahir later repeated the same thing in Lok Sabha in December 2018, when asked about whether the government is aware of the increasing incidents of lynching and mob violence in the country.
Independent Studies Show a Different Picture
While the government has avoided providing data when it comes to increase in the number of incidents of mob violence after 2014, independent data collected by individual organisations show a very different picture.
IndiaSpend, a data website, recorded 80 cases of violence for the period between 2014-2017, in which 41 deaths were reported. However, it must be noted that these cases only included violence due to bovine-related hate crime and child-lifting rumours.
The portal has also reported that nearly 98 percent of these attacks have occurred after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assumed power.
The data collected by The Quint between 2015-2019 has recorded a total of 219 cases in which 113 people have lost their lives.
The cases of violence saw an increase in 2018 when nearly 54 people were killed in incidents of mob violence.
According to The Quint's tracker the number was as low as seven in 2016.
No NCRB Data Available
Moreover, the NCRB, which is the agency responsible for collecting and analysing data about crime in India, has not published any data for the years after 2016. Their report ‘Crime in India’ 2016, released in 2017, is the last one published by the agency. Therefore, there are no official statistics on crime in India post 2016 that have been released by the government.
In July 2017, the NCRB had announced that they were planning to collect detailed data on lynchings, according to a report by The Indian Express. NCRB Director Ish Kumar had confirmed the existence of such a plan to The Sunday Express, saying that it was still in the initial stages.
The Quint has reached out to NCRB officials and this article will be updated if and when they respond.
The Supreme Court of India too had recognised in 2018 that there was an increase in the number of cases of mob violence and lynchings across the country. The apex court had directed the central government to enact a law to deal with it.
In light of the independent figures as well as the Supreme Court judgment, and in the absence of any conclusive government data, the statement by the Home Minister that there has been no increase in the cases of violence in the past 5 and a half years, cannot be verified.
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