(Editor's Note: The story was first published on 20 March 2021 and is being republished from The Quint's archives in light of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath making the same claim during the launch of the of the PM Mega Integrated Textile Sector and Apparel (PM MITRA) Park in UP's Lucknow on 18 April 2023. Further, the latest National Crime Records Bureau report shows 5,302 recorded cases of rioting in 2021.)
As the Bharatiya Janata Party government completes its four years in Uttar Pradesh with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at its helm, the state government held a press conference on the ‘four years of governance’ on Friday, 19 March.
While recounting the state government’s achievements, Adityanath made an oft-repeated false claim that there has been no instance of riots in the last four years, since the BJP came to power in 2017.
“This is the same Uttar Pradesh in which no occasion or festival could be celebrated in a peaceful manner. Today, I can say this with great pleasure and pride that in the last four years all the occasions and festivals in the state were celebrated in a peaceful manner. And not only this, there have been no riots in the state in the last four years.”Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister
Adityanath had made a similar claim in January 2019, which had been debunked by several fact-checking websites including The Quint.
Data Shows 5,714 Cases of Rioting in UP
The latest data by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for the year 2019 shows 5,714 cases of rioting in UP. The state ranks third in the number of cases of rioting, after Maharashtra and Bihar.
Further, as per a reply by the Ministry of Home Affairs to a Lok Sabha Question, dated 11 December 2018, Uttar Pradesh ranked one in ‘communal incidents’ in the year 2017. It had the highest number of incidents in comparison to years 2014-16.
Cursory Glance at Reports Suggests Otherwise
A cursory glance at the news reports, too, punctures the claim made by the chief minister. Communal tension had ensued in UP’s Kasganj in January 2018 after a clash between Hindus and Muslims had claimed one life and led to the arrest of 112 people following arson attacks on three shops, two buses, and a car.
In fact, the UP Police had charged at least 135 people who were protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in February 2020 with rioting in the Bilariaganj area of Azamgarh.
Further, the CM’s claim comes as a direct contradiction to his written reply to a question raised by Samajwadi Party member Rakesh Pratap Singh in the Assembly over the anti-CAA protests in February 2020.
At the time, Adityanath had stated that 21 persons were killed in riots over the past six months, according to a report by news agency, PTI.
“In the past six months, 21 persons were killed in riots, protests, sit-ins in the state. In incidents of stone-pelting by protesters, 400 policemen were injured and 61 policemen sustained firearms injuries,” the CM had stated.
Peaceful Festivals? Reports Disagree
This claim, too, is in contradiction with the facts.
There have been several instances of violence such as a clash between two different communities in Pilibhit in March 2019 over Holi celebrations, when one person was killed and four injured.
In September 2018, a mob had clashed with the police in Gorakhpur after an accident during a Moharram processions left a few youths injured. The Deccan Herald had reported that the police had to resort to lathi-charge and tear gas shells to disperse the violent mob, which indulged in stone-pelting.
Hindustan Times had also reported several cases of clashes on Moharram in October 2017, with six people getting injured and four two-wheelers set ablaze in Ballia. Whereas, in Kanpur nearly 30 people were injured and 10 vehicles and four shops were either set on fire or ransacked during clashes.
Evidently, Adityanath’s statement seems to be in contradiction with several reports and data on violence provided by the government itself.
Adityanath Makes the Same Claim, Figures Show 5,302 Cases in 2021
Speaking at the launch of the PM MITRA (Pradhan Mantri Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel) Park in Lucknow, Yogi Adityanath again claimed that the state had not seen any riots since 2017.
The statement came shortly after gangster-turned politician Atiq Ahmed was shot dead along with his brother in Prayagraj on 15 April.
However, the 2021 NCRB report shows 5,302 registered cases of rioting in the state.