Incidents of riots registered in India increased by around 12.2% in 2020 compared to the previous year, shows the National Crime Records Bureau's (NCRB) latest 'Crime in India 2020' report. And, the number of people who fell victim to such riots also saw an upsurge by 5.8%.

In 2020, 71,107 cases of offences against public tranquility were registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and rioting accounted for 72.6% of these cases. The total cases of offences against public tranquility have also increased by 12.4% in 2020 than the previous year (63,262 cases in 2019).

India witnessed 51,606 rioting cases in 2020, while the number of riot victims stood at 61,907. This means that the country saw 141 cases and 169 victims of rioting every day in 2020. Of these, Bihar topped the list with 9,422 cases, followed by Maharashtra (9,157) and Uttar Pradesh (6,126).

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has several times claimed that in his tenure the state has been riot free. The latest was on September 19, 2021, while releasing his state's report card, he claimed that the state has remained riot-free since 2017. But, UP saw a 7.2% surge in rioting cases since 2019 (approximately 16 cases every day), according to the NCRB report.

According to Section 146 of IPC, "Whenever force or violence is used by an unlawful assembly, or by any member thereof, in prosecution of the common object of such assembly, every member of such assembly is guilty of the offence of rioting." And, whoever is guilty of rioting, shall be punished with a maximum jail term of two years, or with fine, or with both. Of the 5,19,589 cases in trial in 2020, 4,613 saw convictions, increasing the conviction rate from 19.4% in 2019 to 29.5% in 2020.

India had been seeing a continuous decline in riots cases from 2017 to 2019, but it increased by 12.2% in 2020 (51,606). Although, it still was less than the cases in 2016 (61,974).

Riot hotspots

While Bihar, with 9,422 cases, has the highest number of cases in India, Kerala leads with the highest rate of riots per one million (10%). In the reported rate of riots, Kerala is followed by Haryana (8.4%), Bihar (7.7%) and Maharashtra (7.4%).

Bihar has witnessed the highest number of rioting cases in four of five years since 2016 (in 2019 Maharashtra overtook Bihar). The state has also recorded a 29.7% hike in riot cases from last year.

States and Union territories (UTs), such as Chhattisgarh (56.2%), Jharkhand (57.2%), Maharashtra (15.9%), Telangana (50.8%) Uttarakhand and Delhi (772%) have seen a significant rise in the number of riots in the last five years. And, Assam, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir have seen a decline in rioting since 2016.

Northeastern states Mizoram and Meghalaya have not reported more than five cases of riots a year since 2016. In fact, the total cases reported from these two states in five years stands at 21. Notably, apart from reporting one case in 2017, Punjab is the only state to have registered no riots in 2016 and from 2018 to 2020.

When it comes to (UTs), Jammu and Kashmir (782) leads with the most cases followed by Delhi (689) and Puducherry (33) in 2020, while Lakshadweep reported zero cases.

Rise in Communal Riots

The NCRB classifies rioting cases in to 16 types: communal or religious-related rioting, sectarian, industrial, political, caste conflict, agrarian, students, money dispute, water dispute, land/property dispute, family disputes, enmity/rivalry, electric/power supply disputes, rioting while in andolan/morchas, rioting/attacks on police personnel or government servants and other rioting.

Despite the classifications, the 'other riots' category accounts for the highest number of cases (21,766) or 42.2% of the total rioting cases and the NCRB does not explain what kinds of riots are included in this category.

The country saw a 96% rise in communal riots cases in 2020, shows the NCRB data. With 520 incidents and victims, Delhi saw the highest number of communal riots in India, followed by Bihar (117), Haryana (51) and Jharkhand (51).

A total of 736 cases of caste conflicts were reported in 2020 -- nearly a 50% increase than 2019 (492). With 208 cases and 234 victims, Bihar reported the highest caste-based riot cases in 2020, followed by Maharashtra (125), Uttar Pradesh (116) and Karnataka (95).

India also witnessed a 38.5% increase in agrarian riots with Bihar reporting the most with 1,286 agrarian riots. This was followed by Maharashtra (279), Karnataka (148) and Uttar Pradesh (142).

Land/property disputes

Land and property-related disputes account for 20.6% (10,652) of the total riots cases in 2020. Next in the ranking are family disputes (5,063), followed by enmity/rivalry disputes (4.338), agrarian-related rioting (2,188) and rioting while in Andolan and Morchas (1,905).

In the last five years, water disputes have risen by 87% and family disputes by 42.7%. Meanwhile, industrial, sectarian, student riots, power supply disputes, rioting attacks on police personnel/government officials have reduced in the last five years.