Ahead of Uttar Pradesh's Assembly elections, political parties and its members are making tall claims during rallies and in advertisements. In the last few days, Samajwadi Party chief and Member of Parliament (MP) from Azamgarh Akhilesh Yadav and the UP government have made claims over hunger index, farmers suicides and the Swachh Bharat Mission.
FactChecker verified this against official records and found:
Claim 1: "Those who claim to make UP number 1 have actually taken it to the top position in custodial deaths, notices received by National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), hunger index, farmer suicides, sale of public enterprises & banks and in burying live cows," said Yadav while kicking off the seventh leg of SP's poll campaign on December 17, 2021 in UP's Rae Bareli.
Fact: For verification, FactChecker broke this statement into four claims on UP's position among other states over custodial deaths, hunger index, human rights violations and farmer suicides. The rest of the claims couldn't be verified owing to lack of official records on those subjects.
Firstly, the SP chief's claim that UP holds top spot in custodial deaths is misleading, according to National Crime Records Bureau's (NCRB) Crime in India 2020 report and Lok Sabha responses.
Uttar Pradesh recorded one death in police custody in 2019, showed NCRB data which was published in 2020. India saw 76 deaths in police custody in 2019 and, of these, Gujarat reported the highest — 15. It was followed by Andhra Pradesh (8) and Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu reporting six deaths each.
For more latest data, FactChecker referred to the records of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, which records the number of registered cases of deaths in police and judicial custody. Maharashtra recorded the highest number of cases over deaths in police custody — 26, Minister of State (MoS) for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai told the Lok Sabha on November 30, 2021. Uttar Pradesh (11 cases) ranked fourth after Gujarat (21) and Bihar (18). When it comes to cases on deaths in judicial custody, UP does bag the top spot with 443 cases in 2020-21, according to data presented by Rai in Lok Sabha on July 27, 2021.
Yadav also claimed that UP has the worst hunger index in the country. Since there is no latest state-wise hunger index in the country, FactChecker looked at UP's performance against the four indicators the Global Hunger Index is based on — undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality — and in none of them is UP on top. According to the National Family Health Survey-5, UP (39.7%) ranks third in stunting for children below 5 years, 16th in children who are wasted (17.3%) and anaemic (66.4%) and 10th in underweight children.
The SP chief claimed that UP received the most number of notices from NHRC. When verified with official records, FactChecker found that UP does have the highest number of registered cases under the NHRC in 2021-22 (as of October 31, 2021), according to data presented in Rajya Sabha by Rai on December 8, 2021. In the current financial year (as of October 31), 24,242 cases have been registered under NHRC in UP – a 42.2% decline since 2018-19. UP is followed by Delhi (4,972), West Bengal (3,903) and Bihar (3,379).
When it comes to farmers' suicides, Yadav's claim is once again false. Uttar Pradesh stood eighth in farmer suicides with 87 farmers killing themselves in 2020, showed a response given in the Lok Sabha by Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar on November 30, 2021. Farmer suicides dipped in 2020 by 19.4% since the previous year. Of the 5,579 farmers who committed suicide in 2020, Maharashtra (2,567) accounted for the most deaths, followed by Karnataka (1,072), Andhra Pradesh (564) and Telangana (466).
FactChecker tried contacting SP spokesperson Rajeev Rai via call, message and email, but did not get a response before publishing this article.
Claim 2: In an advertisement titled 'Uttar Pradesh: The No. 1 State of India' in The Times of India on December 19, 2021, the UP government claimed that the state is "no. 1 in construction of toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission".
Fact: This claim is misleading. While Uttar Pradesh has built the highest number of individual household latrines (IHHLs), the state is far behind others when it comes to people using the toilets.
More than 10.86 crore toilets have been constructed in the country under SBM (Grameen) and, of these, 20.1% or 2.19 crore are in UP, showed data presented in Lok Sabha by MoS for Jal Shakti Prahlad Singh Patel on December 9, 2021. However, the same response showed, that the state stands 24th in percentage of toilet usage by population who have access to a toilet — 94.4%. Mizoram, Sikkim and Kerala top this list.
FactChecker tried contacting Navneet Sehgal via call and sent an email to the director of UP's Department of Information and Public Relations, but had not received a response from both by the time of publishing. If and when we do, this story will be updated.