How True is Naqvi's Claim of 'No Major Communal Riot in 7-8 Years'? It's Not
NCRB records show 5,415 cases of communal riots were recorded during 2014-2020; Delhi riots alone claimed 52 lives
Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, on April 28, 2022, told a visiting European Union delegation that there has been "no major incident of communal violence in the past seven-eight years" under the NDA government in India, reported the Indian Express.
"There have been some isolated incidents, and in these the Modi government has taken strong and effective action against the perpetrators, without consideration of religion, caste or community," Naqvi was quoted as saying. He said this during a discussion with a six-member delegation that includes European Union's special representative for human rights Eamon Gilmore on the human rights situation in India.
#India: At meetings with Government, including @naqvimukhtar, Minister for Minorities, I discussed FCRA, use of sedition and anti-terrorism laws, detentions, the situation of minorities, communal violence, situation in Jammu Kashmir, and individual cases https://t.co/nLYfe5bKxv— Eamon Gilmore (@EamonGilmore) April 29, 2022
Naqvi's response came after the delegation expressed concerns about a letter written by 108 former civil servants on April 26, 2022 to Prime Minister Modi on the rising violence against minorities in India. The letter mentioned the recent demolition drives conducted by the ruling party to demolish "illegal structures" which mostly belonged to the Muslim community.
Major Examples of Communal Violence
Naqvi's claim is false. The first example of a "major" communal violence is the riot that broke out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the ones opposing the law in North East Delhi during February 23-26, 2020. The violence claimed 52 lives and injured 545 persons, according to a March 18, 2020 Rajya Sabha response.
Further, the Delhi police also reported that two cases had been registered regarding use of acid during the riots in which six persons (all male) suffered injuries, according to another December 2021 Rajya Sabha response. The Delhi Police said no person had reported to have lost his eye sight in these acid attacks.
In all, 755 FIRs had been registered, of which 62 heinous cases were investigated by Special Investigation Teams (SITs) in the Crime Branch, one case is investigated by Special Cell to unearth the criminal conspiracy behind the riots and the remaining 692 cases were investigated by North-East District. 1,829 persons have been arrested and charge sheets in 353 cases have been submitted for trial, Kishan Reddy, former Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs told the Rajya Sabha on March 10, 2021.
On August 12, 2020, violent clashes broke out in northeast Bengaluru over a derogatory post on Prophet Muhammed. Three people lost their lives and over 60 were injured in the violence. Two police stations in the city became the target of this mob violence. Several media persons too were injured, some even needing hospitalisation. While some faced the ire of the mob, others were attacked by police while filming the riot-like situation, reported The News Minute.
Recently, communal violence broke out between sections of Hindus and Muslims in several states in April 2022 during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti processions in which two persons were killed and several others injured.
This is not the first time Naqvi has made such a claim. In July 2018, FactChecker had verified the BJP minister's claim of "no big communal riots" between 2014 and 2016 against official records and found it false then as well. That fact-check too includes a list of cases of communal violence reported in the news during the four years.
Data Do Not Match
The National Crime Records Bureau, which collects and maintains a number of cases of riots registered under section 147 to 151 of the Indian Penal Code, showed that 5,415 communal riots were reported between 2014 and 2020.
When it comes to deaths related to communal violence, 389 people were killed and 8,890 injured between 2014 and 2017, according to the latest available data provided by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the Lok Sabha on February 6, 2018 and February 7, 2017. Since then whenever asked about the "number of deaths or other casualties reported in riots", the Centre has only responded saying, "The responsibility of maintaining law and order including dealing with communal violence and maintaining relevant data rests with the respective state governments."
However, NCRB records data on the total number of victims of communal incidents. In the last six years, between 2015 and 2020, 5,875 people have fallen victim to communal incidents. Moreover, this number saw a 79.5% jump last year – 2019 (593) and 2020 (1,065).
While the cases of communal riots have dipped by 30% between 2014 (1,227) and 2020 (857), there was a significant increase of 95.66% in the one year between 2019 (438) and 2020 (857). With 520 incidents in 2020, Delhi saw the highest number of communal riots in India, followed by Bihar (117), Haryana (51) and Jharkhand (51).
In fact, the MHA has mentioned, in its 2020-21 Annual Report, that Rs 1.22 crore were granted in the year as assistance for "child and youth victims of communal, caste, ethnic or terrorist violence" in the country.
The National Foundation for Communal Harmony, an autonomous organisation under the MHA, has a flagship scheme called Project 'Assist', under which it provides financial assistance to victims of communal violence. "During 2020-21, 687 cases including 37 fresh cases were approved as on January 31, 2021 for grant of assistance under the Project at a cost of Rs 1.22 crore," read the MHA report.
FactChecker tried contacting Naqvi for his clarification via email but had not received a response by the time of publishing this article. If and when we do, it'll be updated here.