There is a yawning chasm of difference between the number of acid attack victims quoted by the Union government in Parliament and the figures registered by the State Crime Record Bureau (SCRB) in Madhya Pradesh.
Going by the data provided by the SCRB and the state’s home department, they seem to have no inkling of as many as 39 acid attack cases that occurred right under their noses.
On April 21, Union minister of state for home Haribhai Chaudhary had stated that Madhya Pradesh – with as many as 53 instances – recorded the second-highest number of acid attack cases in 2014 (Uttar Pradesh was the most notorious with 186 cases).
He also informed the house that 46 persons had been arrested in the state for their alleged involvement in these cases.
Surprisingly, the SCRB – which is the sole recording agency of criminal cases in the state – holds a shockingly different contention. It claims that just 14 acid attack cases were registered in the state during that period.
SCRB additional director general RK Garg said, “Our staff collected this data from all the districts of Madhya Pradesh, and if only 14 cases of acid attacks were found to be registered, our figures must be right. We have no idea about the figures submitted in the Lok Sabha.”
Another SCRB officer, who wished to remain anonymous, also nodded in agreement. “We don’t know how the home ministry arrived at this figure. Probably it was sent to them by the crime against women division,” he said.
However, crime against women DSP Kiran Lata Kirketta denied doing anything of the kind. Even the state home department seemed unaware of how the Union home ministry had come to acquire the disputed ‘data’.
Commenting on the matter, principal secretary BP Singh said, “Data related to criminal cases is collected by the SCRB. And I don’t remember any such data being released by the home department.”
However, he did not want to make a big deal of it. “It’s not like this is happening for the first time,” said Singh. “Discrepancies in data are common.”
Ashish Shukla, an activist with Stop Acid Attack, found such nonchalance disconcerting.
“While it’s good that acid attacks have now found a separate head in crime records, the authorities don’t report the numbers correctly.”
Off by 39
On April 21, Union MoS Haribhai Chaudhary stated Madhya Pradesh – with as many as 53 instances – recorded the second-highest number of acid attack cases in 2014
The SCRB – which is the sole recording agency of criminal cases in the state –claims that just 14 acid attack cases were registered in the state during that period
An SCRB officer said it was probably the crimes against women department that sent the numbers to Union home ministry
But crime against women DSP Kiran Lata Kirketta denied doing anything of the kind