Facing criticism for its inability to check instances of intolerance, the government admitted that communal violence in the first 10 months of 2015 surpassed the total figure for 2014 but insisted that it was substantially lower than 2013 when the UPA was in power.
There have been 650 incidents of communal violence in the first 10 months of the year against 644 in 2014, minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Rijiju pointed that communal violence had substantially come down from the 823 incidents in 2013.
But with high-stakes Lok Sabha elections round the corner, 2013 was an unusual year.
A large proportion of the increase in violence was attributable to Uttar Pradesh that accounted for one-fourth of all communal cases in the country in 2013, home ministry data shows.
Nearly 50 people were killed in UP’s Muzaffarnagar riots alone that prompted then prime minister Manmohan Singh to convene a meeting of the National Integration Council and call for an end to the “politicisation of riots”.
Rijiju did not offer a comparison with statistics from 2011 or 2012, the two years that saw lower figures, 580 and 668.
To another question on eminent people offering to return their recognition to protest rising intolerance, Rijiju said 39 Sahitya Akademi awardees, one Lalit Kala Akademi awardee and three Padma awardees had returned their awards to the government.
Sahitya Akademi has requested the writers to reconsider their decision, he said, stressing that the responsibility of dealing with communal violence rests primarily with the state government concerned. The Centre only assisted the states by sharing available information, providing security personnel and issuing advisories.