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Communal violence in Rajasthan rises close to elections: Govt data

Rajasthan, historically, is not known for communal violence even though some incidents have been reported in the recent past. By the end of 2017, Rajasthan was among the eight states that accounted for 85% of incidents of communal violence that claimed 111 lives.

jaipur Updated: Aug 30, 2018 14:04 IST
Jaykishan Sharma
Jaykishan Sharma
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
rajasthan,communal violence,BJP
An armed policeman in Ramganj Bazar area of Jaipur after curfew was imposed following arson by mob and death of a civilian in clashes between police and the mob. (HT File Photo )

Incidents of communal violence in Rajasthan have been on the rise since 2007 with a spurt during an election year, analysis of the data tabled in Parliament during different periods show.

However, the number of such incidents reported from Rajasthan is less than that from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. The western state is also among the top five states in the country when it came to deaths during such incidents.

Rajasthan, historically, is not known for communal violence even though some incidents have been reported from Tonk, Pali, Bundi and Jaipur in the recent past. By the end of 2017, Rajasthan was among the eight states that accounted for 85% of incidents of communal violence that claimed 111 lives.

While police officials attribute the rise to better reporting of even minor incidents of communal tension, activists attribute the trend to an attempt by the political parties to polarise voters before elections.

Home ministry data shows that the total number of communal violence incidents since 2007, when the ministry started collating such data, was 596 with the highest being in 2017 when the figure stood at 91. The data also shows a three-fold jump in such incidents with 30 incidents of communal violence reported in 2007.

The data revealed that there was a spurt in the incidents of communal violence in an election year when compared to the previous one and the trend also continued for the next. For instance, 39 incidents of communal violence were reported in 2008, an election year, which increased to 52 in the subsequent year before witnessing a dip. The BJP won the 2008 polls.

Five years down the line, during the 2013 elections, 52 communal incidents were reported, 15 more incidents than 2012 . The rising trend continued with 72 such incidents reported in 2014. The Congress won the 2013 polls.

“We are keeping a strict watch on these incidents and they are now on a decline in the state,” said NRK Reddy, special director general of police, law and order.

“We call it a spillover impact,” said another Rajasthan police officer, who was not willing to be quoted. “We have seen that after the elections get over, revenge incidents take place. As the elections are normally held in November-December, its impact is visible till early next year”.

At a glance
Number of persons killed in communal incidents between 2007 and 2017 in Rajasthan
Source: Replies of central home ministry in Lok Sabha

Reacting to the analysis, BJP spokesperson Satish Poonia said, “We should not look at these incidents through a political lens. Every government put their best efforts in order to reduce the communal incidents.” He, however, blamed social media for flaring up incidents of communal violence and said proper enforcement of cyber laws can check the spread of “fake news”.

Congress spokesperson Archana Sharma blamed the BJP government for rise in such incidents and said, “The government plays a mute spectator while police act as bystanders in order to pacify a particular group and ideology.”

However, when asked about more number of people dying in communal clashes during Congress regime, she said, “I don’t remember any big communal incident during the tenure of the last government except the killing of inspector Phool Mohammed. It’s the BJP and its affiliated organisation which are supporting the fringe elements and giving rise to communal incidents.”

Sociologist Rajiv Gupta said: “During these communal incidents, the killings came out of sheer frustration and hunger for power that’s why murder and killing are in large numbers.” He blamed the ruling BJP for the increase in incidents of communal violence in recent years saying “they are focusing more on the spread of the ideology of fear and that’s why the number of incidents has increased and killings have come down.”

First Published: Aug 30, 2018 14:04 IST