Uttar Pradesh witnessed 201 incidents of communal riots and tension in approximately the first 250 days of this year, in which 62 people — 42 Muslims and 20 Hindus — lost their lives.
The official figures, which perhaps for the first time have identified the religion of riot victims, show that the bulk of those killed due to communal violence in the country comes from UP, which recently witnessed riots in Muzaffarnagar that brought to fore the fragile relationship between different communities.
The deaths may be less in Maharashtra compared to UP, but the western state is a close second in the number of communal incidents and tension, according to the latest statistics on communal tension, which said 114 Muslims and 85 Hindus were killed in the past two years in the country. The number of injured is 3,764, including 2,804 Hindus and 1,490 Muslims.
This year, till September 15, a total of 107 people — 66 Muslims and 41 Hindus — were killed in 479 communal incidents in the country. Uttar Pradesh accounted for 58 per cent or 62 victims — 42 Muslims and 20 Hindus — of the victims. Maharashtra had 10 deaths – three Hindus and seven Muslims. This year, 794 Hindus and 703 Muslims were injured.
This year’s toll has surpassed last year’s death figure of 92, thanks mostly to the riots in Muzaffarnagar, where officially 39 have been declared dead, with locals claiming that the number could be well over 50. Last year, 93 people — 48 Muslims, 44 Hindus and a police officer — had been killed in 640 communal incidents. UP had accounted for 39 of these deaths — 20 Hindus and 19 Muslims.
Providing religion-wise data, however, has courted controversy, with former Home Secretary R K Singh raising objections, saying that it could ignite passion. “This is dangerous. We are playing with fire. The data could be skewed and it has the potential of igniting passion,” he said.
The statistics revealed by the Union Home Ministry also show a disturbing aspect about incidents of communal tension in the country. While there were 479 communal riots, including two major ones, so far this year, the country also witnessed communal tension on 433 occasions.
In communal tension which did not assume the form of riots, UP and Maharashtra topped the list with 108 and 100 incidents respectively.
Maharashtra recorded a total of 156 communal riots and incidents raising communal tension this year, followed by Madhya Pradesh 107, Karnataka 81 and Rajasthan 76.
Gujarat recorded 54 riots and 21 incidents leading to communal tension, in which three Muslims and Hindus each were killed. Injuries were sustained by 85 Hindus and 57 Muslims in riots. In Karnataka, one Muslim lost his life in riots while 61 Hindus and 65 Muslims were injured.
Bihar was another state which had a higher rate of such
incidents — 65 — in which five Hindus and four Muslims were killed, and 189, including 123 Hindus injured. There is apprehension in the security apparatus that there could be communal polarisation ahead of the Lok Sabha election, and the Centre early asked seven states, including UP and Karnataka, to be alert against such polarisation leading to violence ahead of the poll.