Of the over 2,000 murders reported in West Bengal in 2016, “political reasons” were cited as the motive in only one, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). But if the Union Home Ministry is to be believed, 36 political murders were reported in the State that year.
The Ministry sent an advisory to the State government on June 15 saying that political violence in the State claimed 183 lives in the four years to 2019 — 36, 25, 96 and 26, respectively.
The ruling Trinamool in the State has been engaged in a tense political stand-off with the Centre and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during the Lok Sabha election and after.
The NCRB collates crime data from all States and publishes a comprehensive report. The last time the bureau released the report — Crime in India, 2016 — was in 2017. The crime reports for 2017 and 2018 are still pending as some States have not sent data in the required format.
A senior Home Ministry official said the NCRB solely depended on data sent by the States. Asked about the huge discrepancy in number of political murders reported as mentioned in the 2016 NCRB report and in the database of the Ministry, an official said, “The Ministry has its own mechanism of collating such data, the NCRB depends on crime figures sent by the State government. The Ministry also has other means. It could be that the State under-reported or suppressed the numbers while sending data to the NCRB.”
A senior West Bengal government official told The Hindu that they were “processing the reply” to the report sought by the Ministry.
The Home Ministry official said the Ministry took the help of other agencies in compiling reports.
Former NCRB Director Ish Kumar said that in 2017-18, the bureau revised the software format in consultation with the States and other stakeholders to improve the crime classification.
“Training was imparted to representatives from all States on the new software. Data is fed either at the police station level or the district crime record bureaus. It is first compiled by the States and sent to the NCRB where it is verified and then compiled,” Dr. Kumar said.
As many as 112 political murders were reported across the country in 2016. Twenty-nine of them, the highest, were reported from Uttar Pradesh, 26 from Bihar, 15 from Kerala, 10 from Karnataka, eight from Madhya Pradesh, six from Maharashtra, four from Chhattisgarh, three each from Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha and Gujarat, and two from Jharkhand. No political murders were reported from the remaining 16 States and the seven Union Territories, the NCRB says.
The Ministry has sought a report from West Bengal on the growing incidence of political violence and issued an advisory that the “unabated violence” over the years was a matter of deep concern. It said it received reports that the number of incidents in the State increased from 509 in 2016 to 1,035 in 2018.