NCRB Data and BJP-RSS Contempt For Human Rights

THE Modi Government delayed and suppressed the data from the National Crime Records Bureau for a whole year. Finally, it has released 2017 data in 2019. The NCRB had pleaded earlier that the delay was in part due to the need to collect and organise the data under certain new sub-heads including lynchings and khap-ordered killings. But the data collected by NCRB under the sub-heads mob lynching, murder by influential people and killing ordered by khap panchayat have not been published!

It is significant that recently, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat declared that ‘lynchings’ are a Western construct and should not be used ‘defame’ India. To be clear, he did not say that Indians ought not to lynch: he merely sought to brand those expressing outrage at the lynchings as “anti-nationals” out to “defame” India.

While the NCRB has suppressed data relating to lynchings, it has created a new category – of “anti-national crimes”! The NCRB data also shows evidence of the use of the ‘sedition’ law to persecute dissenting voices. The total number of sedition cases increased from 35 in 2016 to 51 in 2017, where 228 persons were arrested by the police, as compared to 48 in 2016. Assam, which reported no case of sedition in 2016, registered 19 cases in 2017  Assam recorded the highest number of sedition cases followed by Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.

In the same vein as Bhagwat, India’s Home Minister Amit Shah recently declared that “Western” standards of human rights cannot be “blindly” applied to India, since “There is no bigger violation of human rights than those affected by militants in Kashmir or Naxals.” What did Shah mean, exactly? International human rights norms have always held militants and non-state actors accountable, and have defined every attack on non-combatants and civilians as a violation of human rights. What Shah means is that since militants violate human rights, it would be “anti-Indian” to hold Indian law-enforcement forces and armed personnel accountable for custodial killings in conflict areas. In other words, what he implies is that it is anti-Indian to demand respect for human rights from forced engaged in conflicts with “Maoists” and “Kashmiri militants.”

Remember, Shah himself is the first Home Minister of India who has been accused in cases of custodial killing of three persons, and also of illegal spying on a woman. For the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to have invited Shah to address it, is a tragic irony.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir administration – which is directly controlled by Home Minister Amit Shah – has wound up seven commissions including the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), State Commission for Protection of Women and Child Rights (SCPWCR), and State Commission for Persons with Disabilities (SCPwD).