Increase in communal incidents during 2017
India witnessed 822 communal incidents (riots) across the country in the calendar year 2017 compared to 703 such incidents during 2016 and 751 in 2015. During 2017, 111 persons were killed and 2384 people injured as against 84 people killed and 2321 injured in preceding year2016, and 97 killed in 2015 and 2264 injured in that year. According to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), country wide situation by and large is under control and the Union Government together with States and Union Territories is keeping a watchful eye on the situation. However, sources in the MHA, which did not want to be named, maintain the rise in communal incidents is alluded to increasing social tensions on account of growing minorities and dalit bashings, hate campaign and targeted violence against them.
According to the MHA, details of persons killed, arrested, convicted, actions taken against the perpetrators of communal riots, organizations involved, damages to property and other related matters are not maintained centrally. Yet the Ministry’s data revealed that of the 822 communal riots in 2017, as usual Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of 195 communal riots followed by Karnataka 100, Bihar 85, Madhya Pradesh 60, Gujarat 50, Jharkhand 49, West Bengal 58, Maharashtra 46, Telengana 19, Assam 16, Kerala 12, Tamil Nadu 11, Jammu & Kashmir 8, Uttarakhand 7, Haryana 4, Odisha 4, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Tripura one each.
In 2016, Uttar Pradesh recorded 162 communal clashes followed by Karnataka 101, Maharashtra 68, Bihar 65, Rajasthan 63, Gujarat 53, Madhya Pradesh 57, West Bengal 32, Jharkhand 24, Assam 12, Tamil Nadu 8, Telengana 8, Delhi 7, Manipur 7, Uttarakhand 7, Kerala 6, Chhattisgarh 2, Hayana 2, Himachal Pradesh 2 and Andhra Pradesh one.
During 2015, Uttar Pradesh registered 155 communal incidents followed by Karnataka 105, Maharashtra 105, Madhya Pradesh 92, Bihar 71, Rajasthan 65, Gujarat 55, Jharkhand 28, West Bengal 27, Telengana 11, Uttarakhand 9, Delhi 5, Jammu & Kashmir 4, Andhra Pradesh 4, Assam 3, Haryana 3, Chhattisgarh 2, and Himachal Pradesh one.
Union Government in coordination with States and Union Territories have put in place several mechanisms to keep a tab on communal situations in the country to maintain communal harmony, peace and progress. In the MHA, National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH) is there to interact with cross sections of people including educational institutes to spread the messages of communal harmony, instituted annual awards and other incentives to activists, men and women of goodwill and substance who propagate advantages of harmony, tolerance, peaceful co-existence and diversity of people of India as its core values for path forward to all round progress of nation.
In the prevailing context of sections of print and electronic media playing partisan role in violation of the world wide established journalistic ethics of media reporting and presenting facts with attendant neutrality, fairness and objectivity, the statutory Press Council of India (PCI) has formulated Norms of Journalistic Conduct for adherence by print media. PCI monitors and takes cognizance when media violate norms of journalistic ethics framed by it. PCI may warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor or the journalist or disapprove the conduct of editor or the journalist.
As for advertisements and programmes telecast on private satellite TVs, such programmes are regulated in keeping with the Programme and Advertising Codes prescribed under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules framed thereunder. The Act does not provide for pre-censorship of the programmes and ads aired on such channels. However, all satellite TV channels are required to stick to the Codes, which provide for a wide range of regulation of programmes and ads on TV channels that includes contents shown without verification or promoting communal biases or likely to encourage violence or giving casteist twist or bias to criminal incidents.
Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting monitors content of private TV channels to detect violation of Programme and Ads Codes. Besides, an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) looks into the specific complaints or suo-motu takes cognizance against violations of the Codes. Suitable action is taken whenever violations of the Codes is established. Union Government feels existing provisions in the Programme and Ads Codes and other mechanisms are adequate to regulate contents of private TV channels.
According to the MHA, Union Government assists States and Union Territories in maintaining communal harmony by sharing intelligence, alert messages and advisories on important developments with a bearing on communal amity. The Centre also assists on requests of States and Union Territories by sending Central Armed Police Forces including composite Rapid Action Force to quell communal incidents. In addition, Union Government’s Guidelines of 2008 lay down standard operating procedures to deal with situations arising out of communal violence. The Guidelines, both preventive and preemptive, are reiterated while sending advisories to States and Union Territories!
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