New Delhi: In April 2021, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath called for action under the National Security Act and the Gangsters Act against anti-social elements who spread rumours and fake news on social media. He certainly had merits for the same as in the calendar year 2020. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there has been a sharp increase in such cases by a whopping 214 per cent as against the figures of 2019.
In 2020, UP recorded 166 cases, but much lower than two southern states of Telangana with 273 cases (tops the list) and 188 such cases in Tamil Nadu. In 2020, NCRB data shows a total of 1,527 cases of fake news were recorded against only 486 cases in 2019.
In 2018, there were 280 cases recorded across the country.
Hyderabad tops the list of cities with 208 cases among the cities and state capitals, followed by Chennai (42) and Delhi (30).
Some NCRB Data throw an interesting light on the state of crime affairs in the country.
The cases of 'all sorts of crimes' against women in Meghalaya stood as the highest among the peer states of the Northeastern region. Curiously, the state of Meghalaya is a hub of distinct tribes of Khashis, Jaintias and Garos – all following 'matrilineal' where women are 'supreme' in terms of inheritance law and marriages.
From Meghalaya, 568 crimes against women were reported in 2020, which is much higher than the states with similar populations and sizes like Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
Only Assam and Tripura in the region have bigger populations and have reported more such crimes in 2020.
The report said that the number of crimes against women in Meghalaya has also increased from 558 in the previous year. Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura have reported a lesser number of such crimes in the same period.
Of course, in the region, the highest number of crimes against women was reported from Assam (26,352) in 2020, followed by Tripura (874), Meghalaya (568), Arunachal Pradesh (281), Manipur (247), Mizoram (172), Sikkim (140) and Nagaland (39).
IPC Section 505, a broad provision relating to "statements conducing to public mischief," punishes acts of rumour-mongering and circulation of false news. It says, whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement or report containing rumour or alarming news with intent to create or promote "feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities" shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Interestingly, the NCRB report states, "The genesis of crime can be traced to the interplay of various social, economic, demographic, local and institutional factors. The presumption that crime occurs because of the failures of police therefore displays a complete lack of understanding of the theories of criminal behavior."
Uttar Pradesh was the only major state to record an increase in the category of 'Crime against the State', mostly because of the large number of 'Damage to Public Property' cases registered by the state, many of them during the anti- CAA protests.
The 'Crime in India' data released by the National Crime Records Bureau shows that communal riots registered an increase of 96% in 2020 over the previous year.
Similarly, caste riots saw an increase of close to 50%, agrarian riots 38% and riots during 'andolan/morcha' increased by 33%.