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In India, it is difficult to estimate or calculate the number of incidents of lynching in which death(s) have been caused or people have been injured.
India does not record “lynchings” or “mob violence” separately, but does record incidents of communal riots, promoting enmity between people on the grounds of religion, and communal incidents.
To fill in this gap, and to address a problem whose intensity is soaring only by the day, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is mulling on creating a database of lynching incidents, whether they are for the possession of prohibited meat (read beef), killing of cattle, or allegations of theft, child-kidnapping or witchcraft, the Indian Express has reported. The NCRB plans to collect country-wide data on lynching incidents annually, and record causes and analyse reasons as to why those incidents took place.
What encouraged the NCRB to embark upon this step is the BJP’s allegations that there were more lynching incidents during the UPA regime, but there is a gaping hole to this claim – there isn’t any reliable data to either substantiate or rebut.
According to the report, the NCRB is writing to various states to find out how they collect data at their end, and once a feasible method of data collection is in place, it plans to write to the Home Ministry for approval to create a new proforma in recording of crimes. Once such proforma is approved, incidents of lynching can be recorded and analysed with emphasis on accuracy and statistical rigour.
As data journalist Rukmini Srinivasan has written, there are structural problems with the collection and recording of data on offences like lynching. The first flaw is that the NCRB goes by the “principle offence rule”- that is, only the most heinous crime is recorded. So, if there is the case of a communalised murder, or murder after a gang rape, it gets registered only as a murder; all other attributes of the offence are made to fade into oblivion, Srinivasan writes, calling it a “fatal flaw”. She believes that once the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems) becomes active, the problem would be solved, because then every police station in the country would be logged in online and have to report and record crime data in real time.