When the National Crime Records Bureau on Monday finally released data for 2017, the report contained a chapter that had not been included in previous years: “Crime Committed by Anti-National Elements”.
The chapter lists three kinds of “anti-national elements”: North East insurgents, Naxalites or Left Wing Extremists, and “Terrorists (including Jihadi Terrorists)”.
The terms “anti national elements” and “jihadi terrorists” are not defined in the report.
Currently, the Home Ministry publishes a list of terrorist organisations designated as such under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. People belonging to these organisations are designated as terrorists. The word “jihad” does not find mention in the Act or in the Home Ministry’s annual reports.
It was, however, used by the Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy, in a speech organised by the National Investigation Agency, on October 15. Reddy said that Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism and jihadi terrorism were the biggest external security challenge for the country.
An unexplained delay
The bureau said that the release of the report was delayed because some states had not sent in their data. The Indian Express reported that crime statistics report for 2017 was originally to have contained data about mob lynchings, murders by influential people, killings ordered by khap panchayats and murders committed for religious reasons. Collecting this information took some time, the newspaper said.
But as it turns out, the final report did not include data about these crimes.
“It is surprising that this data has not been published,” an unidentified official told the Express. “This data was ready and fully compiled and analysed. Only the top brass would know the reason why it has not been published.”
The report lists the crimes committed by North East insurgents, Naxalites and terrorists under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and laws such as the Arms Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
The data for “jihadi terrorists” was included within the data for “terrorists” and not given separately.
There were 377 cases booked in 2017 against terrorists, almost all in Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur. There were 34 cases of murder and 18 attempted murders by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. There were also 62 cases booked under the Arms Act and 40 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the erstwhile state.
However, Manipur topped the list for terrorist activity with 185 cases booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
The largest number of crime cases booked against North East insurgents was in Manipur. The state also recorded two instances of murder by insurgents. Twenty one people were booked under the Arms Act in Nagaland, Manipur and Assam.
Chhattisgarh was most affected by left wing extremism, with 492 of the total 652 cases listed in the category across India being booked in the state. Seventy two of those cases were for murder and 230 for attempted murder.
Eighty four Naxalites were booked in Manipur under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
A changing lexicon
The term “anti-national” has been increasingly used in India in recent years, especially since the arrests of student leaders of Jawaharlal Nehru University early in 2016. It is a term used frequently by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to describe those who disagree with them. It has also come to mean anyone deemed insufficiently patriotic by the Bharatiya Janata Party and its supporters.
There has been no reason given for the inclusion of the new chapter on “Anti-National Elements” in the country’s official crime statistics. Also inexplicable is the category of “jihadi terrorism” within it.
Why are some people being classified as jihadi terrorists? How are their crimes different from those committed by other terrorists? What is the necessity for such a classification? These are questions the report does not answer.