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The hotspot of communal violence in India is not where you think it is


Incidents of communal violence increased this year compared to 2014, according to numbers from the Home Ministry. Adjusted for population, Karnataka saw the highest level of such incidents, while Madhya Pradesh showed the highest growth over 2014.

Total number of such incidents are on track for a 15-20% jump in 2015 compared to last year, according to the numbers.

In the first ten months alone, India saw 650 incidents of communal violence, compared to 644 for the whole of last year.

However, the trends also show strong regional variations, with nine states accounting for 609 out of the 650 incidents, while the remaining 20 states and 9 union territories accounted for just 41 such incidents.

The hospot of such violence lies in center of the country — Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. The frequency of such incidents tend to reduce as one moves from the center to the north, south, west and east.

In overall terms, the biggest contributor to the tally is Uttar Pradesh.

The state, which accounts for 17% of India’s population, accounted for over 21% of such incidents, translating to about 8 such incidents per year per 10 mln of population. However, UP’s numbers do not look as bad when compared to others like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.

In overall numbers, UP is followed by Maharashtra, which has a higher rate of such violence when adjusted for population.

The state reported 97 incidents for the first ten months, implying a rate of 10 such incidents on an annualized basis for 10 mln of population. Last year, the number was around 6.5. Both states are on track to report an increase of around 20% — if current trends hold — for the full year.


However, the above two states are overtaken by Madhya Pradesh in terms of incidents per 10 mln. The central state, which has a population of around 7.5 cr, reported 86 such incidents in the first ten months of this year. In comparison, UP — with a population of around 21 cr — reported 139 and Maharashtra, with a population of 11.7 cr, reported 97.

On a annualized, per-capita basis, therefore, Madhya Pradesh’s rate comes to 13.75 incidents per 10 mln population per year.

Madhya Pradesh’s crime record is also notable for the steep increase seen in the total numbers this year. For the first ten months, the state reported 86 incidents of communal violence, which is a jump of 56% on the full-year number for 2014. With two months left to go, the percentage would rise further.

However, Madhya Pradesh is not the state with the highest rate of communal incidents.

In overall terms, Karnataka reported the fourth highest number of such incidents, with a total of 79 incidents for 10 months (up from 73 for the full year of 2014).

Though Karnataka’s total is slightly below Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka has a population of only 6.5 cr, which therefore implies an annualized rate of 14.5 per 10 mln population per year.

In comparison, Bihar — which is often termed a ‘lawless state’ in comparison to southern states like Karnataka — is on track to report a communal violence rate of just 6.7 incidents per 10 mln population per year — half that of Karnataka.

Surprisingly, while the trend is towards an increase in the heartland states, two key western states — Gujarat and Rajasthan — reported a steep fall in such incidents. Rajasthan is on track to report a double-digit decline, while Gujarat is likely to see a 25-30% drop.


The lowest incidents of such violence in India is reported from Punjab, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh in the north and from the North Eastern states. Three southern states — Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala — also report low prevalence.

While the relative absence of communal violence in states like Goa and Kerala may not be surprising, it is Punjab which emerges on top as far as communal harmony is concerned.

The state, despite being in the ‘north belt’, has reported zero incidents of communal violence for both 2014 and 2014.

Tribal-dominated Odisha and Chhattisgarh also reported negligible levels of such happenings. Assam, despite problems of illegal immigration, reported only 2 such events for the first ten months of this year.

 20142015 (10 months)
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