What’s the State of Law & Order in Mr Siddaramaiah’s Karnataka?” asks the headline of the article by The True Picture, the website that was enthusiastically shared by Union ministers a few days ago. With assembly election around the corner, it is a very relevant question and we are eager to see the conclusion that The True Picture has arrived at. Among other things, the article covers atrocities against Scheduled Castes and states that “Karnataka has a higher incidence of crimes committed against SCs than its neighboring states, which is a clear reflection of its safety record when it comes to Dalits and other marginalised sections of society”. It presents the following data to support its conclusion:

Screenshot from ‘The True Picture’ article.

Based on the data, the article concludes that “In the ongoing election campaign in Karnataka, Mr Siddaramaiah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi have kept harping on theirs being a model of inclusive growth. The incidence of atrocities against SCs shows that their model may not be so “inclusive” after all, not to mention the increase in crimes against women that our last article talked about.”

The data is extracted from NCRB’s Crime in India, 2016 publication and is accurate but does it present the true picture? Let us look at the questions that come to mind when looking at the data and the conclusion that the website presents to its readers. :

Why is data presented selectively for six states?

The article doesn’t present a complete picture of atrocities on Scheduled Castes (SC) across India. It selects only six states and cleverly states that the comparison is for ‘neighbouring states’. Even if we go by this logic, why is Andhra Pradesh, which is also a neighbouring state missing from the comparison? May be another neighbouring state Goa is missing due to its small size, but why does Gujarat make it to the list when it is not a neighbouring state? Why is the comparison only with neighbouring states? Is there anything to hide? Let us look at the full picture.

How does Karnataka rank among all states in terms of number of cases of atrocities against SC?

If we take all states into consideration (and not a handpicked group), Karnataka ranks #6 in terms of the number of cases of atrocities against SC. Interestingly, no mention of the top 5 was made by The True Picture.

Rank State Number of Cases of Atrocities against SC
1 Uttar Pradesh 10,426
2 Bihar 5,701
3 Rajasthan 5,134
4 Madhya Pradesh 4,922
5 Andhra Pradesh 2,335
6 Karnataka 1,869
7 Odisha 1,796
8 Maharashtra 1,750
9 Telangana 1,529
10 Gujarat 1,322
11 Tamil Nadu 1,291
12 Kerala 810

Source: NCRB 2016 Crime in India Report. Atrocities refers to Crimes committed against SCs by Non-SC/STs. Cases under only IPC (without SC/ST Act) have been excluded as those cases refers to Crime against SCs by SCs/STs.

How do states compare in terms of rate of crime against Scheduled Castes?

States vary in terms of population and it is not fair to look at the total number of cases alone. An Uttar Pradesh will always have higher number of cases as compared to say a Himachal Pradesh because of the sheer difference in the population of the two states. Hence to compare across states, we need to look at the rate of crime i.e. crime in terms of the population of Scheduled Castes in that state.

The picture completely changes when we look at it in terms of rate of crime. Out of the five states that were below Karnataka, three climb up in the ranking and Karnataka ends up at #11.

State Crime Rate of cognizable crimes against SC
1 Madhya Pradesh 43.4
2 Rajasthan 42.0
3 Goa 36.7
4 Bihar 34.4
5 Gujarat 32.5
6 Telangana 28.2
7 Andhra Pradesh 27.6
8 Kerala 26.6
9 Uttar Pradesh 25.2
10 Odisha 25.0
11 Karnataka 17.9
12 Maharashtra 13.2

Source: NCRB 2016 Crime in India Report. Atrocities refers to Crimes committed against SCs by Non-SC/STs. Cases under only IPC (without SC/ST Act) have been excluded as those cases refers to Crime against SCs by SCs/STs. Rate refers to crime incidence per 100,000 population of SC.

What is the situation over the years?

Let us look at the crime over the years to get a complete picture using the same states that the article had initially picked. Karnataka and Maharashtra have been almost flat in terms of the total numbers of crimes against SCs. There is neither significant improvement nor deterioration. Tamil Nadu has shown a decline after a spike in 2015. Telangana has shown an increase after a fall in 2015 but Gujarat has shown a 20.8% increase in crime against SCs between 2014 and 2016.

State 2014 2015 2016
Karnataka 1865 1852 1869
Maharashtra 1768 1804 1750
Telangana 1427 1293 1529
Gujarat 1094 1010 1322
Tamil Nadu 1494 1736 1291
Kerala 712 696 810

The True Picture falsely portrays Karnataka as the top state in terms of crimes against SCs by cherry picking statistics available from the NCRB and using parameters that help arrive at a convenient conclusion. A holistic reading of the data reveals that in terms of rate of crime i.e. by taking the Scheduled Castes population into account, Karnataka does not feature in the top 10 states. Insofar as crimes against Scheduled Castes in Karnataka are concerned, the rate of crime has been more or less static over the last two years. The article by True Picture is at the very least patently misleading if not disingenuous, which is ironical considering how the website has been zealously promoted as the last word on fact checking by Union Ministers and members of the BJP.