Jharkhand surpassed J& K in the number of sedition cases filed against individuals and was only behind Assam and J&K in incidents of charges leveled for ‘offences against the State’ in the year 2018, the latest report of Crime in India, recently released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has highlighted.
At least 18 incidents of sedition were reported in Jharkhand in 2018 – the highest in the country, the NCRB report said.
On the other hand, J& K – a State, now a Union Territory, infamous for presence of separatist forces – reported only 12 cases of sedition, the report added.
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with sedition, States, ‘Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards,
the Government established by law in India shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added,’ According to the NCRB report, as many as 20 incidents of offences against the State were reported in Jharkhand in year 2018, and 22 cases were reported in J&K in the same year.
While Jharkhand and J&K hardly share any topographical similarity or cultural proximity, the two places have had their share of insurgency. The cries of ‘Azadi (freedom)’ have reverberated in the valley since years now giving rise to rebellions. On the other hand, the former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Governments in Jharkhand have been battling Left Wing Extremism (LWE) with an iron fist.
The Pathalgadi movement in Jharkhand, which has its epicenter in Khunti, advocated the idea of having liberated lands in the interiors where the administration’s interventions were prohibited.
In 2017, villagers in parts of Khunti district held Pathalgadi –a practice of demarcating the borders of a village and declaring it as liberated land through writings on stone plaques – and allegedly prohibited entry of the administration in their villages. Soon after coming to power in the end of 2019, Chief Minister Hemant Soren announced that cases against Pathalgadi supporters will be scrapped.
As per the NCRB report, as many as 69 incidents of sedition were reported in India in 2018, and 47 of them were reported from Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir and Assam together. A total of 17 cases were reported in Assam – another State battling insurgency, illegal immigrants and lack of development. Assam also had the highest number of individuals accused of offences against the state.
The total number of sedition cases in India has increased by almost 50 per cent from 2017 to 2018, the NCRB report said. In 2017, as many as 51 cases of sedition were reported in the country. The number of sedition cases has witnessed a steep increase. In 2015, a total of 30 sedition cases were filed in India and the number increased to 35 in 2016.
Jharkhand witnessed only one case of sedition in 2017, which means that the number of cases has increased 18 times in a year. Assam topped the list in 2017 with 19 cases of sedition, last year’s NCRB report said.