Students protest cases nearly doubled between 2014 and 2018, shows NCRB data

Kerala still continues to top list but Haryana, UP, Bihar, Himachal account for 40% incidents

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Friday 10 January 2020

Unrest has grown among India’s youth, data from 2018, released recently National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), showed.

Protests led by students nearly doubled between 2014 and 2018, and a lot of it moved to north Indian states.

Recent student-led protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, any proposed National Register of Citizens and the tabulation of National Population Registry, in several cities across India have made international headlines.

While these picked up steam in December 2019, students in several major universities and institutions have been protesting about issues such as steep hikes in fees and other charges, reduction of seats, cutback in stipends. Many have alleged partisanship by the government in key appointments.

While the broad contours of such movements are difficult to gauge from data, the NCRB’s Crime in India 2018 provided some context.

Kerala continued to lead the charts with 214 incidents of “rioting” by students alleged by the police under Sections 147-151 of the Indian Penal Code. Even in 2014, the state topped with 160 incidents.

The trend was broadly in line with overall protests in the state: Nearly 70 per cent of the 4,425 public protests — andolans / morcha in the NCRB report — in 2017 and 2018 were in the southern state. 

The state’s tally has pushed up the overall incidents rate led by students in the region. The southern states — Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana — recorded 70 per cent of such protests in 2014.

On the other hand, the north — Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh — accounted for only eight per cent of such incidents. But they leaped to 41 per cent in 2018.

Haryana recorded 76 incidents, to be second on the list, UP had 61 complaints, Bihar 57 and even a small state like Himachal notched up 15 cases, equal to a much bigger Karnataka. Among small states, Manipur too registered 12 incidents.

In 2014, Odisha placed second with 17 cases. That declined to four in 2018. 

The data showed that 2,195 cases against under-trial students were pending in courts. Of them, 1,746 were pending from earlier.

Such protests regularly highlight crucial issues of students’ rights, inclusive education, women’s empowerment, discrimination in higher education and concerns over employment. The government too has recognised the importance of such social action by the youth.

But perhaps the State needs to do more, in the light of the recent spurt in student activism. They indicate a failure by the Centre and the states in addressing the concerns of those in the 18-30 years age group.

Notably, the National Youth Policy, launched in February 2014, proposed a holistic ‘vision’ for the youth to help them achieve their full potential.

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