NEW DELHI: One of the most eagerly anticipated categories of crimes, fake news, has made its debut in the official records with as many as 257 entries. According to the latest report of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for the year 2017, Madhya Pradesh reported maximum cases (138) of circulating false messages, followed by Uttar Pradesh (32) and Kerala (18).
Interestingly, Jammu and Kashimr, where communication services stand severely curtailed for fear of ‘fake news’ and security reasons since abrogation of provisions of Article 370 in August, recorded only four cases of circulating false messages in 2017.
This is the first time that government has compiled data on such crimes under section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which entails punishment for those “who incite any class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community”. The crimes have been categorised under Section 505 IPC read with the Information Technology Act. While NCRB data provides insight into crime patterns of the country, it is important to note that the statistics is only the number of officially reported cases for the said year.
While the new category of circulating ‘false news/rumours’ has made it to the official records, cases of lynching and khap crimes have not been published in the latest report. This newspaper had first reported on November 21, 2018 that the NCRB was collecting data on “crimes committed by khap panchayats” in the year 2017. However, said that statistics on khap crimes and lynching will be published in the next NCRB report that will give details of crimes committed in the year 2018.
According to the NCRB, as many as 11 states reported no incident of circulation of false news/ rumours. The list of such states include Jharkhand and Haryana, where reportedly people have been killed due to circulation of false rumours pertaining to child-lifting, cattle smuggling etc.
No juveniles were apprehended for circulating false rumours. In 17 cases, police said they were true but there was insufficient evidence in the matter. Total 354 cases of fake news were awaiting trial in 2017 of which 168 cases were pending trial from the previous year.