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NCRB to collect data on attacks on journalists, whistle-blowers, RTI activists

NCRB has circulated a new template to the states, to collect data from police stations

Nitin Sethi  |  New Delhi 

The Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), for the first time, will begin collecting data from across the country on attacks on Right to Information (RTI) activists, journalists, and But the manner in which the data is being collected is likely to lead to under-reporting of the cases in the government database.

has circulated a new template to the states, to collect data from police stations. The data is compiled annually into Crime in India reports. The new template marks out three separate categories under which the data would be collected - attack on media persons, attack on and attack on RTI/

With the news of attacks against and pouring in from across the country, this could be the first government database of such crimes. However, the database will record only in cases of 'grievous hurt of varying degrees', covered by Sections 325, 326, 326A and 326B of the Indian Penal Code.

In case an activist or media person dies in such an attack, the police records and the database would only capture it as one among other deaths; no separate classification is available for such a case. There are also other questions about the loopholes that the new template leaves open in the data collection process. "Will a first-time user of RTI who is attacked and survives be treated as an RTI / social activist is a moot question. The recent instance of the alleged murder of an RTI user who filed his first RTI application to inquire about police action against a suspected bootlegger in Gujarat might not even qualify for inclusion in this category," said Venkatesh Nayak, programme coordinator, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

The identification of a whistleblower, too, would remain contentious especially with the Centre pushing amendments to the Whistleblowers Protection Act. The Lok Sabha passed the amendments in the last session. The Rajya Sabha's approval is pending. An source told Business Standard on condition of anonymity, "The template has been revised, but the matter of how these individuals are identified and classified is in different statutory provisions." Nayak said, "The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders provides a comprehensive list of such activists who work for accountability and social justice. These categories must be incorporated in the guidelines to capture all instances of attacks on individuals who are engaged in such activities." The data captured by the through this new template will be reflected in the report for 2015 published in 2016.

First Published: Thu, July 23 2015. 00:35 IST