White Paper: 6 riot cases a day a blip in Odisha’s law & order front

Spontaneous riots constitute half of the total riots. While factors like heated arguments, family disputes or previous enmity topped the riot list, political -triggered riots finished the second in State

Bhubaneswar: Even as the theme song of the White Paper on State’s Law and Order tabled in the State Assembly yesterday had been ‘All is well’, some red shoots were, however, to the fore that have big ramifications on law and order in Odisha.

Odisha witnessed nearly six riots every day in 2018. While the State had witnessed nearly seven riots a day in 2017, the rate was 5 a day in 2016. The State had recorded 2,120 riots in 2018, 2,470 riots in 2017 and 1,914 riots in 2016.

Significantly, while the White Paper laid in the House has simply mentioned total riots, the detailed data available with the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB) puts the true picture in perspective.

In Odisha, spontaneous riots constitute nearly half of the total riots in the State. And overwhelmingly, the cases are from rural Odisha.

Also, a massive around 93 per cent of the riot cases in the State were triggered by factors like family disputes, heated arguments and previous enmity. An analysis of the White Paper also shows land dispute as the second-most motive in the State to incite riots in rural areas.

An interesting facet, however, surfaced was political cause-triggered riots emerged as the second most riots cases in Odisha. What seems quite fascinating is, coinciding with the rural polls and general polls, the politically-triggered riots had seen a good spike in 2017 and 2018. The riots had mainly taken place in districts like Puri, Khurda, Ganjam, Bargarh and Keonjhar.

Another startling revelation was despite the State police launching a big clampdown over farmers’ protest march last year, riots over farm problems have emerged as a distant third in the State.

When riots are seen through the social prism, it does suggest at the growing intolerance in society at the individual level. Therefore, the lesser farm-led riots vis-a-vis the political riots tell a candid tale that political intolerance is on the ascent in Odisha.

Moreover, the riots owing to heated arguments, family disputes and previous enmity point to the height of intolerance at the individual level in the society in the State.

The triggering of riots over petty issues also reveal something very big. It indicates how people, especially rural, have no faith on the law and order machinery of the State.

The recent attack on Baliapal IIC by locals over delay in initiating probe stands a testimony that speaks about why the intolerance in rural mass is on the upsurge in Odisha.

The import of analysis reveals that the White Paper’s theme tune of ‘All is well’ is sitting precariously on a tectonic plate, which has the potential to trigger a ‘disorder’ quake.

The Reason: The State police could complete preliminary inquiry in a measly 44 per cent of the riot cases in 2018.