Status of Policing in India Report 2020-21 (Volume I): Policing in Conflict-Affected Regions


This report was published on April 19, 2021, by Common Cause, which works on governance reforms, and Lokniti, a research programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies – both based in Delhi. It is the third Status of Policing in India Report; the first was released in 2018. Volume I of the 2020-21 report contains information on policing in India’s conflict-affected regions, whereas Volume II focuses on the Covid-19 pandemic.

This first volume contains the results of a survey of 6,881 people – 2,276 police personnel and 4,605 civilians – conducted in 27 districts across 11 states: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir, and Tripura. Using government and other data, the report studies areas affected by violence due to left wing extremism, insurgency in the northeastern states, as well as militancy in the case of Jammu and Kashmir.

The survey indicates that the public is generally satisfied with the working of the police. But there exist region-specific issues, such as the fear of assault by the police or conflict groups, or being falsely implicated in cases related to such groups. Interviews of police personnel brought out common issues of understaffing and inadequate infrastructure. Personnel from conflict-affected regions also reported feeling unsafe. Many respondents – police and civilian – said they were sympathetic to the demands of the conflict groups, but not towards their violence.

The 176-page publication has nine chapters: An Analysis of Official Data on Conflict States (Chapter 1); Attitudes towards Conflict and Conflict-groups (Chapter 2); Controlling the Conflict: Challenges in Policing (Chapter 3); Relationship between the Police and the People in Conflict Regions (Chapter 4); Perceptions about Police vis-à-vis Paramilitary Forces or the Army (Chapter 5); Posting to a Conflict Region: Opinions of Police and Common People (Chapter 6); General Policing amid Conflict (Chapter 7); Ensuring Better Policing: The Way Forward (Chapter 8) and Summing up (Chapter 9).


  1. Between 2015 and 2019, an average of 236.7 cognisable offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were committed for every one lakh people in India – based on data from the National Crime Records Bureau. Roughly 145.5 offences were recorded per lakh of the population under the Special and Local Laws (SSL). In the 11 states surveyed, the average rate per lakh population was 206.9 for IPC and 55.4 for SSL offences.

  2. Among the 11 conflict-affected states, the highest rates of IPC offences were reported in Assam (328.2 per lakh people) and Telangana (306.9 per lakh people). The lowest rates were recorded in Nagaland and Manipur – 53.2 and 117.1 offences per lakh of the population.

  3. Chhattisgarh and Odisha reported the highest rates of SSL offences per lakh of the population – 289.2 and 51.8 respectively – among the surveyed states. The lowest ranking states were Tripura (10.4 offences for every one lakh people) and Assam (19 offences for every one lakh people).

  4. The report notes that the overall crime rates in conflict-affected areas are low but occurrences of violent crimes such as murder and kidnappings are higher than the national average. From 2015 to 2019, India reported an average of 2.3 murders for every one lakh people, 6.9 cases of ‘grievous hurt’, and 7.4 kidnappings and abductions. In the 11 conflict-affected states, the rate per lakh of the population was 2.9 for murders, 8.6 for grievous injuries and 7.4 for kidnappings. The murder rates in Naxal- and insurgency-affected states were 2.9 and 3.4 for every one lakh people.

  5. Most civilians surveyed considered the reason for Naxal or insurgent presence in their areas to be inequality or exploitation (14 per cent), followed by causes related to poverty (13 per cent), unemployment (11 per cent), education (five per cent), corruption (four per cent) as well as land and identity (three per cent). About 37 per cent of those surveyed chose not to respond.

  6. About 46 per cent of the surveyed civilians and 43 per cent of police personnel reported considering the demands of conflict groups as genuine, but thought their violent methods were incorrect. This was echoed by roughly 42 per cent of the Scheduled Caste (SC) and half of the Scheduled Tribe (ST) respondents.

  7. Roughly 59 per cent of respondents reported that conflict groups – like any other person or entity – should be punished for their crimes. A fifth of those surveyed were of the opinion that such groups should not be punished as their intentions are to improve the lives of people, and 21 per cent chose not to respond.

  8. Majority of the police personnel (75 per cent) and civilians (66 per cent) agreed that Naxalites and insurgents should be given fair legal trials. About 21 per cent of police personnel and 19 per cent of others stated that killing dangerous individuals in some cases is more effective ‘for the greater good of society’. The rest chose not to respond.

  9. Among those surveyed, 59 per cent of the common people and half of the police personnel agreed that human rights should not be overlooked in the name of national security.

  10. Three in five police personnel reported that laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and the National Security Act, 1980, are important for controlling Naxal, insurgent and militant activities. Nearly a fifth said that the laws were harsh and should be repealed. About 26 per cent of civilians were aware of these laws. Among them, 49 per cent were in favour of the laws and 46 per cent opposed them.

  11. The report states that one in four people believed Adivasis were more likely than others to be falsely implicated under Naxalism or insurgency charges.

  12. Around 54 per cent of civilians said they would contact the police when faced with threats from Naxalites or insurgents as opposed to the paramilitary or army.

  13. Most civilians (90 per cent) considered their areas to be safe places to live in. Respondents from ST communities were less likely to hold this view than others.

  14. Majority of those surveyed – 91 per cent of police personnel and 81 per cent of common people – agreed that development initiatives and better facilities in their areas would help reduce conflict activities. Many from the police believed that better education and employment opportunities, as well as reducing socio-economic inequalities, would lessen the incidence of conflicts in these areas.

  15. Over a third of the police personnel considered themselves accountable to the public for their actions. Roughly 32 per cent of common people held the same view.

    Focus and Factoids by Kislay Pradhan.


Common Cause, New Delhi; Lokniti, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi


Common Cause, New Delhi; Lokniti, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi


19 Apr, 2021