This May Day (2023) Goa’s Chief Minister, Pramod Savant claimed that 90 per cent of the crimes in Goa are committed by migrant labourers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other states. This is not the first time that politicians affiliated with Right-wing extremist politics made such claims against migrant labourers, especially from Bihar and UP. But such claims never stand with the annual reports of crimes committed across the country and documented by NCRB.
The most recent NCRB report collected the number of convicted and under-trial prisoners in different states in India. This report documented such numbers between 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2020. According to this report, there are a total of 105 convicted prisoners in different jails in Goa. Out of these 105 prisoners, only 34 are with a state of domicile other than Goa. They are migrants who either party or permanently settled in the state without having the domicile of the state. This accounts for only 32.38 per cent of total prisoners in Goa.
Apart from convicted prisoners, in the case of the proportion of under-trail prisoners in Goa, the number from states other than Goa is far below the claims made by Promod Savant. There are a total of 419 under trial prisoners in the state of Goa. Out of these 419, only 175 are those who don’t have domicile in Goa. Thus the proportion of under trail prisoners in Goa who are migrants in Goa is only 41.77 per cent. They don’t belong to only Bihar and Uttar Pradesh but they belong to 26 States and 8 Union Territories other than Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The difference in the proportion of convicted and under trail migrant prisoners in Goa shows embedded biases of Goa’s police, administration and state apparatuses. Due to these biases migrants are being implicated and arrested in false criminal cases in Goa but got released after the fair judicial trial.
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These biases against migrants in Goa are not limited to migrants from other states within India only. This bias reflects also in the difference between the proportion of convicted and under trail prisoners who belong to other countries living or visiting Goa. Out of a total of 105 convicted prisoners in Goa’s jails, there is only one prisoner who belongs outside India. This accounts for less than 1% of the total convicted prisoners in Goa. But out of a total of 419 under trail prisoners, there are 57 under-trial prisoners who belong to other countries. This accounts for around 13.60% of total under-trial prisoners.
Thus the conviction rate of international under-trial prisoners in Goa is just 1.75% and the conviction rate of migrant under-trial prisoners is 19.42 %. The conviction rate of prisoners who have a domicile in Goa is 37.42%. This clearly proves that the police and administration system in Goa is biased towards migrant from outside the state and implicate them in false criminal cases.
According to Goa’s CM, Pramod Savant, the total population of Goa is 15 lakh while around 60 lakh migrants come to Goa annually from other states of India. Apart from that he also claimed that around the same number of tourists also come to Goa. Though he is right about the total population of Goa according to the Indian census conducted in the year 2011, he is wrong about the number of migrants in the state of Goa. According to Indian Census 2011, the total number of migrants in Goa is around 11 lakh, which is far below the claim made by Goa’s CM.
Goa’s CM is not the only BJP leader who made such statements against the migrants and Goa is not the only BJP-ruled state where police and administration are biased against the migrants from other states, especially from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Gujarat and Maharashtra are the two prominent states known for hate and biases against migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The mass attack on Hindi-speaking migrants in Gujarat in October 2018 was the most recent in the past. The politics of hate against migrants is as old as the emergence of right-wing extremist politics in India. Shiv Sena under the leadership of Bala Saheb Thakare emerged as a prominent political force in Maharashtra by inciting hate against the migrants from South India, especially Andhra Pradesh in Maharashtra. These politics of hate against the migrants in Maharashtra shifted to Hindi-speaking migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. This continues to haunt the migrants from Bihar and UP in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The statement of Goa’s CM Pramod Savant cannot be taken into isolation. This is not the first time that Promod Savant made such claims. In 2019, after becoming Goa’s Chief Minister for the first time, he made a statement claiming that the population of native residents of Goa was declining while the population of migrants from other states are increasing and that led to the loss of jobs and businesses for the Goa’s natives.
The most recent attempt to instigate anti-migrant feelings and use the same politically was attempted in Tamil Nadu when a false video went viral claiming that the migrants from Bihar are being attacked in Tamil Nadu. History tells us that such statements against the migrants and especially migrants from Bihar and UP have always been politically embedded, motivated and manoeuvred.
The statement of Goa’s CM against the migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar should be taken into consideration and in association with the upcoming Lok Sabha election scheduled to be held next year. No BJP leaders have yet criticised the statement made by Promod Savant while both JD(U) and RJD criticised the statement and demanded action against Goa’s CM, Promod Savant.