New Delhi: Hate crimes in India have risen by 41 per cent since 2014, with Uttar Pradesh topping the charts and 15 other states registering phenomenal growth, the central government has said without explaining the reasons behind the spurt in communal crimes.

Replying to a question in Parliament, the government Wednesday said 444 cases under Section 153 A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) were reported across the country in 2016 against 378 cases in 2015 and 323 in 2014.

In India, offences of “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc”, are punishable with maximum imprisonment of five years and a fine under Section 153 A of IPC.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir gave the data in response to a question on the rise in the number of mob lynchings in the country in the name of cow vigilantism.

“The data on offences committed to promote enmity between different groups on basis of religion, race, place of birth etc is available with the government. However, there is no data on number of cow vigilantes in the country,” he said.

The data shows there was an increase of 17.46 per cent of such cases in 2016 over 2015 and 17.02 per cent in 2015 over 2014. Broken down by state, Uttar Pradesh tops the list by a wide margin. In 2014, the number of hate crimes in the state was 26. That year, Uttar Pradesh ranked below Kerala, which had 65 hate crimes, while Karnataka had 46 and Rajasthan notched 39.

In 2015, UP recorded 60 hate crimes — an increase of 130 per cent. The number rose to 116 in 2016, a jump of 93 per cent.

Between 2014 and 2016, Uttar Pradesh is followed by West Bengal, which has seen a nearly 200 per cent increase in communal crimes.

During that period, Uttar Pradesh ranked top, with 202 cases, followed by Kerala with 140, Karnataka with 114, and Telangana with 103.

Maharashtra recorded 96 cases, Tamil Nadu had 89 and West Bengal reported 86 cases. Rajasthan had 81 cases, and Andhra Pradesh saw 61 cases and Gujarat with 32 cases.

Other states that joined the list include Meghalaya (zero in 2014 to four in 2016), Arunachal Pradesh (zero in 2014 to one in 2016) and Assam (zero in 2014 to one in 2016).