The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the ministry of home affairs wing that collates annual data on crime in the country, came out with its figures for 2016 on November 30. While overall crime in the country has increased by 2.6 per ecnt - from 47,10,676 cases in 2015 to 48,31,515 cognisable crimes in 2016, other worrying trends too have come to light.
Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh remain the worst performers in most categories, with high rates of crimes against women, scheduled tribes (ST) and scheduled castes (SC).
Crimes against women have gone up, including cases of rape. Cyber crimes have registered a sharp increase of 6.3 per cent, from 11,592 in 2015 to 12,317 in 2016.
This year, the NCRB data included some firsts, such as a new chapter on “missing persons and children”, as ordered by the Supreme Court, and another new table on FICN (Fake Indian Currency Notes) cases.
HM Shri @rajnathsingh releases ‘Crime in India – 2016’, published by the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) at North Block in New Delhi pic.twitter.com/Tki5genxTV— HMO India (@HMOIndia) November 30, 2017
Data on 19 metropolitan cities (those with population of more than 2 million) have been included in the chapters on violent crimes, crime against women, crime against children, juveniles in conflict with law, crime against SC/STs, economic crimes, cybercrimes, crime against senior citizens and disposal of cases by police and court.
Crime against women
Cases under "crime against women" category reported an increase of 2.9 per cent in 2016 over 2015. Majority of these cases “cruelty by husband or his relatives” (32.6 per cent) followed by “assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty" (25.0 per cent), “kidnaping and abduction of women” (19.0 per cent) and “rape” (11.5 per cent)
Rape cases have reported an increase of 12.4 per cent from 34,651 cases in 2015 to 38,947 in 2016. Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh reported the highest incidence of rape with 4,882 (12.5 per cent) and 4,816 (12.4 per cent) respectively, followed by Maharashtra 4,189 (10.7 per cent) during 2016.
Uttar Pradesh reported 14.5 per cent (49,262) of the total cases of crimes against women followed by West Bengal (9.6 per cent) (32,513 cases), during 2016. Delhi reported the highest crime rate (160.4) compared to the national average rate of 55.2.
Crime rate is calculated as the incidents of crime per million population.
Crime against children
Crimes against children have gone up by a whopping 13 per cent, from 94,172 in 2015 to 1,06,958 in 2016. While kidnapping and abduction accounted for 52.3 per cent of the cases, cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) were at a worrying 34.4 per cent.
In these categories too, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are at the top, with 9,657 kidnapping and abduction cases in UP, 7,956 in Maharashtra and 6,016 in Madhya Pradesh.
Under POCSO, Uttar Pradesh was on the top with 4,954 cases, Maharashtra had 4,815 cases while Madhya Pradesh registered 4,717 cases.
Cases of juveniles in conflict with the law have gone up again after a dip of 13.1 per cent was registered in 2015 over 2014. In 2016, 35,849 such cases were registered, an increase of 7.2 per cent over the 33,433 cases of 2015.
Madhya Pradesh had the most number of juveniles in conflict with the law at 20.6 per cent (7,369), followed by 18.4 per cent in Maharashtra.
Atrocities/crime against SC-ST
Atrocities/crime against SCs went up by 5.5 per cent in 2016 (40,801) over 2015 (38,670).
Uttar Pradesh led the way here with 10,426, or 25.6 per cent cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes, (SCs) followed by Bihar with 14 per cent (5,701) and Rajasthan with 12.6 per cent (5,134).
Atrocities/Crime Against Scheduled Tribes also spiked by 4.7 per cent, (6,568 in 2016 over 6,276 in 2015.
Madhya Pradesh (1,823, or 27.8 per cent) reported the highest number of cases, followed by Rajasthan with 18.2 per cent (1,195 cases) and Odisha with 10.4 per cent (681 cases).
Cyber crime went up by 6.3 per cent in 2016 (12,317) over 2015 (11,592).
Uttar Pradesh (2,639 cases, 21.4 per cent) reported the most cases, followed by Maharashtra with 19.3 per cent (2,380 cases) and Karnataka with 8.9 per cent (1,101 cases).
As many as 8,132 cases of human trafficking were reported across India, with West Bengal at 3,579, accounting for nearly 44 per cent of the cases. Rajasthan (1,422) saw 17.9 per cent of all such cases reported.
Worryingly, of the 15,379 persons trafficked in the year, 58.7 per cent were children.
As many as 23,117 persons were rescued, of which children made up 61.3 per cent, including victims of previous year.
What ails MP, UP?
Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have recorded the maximum number of crimes in almost all the categories featured above. While their high population – UP is the most populous state in the country, MP the sixth most, according to Census 2011 – could be one of the reasons behind the high rate of crimes, it cannot be a defence.
Despite three consecutive terms of CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan for the past 12 years, Madhya Pradesh has reported a worrying rate of crime. Photo: India Today
Madhya Pradesh, especially, has had a "stable" government for long – chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan recently completed 12 years in office with three consecutive terms. However, such a high crime rate points to major administrative lapses.
Also, the nature of the crimes – the states lead in crimes against women, children, SC and STs – shows that the government has been unable to protect the weakest, the most vulnerable sections of society.
The most number of crimes against women are of cruelty by husband and his relatives, which is covered under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, often called the anti-dowry law.
After widespread complaints of the “misuse” of the section – offences registered under which are non-bailable – a division bench of the Supreme Court had on July 27 directed that no arrest or action be taken on such complaints without ensuring the veracity of the allegations.
However, on November 29, the court said it can’t frame guidelines on how to probe cases of dowry harassment as this would mean going beyond statutory provisions.
Also, contrary to the perception that “disgruntled wives” file false cases under Section 498A, data has found that complaints declared false on similar grounds are far higher in IPC cases such as cheating and kidnapping.
With the new figures coming in, the latest SC ruling will come as a relief for many women facing domestic violence and harassment over dowry.
Ravi Shankar Prasad might be wrong about trafficking
On November 7, counting the benefits of demonetisation, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that because of the move, “Flesh trade has nosedived in India. Trafficking of women and girls has gone down considerably.”
While Prasad even then had not revealed his source of information, the NCRB data does not seem to support his claim. In fact, it directly contradicts his public assertions. According to the NCRB, a total of 8,132 cases of human trafficking were reported in the country this year, while the figure for 2015 was far lower at 6,877 cases.
Will the law minister kindly explain where he got his figures for “women and girls” from?
Something is rotten about Delhi
Among the 19 metropolitan cities the NCRB recorded data for, Delhi reported 38.8 per cent of total IPC crimes followed by Bengaluru (8.9 per cent) and Mumbai (7.7 per cent). Chennai reported the highest number of cases of SLL (Special and Local Laws) crimes, which include offences under the Gambling Act, Information and Technology Act, Electricity Act etc.
Delhi City reported nearly 40 per cent of rape cases among metropolitan cities. Photo: Reuters
Delhi with 5,453 cases, reported almost half the number of cases of kidnapping and abduction (48.3 per cent) followed by Mumbai with 16.6 per cent (1,876 cases) and Bengaluru with 7.8 per cent (879 cases).
Delhi city reported 21.8 per cent, the highest number of murder cases followed by Bengaluru at 10.4 per cent and Patna at 8.9 per cent.
Delhi reported 33 per cent (13,803 out of 41,761cases) of all the cases of crimes against women followed by Mumbai (12.3 per cent). Delhi city reported nearly 40 per cent rape cases and nearly 29 per cent each of cruelty by husband and his relatives and dowry deaths.
While cyber crime has emerged as a major challenge facing law enforcement agencies in the country, women and children remain at risk. The police and the government, both at the state and the central level, have their parts to play, but these crimes will go down only when legal steps are accompanied with awareness drives to bring about a shift in the mentality of the society at large.