What Crime Data Reveals, Conceals

Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital – what American professor Aaron Levenstein, who died of cancer 32 years ago, said about data may be very apt for the ‘Crime in India 2016’ report released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) late last month. As usual, newspaper headlines screamed crime capital and rape capital while reporting it. The data spread over 742 pages was interpreted – justified and opposed – by political leadership, policy makers and policemen to their own convenience. One set argued that a rise in crime graph is due to a robust crime reporting system while the other pointed to the lacunae in policing arising out of political interference or abject failure in tackling law and order.

Overall, 48.31 lakh cognizable crimes, including 29.75 lakh registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), were reported in 2016 recording an increase of 2.6%. The overall crime rate (per lakh population) increased to 379.3 from 374.1 in 2015 and 367.5 in 2014. The number of murders declined while kidnapping and rape cases were on the rise. When it comes to murder, the numbers declined to 30,450 from 32,127 cases in 2015 and 33,981 in 2014. Rape cases saw an increase to 38,947 cases from 34,651 in 2015 and 36,735 in 2014. A total of 88,008 cases of kidnapping/abduction were reported last year, which is an increase from 82,999 cases reported in 2015 and 77,237 in 2014.

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The nature of crimes reflect the society where one lives. While India hopes to leap towards a new high, we still have more than a lakh cases registered by women against their spouses and in-laws for cruelty. There is an increase in dowry deaths. More girls below the age of six years were kidnapped for marriage. Child marriage cases were also on the rise. Sexual assault of minors were another area of concern. Last year, 3.4 lakh cases of crimes against women were registered, which includes around 32% of domestic violence, 25% sexual harassment and 11.5% rape. When it comes to crime against children, there were 1.1 lakh cases, of which almost 80% of them are rapes.

These numbers itself are alarming but activists suggest that these could be just a tip of iceberg as a large number of cases go unreported or police refuse to file First Information Reports (FIRs). They say that there is no political will to tackle it. Reflecting on this, CPI(M) mouthpiece People’s Democracy lamented in an editorial, “victim shaming encourages silence and acceptance on the part of the victim which is further compounded because of the lack of social and infrastructural support. Statements by political leaders blaming women for the violence against them with comments about their clothes, their movements and their friends are pillorising and shaming the victim which only encourages crime.”

While a zero-crime society is a ‘Utopia’, the data points to a serious and still unresolved issue when it comes to tackling crime. Ensuring punishment to the perpetrators always act as a deterrent to criminals, law enforcement officials, policy makers and academicians always say. A reading of the NCRB report, however, show that India faces an uphill task when it comes to police investigation and trial. Our investigators are yet to solve 12.41 lakh cases registered under IPC. The pendency of cases under Special and Local Laws (SLL) like Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is pegged at 35.38 lakh. The pendency rate as on December 2016 in murder cases is 41.2% while it is 40.5% in human trafficking, 40.2% in 35.5% in theft cases and 32.7% in dowry cases among others. An analysis of Crime in India reports from 2005 shows Indians lost property worth around Rs 85,000 crore to thieves but police managed to recover only articles worth Rs 14,124.39 crore.

At courts, there are around 1.25 crore cases 87.4% of IPC cases and 83.7% of SLL cases are pending trial. Of the cases disposed off by the courts, the conviction rate is at a dismal 46.8% (5.96 lakh) of 12.74 lakh IPC cases for which trial was completed. When it comes to SLL cases, the conviction rate is better at 73.4%. The conviction rate for murder is 38.5%, rape 25.5% and kidnapping 20.8%.

Why is it so? Political and police leadership need to take responsibility and need to answer it too. Police forces are heavily under-staffed and personnel always complain of being over-worked. The Data on Police Organisations prepared by Bureau of Police Research and Development says vacancies in state police forces run up to 21.8%. The vacancies among Constables and Head Constables alone account for 81% of the total vacancies. India does not have enough men to police the streets. It has just 151 men for one lakh population when when the standard set by United Nations is way above at 220 police per lakh population.

The vacancies have added to the burden of police as personnel are forced to work without a break and affecting the efficiency in policing. A government-sponsored study had earlier said that 75% per cent of police personnel claim they rarely manage to get a weekly off while Inspectors acknowledge that their subordinates work more than 11 hours a day. This raises the question how an under-staffed police properly investigate a case. On top of it, personnel are not trained in the latest developments in investigation techniques. Preparation of chargesheet, that becomes the foundation for cases in courts, are also in several cases badly prepared. The lacunae in chargesheets had attracted the ire of courts several times.

What to do? A recent NITI Ayog-sponsored study says a review of the police governance framework, the legal set-up, the issues ailing the police force – all call from making police reforms one of the greatest priority for the country. Government need to recruit more and train police personnel. It needs to implement the recommendations of numerous reports on police reforms, which are carrying dust in the cup boards of Ministry of Home Affairs.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald’s Panorama section on Dec 9, 2017)

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Rise in farmers’ protests show increasing agrarian distress

Instances of farmers taking to streets and clashing with police have risen by almost eight times last year compared to 2014, in what could provide more evidence to growing agrarian distress in the country.

Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka topped the list as latest figures released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed that cases of rioting due to agrarian issues rose to 4,837 from 628 in 2014 and 2,683 in 2015.

The extent of rising anger among farmers could be gauged from the sharp rise in street protests in the past two years, some of which ended in police firing.

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In 2016, Bihar reported the highest number of such cases with 2,342, almost half of the total cases last year, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 1,709. Karnataka finished a distant third with 231 cases.

Bihar, which was on top of the list for the past three years, recorded only 243 incidents in 2014 but it rose sharply the next year to touch 1,156. The numbers doubled in 2016, according to the ‘Crime in India 2016’ report.

Uttar Pradesh recorded 92 cases in 2014 and 752 in 2015 while Karnataka reported 73 and 52 respectively. For Karnataka, the 2016 figure was a five-time increase compared to 2015.

**********************************************************************

2016

2015

2014

Bihar

2,342

1,156

243

Uttar Pradesh

1,709

752

92

Karnataka

231

52

73

Total (All India)

4,837

2,683

628

 **********************************************************************

Activists attribute the rise in such cases to deepening agrarian crisis in the country where they are not getting enough price for their produce and burdening loans.

Protests against acquisition of agricultural land and inadequate compensation for failed crops among others also add to such cases. They also point to the rising number of farmers’ suicide — from 5,650 incidents in 2014 to 8,007 in 2015 – to buttress their point. Figures for 2016 are not available.

All India Kisan Sabha Joint Secretary Vijoo Krishnan told DH, “police unleash brute force against peaceful protests. Rioting has a negative connotation and farmers are now branded as rioters. But one has to understand that they hit the streets due to unresponsive governments.”

He said these figures do not reflect the actual number of protests because in many instances, police do not register cases as it would be embarrassing for the governments. “They were more number of protests,” Krishnan said adding a large number of protests were held in bigger states like Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand among others.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 4, 2017)

Cheats are getting smarter as police remain lax

Bengaloreans are among the top three when it comes to falling victims to cheats but the wait for getting justice remain awfully painful.

The south Indian city, which boasts of being the country’s silicon valley, has clocked 3,309 cases of cheating last year, earning the third spot after Delhi (4,957) and Jaipur (4,596) among 19 metros with a population above 20 lakh.

Of this, Bengaluru has 29 cases where the loss of property due to cheating is over Rs one crore while the rest of Karnataka reported just nine cases. If one takes all economic offences, Bengaluru with 3,505 cases is ranked fourth behind Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai.

In 19 metros, out of four specified category of economic offences — criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery and counterfeiting — maximum cases were reported under cheating (25,658 cases) accounting for 83.5% during 2016. Across the country, cheating accounted for maximum such cases, with 1,09,611 cases, followed by criminal breach of trust (18,708 cases) and forgery (13,729 cases).

However, one of the worrying sign for the victims of economic crimes is the pace of investigation and trial. The ‘Crime in India 2016’ shows that 58.3% of economic crimes registered in Bengaluru are still pending with police.

Investigators were saddled with 7,166 such cases last year after adding 3,661 pending from 2015. Of this, 2,987 were disposed off by police in 2016 leaving the pending cases at 4,179.

Bengaluru’s pendency with regard to police investigation is one of the highest. Only Chennai (77.7%), Mumbai (77.1%), Delhi (75.1%) and Pune (63.3%) are ahead of Bengaluru in pendency.

If one takes cheating cases across the country, 59.2% (34,321) of 57,866 cases are pending investigation. When it comes to courts, 95.7% of cheating cases across the country is pending. Only 3,299 of 75,873 cheating cases were disposed off by courts last year.

No specific data on pending cheating cases for metros are given in the report released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 2, 2017)

Murders down, rapes and kidnapping up

Murders in India are coming down but rapes and kidnapping cases are surging, if one goes by latest statistics on crime in the country.

Overall, crimes under Indian Penal Code has increased by 0.9% from 29.49 lakh ion 2015 to to 29.75 lakh last year. Uttar Pradesh has recorded the highest number of heinous crimes such as murder and those against women last year.

According to the ‘Crime in India 2016’ by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 30,450 cases of murder were reported last year, a decline from 32,127 cases in 2015 and 33,981 in 2014.

Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of murder 4,889 followed by Bihar where 2,581 murders took place. Maharashtra recorded 2,299 cases while Karnataka had 1,573 cases, which is a marginal increase from 1,557 in 2015.

Personal vendetta or enmity (5,179 cases) was the motive in highest number of murder cases followed by property dispute (3,424 cases) and gain (2,270 cases). In Karnataka too, personal vendetta was the main reason for murders.

In crime against women, there was an increase from 3.29 lakh cases in 2015 to 3.38 cases last year. The year 2015 saw a dip from 3.39 lakh cases in 2014 and 3.37 lakh in 2013.

Rape cases saw an increase to 38,947 cases from 34,651 in 2015 and 36,735 in 2014. Madhya Pradesh with 4,882 cases topped the list followed by UP (4,816) and Maharashtra (4,189). Of the rape cases reported last year, 2,167 cases were gang rapes. Karnataka had recorded 1,655 rape cases last year, including 20 gang rapes.

A total of 88,008 cases of kidnapping/abduction were reported last year, which is an increase from 82,999 cases reported in 2015 and 77,237 in 2014. UP had the highest number of 15,898 cases followed by Maharashtra (9,333) and Bihar (7,324).

Of the 89,875 victims, 66,525 were women. Of these 16,938 victims were kidnapped for marriage and only one man figured in it.

A total of 37,37,870 people were arrested last yearfor various crimes while a total of 32,71,262 people were chargesheeted, 7,94,616 were convicted and 11,48,824 people were acquitted or discharged.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 1, 2017)

Bengaluru pips Mumbai to become 2nd-most crime prone metro

Bengaloreans have reasons to worry — the silicon city of India has now surpassed Mumbai to become the second-most crime prone metro in the country.

This is when Mumbai, where the underworld too run their own show, has reported a decline in number of criminal incidents at a time Bengaluru has a rise in numbers.

The ‘Crime in India 2016’ report also show that Bengaluru is only second to Delhi among 19 metros having a population of more than 20 lakh in cases of murder and dowry deaths among others.

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Bengaluru has reported 45,797 crime cases registered under Indian Penal Code in 2016 while the topper Delhi has 1.99 lakh and Mumbai 39,617, according to the report prepared by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and released on Thursday.

The Karnataka capital has been reporting a sharp increase in crimes the past few years. While it was 31,892 cases in 2014, it rose to 35,576 cases in 2015. Last year’s figure for Bengaluru is an increase of 10,221 while Mumbai has registered a decline of 3,323 cases.

While police officials tend to attribute the rise in numbers to better registration of cases, citizens believe that there is not much change in the ground.

It is again not Mumbai or any other metro but Bengaluru which is second when it comes to murder. Delhi (479 cases) reported the highest number of murders followed by Bengaluru with (229 cases) and Patna with (195 cases). Mumbai had 147 such cases.

The city also figures in top-five in cases of rapes. While Bengaluru reported 321 rapes, Delhi had the highest at 1,996 followed by Mumbai (712), Pune (354) and Jaipur (330).

According to the report, Delhi (5,453 cases) reported the highest number of cases of kidnapping and abduction while Mumbai had 1,876 and Bengaluru 879 such cases.

On cases under offence against public tranquillity, which included rioting, promoting enmity among groups and others, Bengaluru (491 cases) was second behind Patna (565) while Chennai (547) was at third.

Minors in Bengaluru were also among the most targeted as the city ranked third with 1,333 cases of crime against children after Delhi (7,392) and Mumbai (3,400).

Thieves and robbers also appear to have a free run in this city if one goes by the statistics. Of the 2.60 lakh cases reported under offences against property, theft cases accounted for 1.94 lakh. Maximum of theft cases occurred in Delhi (1.26,467) followed by Bengaluru (10,578) and Mumbai (9,839).

One’s vehicles are also not safe in Delhi and Bengaluru compared to other metros.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 1, 2017)

Indians lost articles worth Rs 85k cr in 11 years, recovery just Rs 9,733 cr

Indians have lost property worth around Rs 84,972.78 crore to thieves since 2005 of which Rs 9,733.10 crore came in last year, according to latest crime figures.

Statistics show that police is very lax in recovery as only articles worth Rs 14,124.39 were recovered in these years.

The ‘Crime in India 2016’ by National Crime Records Bureau showed that in 2016, only 15% of the stolen articles worth Rs 1,459 crore was recovered.

In 2015, property worth Rs 8,210.4 crore was stolen but the recovery was that of only Rs 1,350 crore, which comes to a recovery rate of just 16.4 per cent.

Theives stole articles worth Rs 276.6 crore in Karnataka while police managed to recover only articles worth Rs 105.3 crore, with a recovery rate of 38.1%.

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If you are in Maharashtra and a victim of theft, the chances are the least to get your stolen articles back as it has the lowest recovery rate of 7.9 per cent among big states. Delhi has the worst recovery rate at 4.8% where articles worth Rs 3,278.8 crore was stolen and only those worth Rs 157 crore recovered.

Tripura, which reported the worst rate at 1.5% in 2015, improved its recovery rate to 29.8% last year.

Cash and jewellery worth Rs 1,843.6 crore were recovered of which only Rs 359 crore was recovered.

Vehicles was another big target for thieves as they stole 3.91 lakh valued at Rs 1,664.1 crore. Of this, only vehicles valued at Rs 511.1 crore were recovered.

According to the report, 7.96 lakh cases were reported under offences against property, which is 26.8% of total cases registered under IPC, Of this, theft cases (4.94 lakh) topped the list followed by criminal trespass/burglaries (1.11 lakh cases).

Among the theft cases, the major share went to vehicle theft. The report also showed that 2.20 lakh cases of property crimes took place at residential premises. However, majority of robberies took place on highways or roads with 17,599 cases.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 1, 2017)

Cyber crime on rise

Karnataka, dubbed the capital of India’s IT industry, is among the top three states in cyber crime cases as such incidents report a 6.3% rise nationally.

However, the rise in numbers are creating trouble for investigators as the pending cyber crime cases has risen to 14,973 at the end of 2016 from 11,789 in December 2015 and 8,032 in 2014.

The Crime in India 2016 report, released on Thursday by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), showed that cyber crimes in 2016 has touched 12,317 cases compared to 11,592 in 2015 and 9,622 in 2014. While the rise was 6.3% last year, in 2015 it rose by 20.5% compared to 2014.

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Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 2,639 cases followed by Maharashtra (2,380) and Karnataka (1,101) last year.

During 2016, the report said 48.6% of cyber-crime cases reported were for illegal gain (5,987) followed by revenge (1,056) and insult to the modesty of women (686 cases).

Among the metros, Mumbai (980) has reported maximum number of cases under cyber-crime while Bengaluru ranked second with 762 cases and Jaipur at third with 532 cases.

According to the report, chargesheets were filed in courts in 3,712 cases. The rate of charge-sheeting was 40.3%, down from 46.8% in 2015, while the pendency percentage was 61.9% as against 60.7%.

Experts suggest the increase in cyber crime is due to more and more people accessing the internet. Also, more people are now accessing internet through mobile phones.

However, in August, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said in Parliament, “Internet and mobile platforms have found wide penetration in the society in a relatively short period of time. There is a growing tendency to commit cyber crimes using these platforms. However, there is no specific data available that exclusively links incidents of crime with mobile and internet,” Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir told Lok Sabha recently.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 1, 2017)

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