By Dr. Gyan Pathak
Lockdowns and containment measures imposed in 2020 to contain COVID-19 had greatly impacted all sectors of the country except crime which registered and increase. Crime like theft accounted for 76.6 percent of all offences against property, perhaps driven by a pressing need to fill the empty stomachs which the government could not do despite all assurances. Involvement of first timer offender youths is alarmingly high, and also disobedience against authority.
Delhi Police Commissioner’s statement may provide additional window on changing pattern of crimes in which over 85 per cent persons were first timers while only 10-15 per cent were repeat offenders last year. What is prompting new people to commit crimes? An urgent answer is required, more so because they are youth of the country, and we cannot afford to enter into a highly dangerous zone of disobedience, almost 21 times against authorities’ orders, and 5 times in respect to other IPC crimes, indicative of clear unrest under Modi Raj.
Delhi Police Commissioner’s statement in public event should be taken note of not only in respect to the National Capital Territory, but also across the country, who said policing should aim that these 85 per cent do not fall in the web of crime. “Such people should get a chance to take a fresh shot of life and join the mainstream as builders of society,” he said.
The recently released Crime in India – 2020 presents some other alarming picture of the changing crime scenario in the country. The total cognizable crime in the pandemic year rose to 28 per cent compared to 2019 despite lockdowns and restrictions on people’s movement. It is claimed that it rose due to increased facilities of registration of cases in the police stations. Police in India is notorious for not easily registering cases, then how this come within a year that they softened their stance towards victims? Let it be so, the registered crime rate per lakh population has tremendously increased from 385.5 to 487.8 per lakh population in these two years. Another alarming situation is that the crimes under Special and local laws (SLL) are more than half of the crimes under IPC. It means for every 2 crime under IPC, more than one crime is a special crime. Under IPC, crime rate increased by 31.9 per cent and under SLL 21.6 per cent.
People are losing their general respect to the government authorities is evident from the fact that in 2019, only 29,469 cases were registered under disobedience to order duly promulgated by Public Servant (section 188 IPC) which rose to whopping 6,12,179 in 2020, and under other sections of the IPC from 2,52,268 to 10,62,399. Even under SLL category, the number of cases rose from 89,553 to 4,14,589.
The rate of filing chargesheet against the offenders were increased by 12.5 per cent from 67.4 per cent in 2019 to 75.8 per cent in 2020. This may veil an important aspect of real state of police functioning. They filed chargesheets only in 26,11,925 cases and they disposed of 34,47,285 cases. A total of 55,84,135 IPC cases were under investigation in 2020, out of which 13,27,167 were pending from previous years, while 2,612 cases were reopened. Thus the so called increase in chargesheeting is deceptive, and people are generally not satisfied with the police functioning. Here lies the partial explanation of disobedience.
The offences against public tranquility have increased by 12.4 per cent which should also be another matter of serious concern because it affects the public order. A total of 71,107 cases were registered in various sections of IPC under this head as against 63,262 in 2019. Within this category, rioting was the major crime which accounted of 72.7 per cent of the cases. Overall offences against state were however registered a 26.7 per cent decrease in 2020, though the number is still high at 5,613. Over 80 per cent cases were related to damaging public property, while over 14 per cent cases were registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Environment related cases have registered and increase of 78.1 per cent in 2020 as against 2019.
Atrocities and crimes against Scheduled Castes increased by 9.4 per cent in 2020 over 2019. About 32.9 per cent were hurt, 8.5 per cent atrocities, and 7.5 per cent criminal intimidation. The situation of Scheduled Castes remained almost the same with increase of crime about 9.3 per cent against them. Atrocities against them constituted about 27.2 per cent in 2020 followed by rape 13.7 per cent and assault on women 10.7 per cent.
Cyber crimes have registered an increase of 11.8 per cent in 2020 over 2019. Over 60 per cent of cases were for frauds, 6.6 per cent for sexual exploitation and 4.9 per cent for extortion.
Juveniles in conflict with law cases were decreased by 7.8 per cent, but the juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years should be a matter of concern because they constituted 76.2 per cent of all cases registered against children. Total number of cases registered was still high at 29,768 with 35,352 arrests – 31,618 apprehended under IPC and 3,734 under SLL.
Offences affecting human body accounted for almost one fourth of all IPC crimes during 2020, which showed only a marginal decrease of 0.5 per cent over 2019. Murders increased by one percent; kidnapping and abduction decreased by 19.3 per cent, but the male female ratio was 1:5 and children adult was almost 2:1. Children and women remain more vulnerable for this crime.
Though crime against women, children, and senior citizens have decreased these are still unacceptably high in various categories. It is a very sad state of affair that largest number about 30 per cent of women had become victims of cruelty by husbands and his relatives followed by “assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (23 per cent). Senior citizens became victims of hurt (25.8 per cent), followed by theft (11.6 per cent) and forgery, cheating, and fraud (10 per cent). (IPA Service)