The Supreme Court, last week, made it mandatory for the police to record every cognisable offence which comes to them. Now, citizens have come together to protest under-reporting of crimes, otherwise known as ‘burking’ in police parlance. The population has seen an increase of almost 70 per cent in the last 35 years, but the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that crime has dropped.
In Mumbai alone, 32,419 cognisable crimes were recorded for a population of 87 lakh in 1984. This meant 372.6 crimes per lakh people. Whereas, in 2010, 33,932 cognisable crimes were recorded for a population of 150 lakh, which is 226.2 crimes per lakh people.
The general consensus is that all crimes don’t get recorded to keep the crime rate low.
“We do not know how many crimes are committed since we have nationally maintained the pretense for decades that even if population rises, our crimes do not rise. This is a national lie which is played out everywhere,” said RTI activist and former Central Information Commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi.
According to the NCRB, India records less than 200 cognisable crimes for every lakh people per year. The figure, say experts, is over 7000 for the same population in the United States of America, Germany and South Africa.
R. Tripurari, former Superintendent of Police in Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, conducted a famous experiment in 2007 to tackle ‘burking.’ When he took over, he simply ordered all police stations to record all offences. “You will not arrest anybody only on the basis of an FIR,” he said. The result was that people felt confident in walking into police stations and registering crimes. The cases went up to more than four times. The monthly average of the number of recorded cases went up from 249 in the pre-experiment phase to 1060 in the post-experiment phase.