Matter of interpretation: On NCRB’s Crime in India Report 2018

Only three months after the release of the much delayed “Crime in India report” for 2017, the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2018 report was unveiled last week. While the fact that this document has been made available so soon should be welcomed, this report, as with those for earlier years, carries the caveat that crime records and statistics are only as good as their reporting. Some States are better than others in tracking and registering crimes. This is why Kerala and the National Capital Region having the highest crime rates in the country — 1463.2 per one lakh population and 1342.5, respectively — is also a reflection of the fact that crime reporting, follow-up and subsequent steps in trial and punishment are much better undertaken in these two States/UTs. Yet, what should be worrying for the capital city region is that unlike Kerala, the number of cognisable crimes has steadily increased to 2,62,612 in 2018 from 2,16,920 in 2016. Better reporting could also perhaps explain why there is a 15% increase in the total crimes against women across all States, but the fact that this number went up by 66% in a large State such as Uttar Pradesh must be cause for concern. Conversely, crimes against women fell 20.8% after reaching a peak number of 17,222 in Delhi. It is well understood that the protests against the gangrape in Delhi in 2012 had significantly contributed to greater reporting of crimes against women. The fall in these numbers, corresponding to the general increase in crimes, could reflect the outcomes of better gender sensitisation in the capital region. Unlike crime numbers that are difficult to interpret due to registration and policing issues, the number of murders across States is a stark reflection of violent crime. The finding in the 2017 NCRB report that northeastern States such as Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya have a relatively higher murder rate compared to most States bears itself out in 2018 as well. Other States which have a worrisome record here include Jharkhand (4.6 murders per one lakh population, the highest in the country) and Haryana (3.9). Among cities, Patna (4.4) has an egregious murder rate.


While protests and violence related to them have occupied the news cycle in the last month or so, data from the report suggest that there has been a marginal decrease in the total cases related to rioting from 2016 (61,974) to 2018 (57,828). Cases related to caste and communal/religious riots, political violence and agrarian conflicts registered a dip while there was an increase in industrial rioting and other personal disputes. Among cases registered as “offences against the State”, there has been an ominous increase under “sedition” with the number of those booked in 2018 double that of 2016, even as most such cases under this section came under the “Prevention of Damage of Public Property Act”; Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh led with nearly half of the overall cases.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 9:33:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/matter-of-interpretation/article30551693.ece

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