Crime in India

Posted by on Jun 11, 2011 | 87 Comments

Crime is present in various forms in India. Organized crime include drug trafficking, gunrunning, money laundering, extortion, murder for hire, fraud, human trafficking and poaching. Many criminal operations engage in black marketeering, political violence, religiously motivated violence, terrorism, and abduction. Other crimes are homicide, robbery, assault etc. Property crimes include burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Corruption is a significant problem.

Crime over time

Incidence of cognizable crimes in India 1953-2007

A report published by the National Crime Records Bureau compared crime rate from 1953 to 2006. The report noted that burglary declined over a period of 53 years by 38% (from 1,47,379 in 1953 to 91,666 in 2006), whereas murder has increased by 231% (from 9,803 in 1953 to 32,481 in 2006). Kidnapping has increased by 356% (from 5,261 in 1953 to 23,991 in 2006), robbery by 120% (from 8,407 in 1953 to 18,456 in 2006) and riots by 176% (from 20,529 in 1953 to 56,641 in 2006).

In 2006, 51,02,460 cognizable crimes were committed including 18,78,293 Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes and 32,24,167 Special & Local Laws (SLL) crimes, with an increase of 1.5% over 2005 (50,26,337). IPC crime rate in 2006 was 167.7 compared to 165.3 in 2005 showing an increase of 1.5% in 2006 over 2005. SLL crime rate in 2006 was 287.9 compared to 290.5 in 2005 showing a decline of 0.9% in 2006 over 2005.

Year Total cog. crimes under IPC Murder Kidnapping Robbery Burglary Riots
1953 6,01,964 9,802 5,261 8,407 147,379 20,529
2006 18,78,293 32,481 23,991 18,456 91,666 56,641
% Change in 2006 over 1953 212.0 231.0 356.0 120.0 -38.0 176.0

SOURCE: National Crime Records Bureau

Crime by locale

Location has a significant impact on crime in India. In 2006, the highest crime rate was reported in Pondicherry (447.7%) for crimes under Indian Penal Code which is 2.7 times the national crime rate of 167.7%. Kerala reported the highest crime rate at 312.5% among states. However this is attributed to Kerala’s higher literacy awareness among locals, thereby reporting crimes at police stations, which doesn’t happen in many other states in India.

Kolkata (71.0%) and Madurai (206.2%) were the only two mega cities which reported less crime rate than their domain states West Bengal (79.0%) and Tamil Nadu (227.6%). Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have accounted for 16.2%, 9.5% and 8.1% respectively of the total IPC crimes reported from 35 mega cities. Indore reported the highest crime rate (769.1%) among the mega cities in India followed by Bhopal (719.5%) and Jaipur (597.1%).

Jammu & Kashmir (33.7%), Manipur (33.0%), Assam (30.4%) and Daman and Diu and Pondicherry (29.4%) reported higher violent crime rate compared to 18.4% at national level. Uttar Pradesh reported the highest incidence of violent crimes accounting for 12.1% of total violent crimes in India (24,851 out of 2,05,656) followed by Bihar with 11.8% (24,271 out of 2,05,6556). Among 35 mega cities, Delhi reported 31.2% (533 out of 1,706) of total rape cases. Madhya Pradesh has reported the highest number of rape cases (2,900) accounting for 15.0% of total such cases reported in the country. Uttar Pradesh reported 16.9% (5,480 out of 32,481) of total murder cases in the country and 18.4% (4,997 out of 27,230) total attempt to murder cases.

Crimes against women

Main article: Women in India

Police records show high incidence of crimes against women in India. The National Crime Records Bureau reported in 1998 that the growth rate of crimes against women would be higher than the population growth rate by 2010. Earlier, many cases were not registered with the police due to the social stigma attached to rape and molestation cases. Official statistics show that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of reported crimes against women.

Sexual Harassment

Half of the total number of crimes against women reported in 1990 related to molestation and harassment at the workplace. Eve teasing is a euphemism used for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men. Many activists blame the rising incidents of sexual harassment against women on the influence of “Western culture”. In 1987, The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act was passed to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner. after they

In 1997, in a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court of India took a strong stand against sexual harassment of women in the workplace. The Court also laid down detailed guidelines for prevention and redressal of grievances. The National Commission for Women subsequently elaborated these guidelines into a Code of Conduct for employers.

While public urination is practised by men of all ages in India, it is socially unacceptable for girls and women to publicly urinate when restrooms are unavailable. In other countries such as Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam public urination is practised by women when there are no toilets. Resisting urination leads to harassment and UTI in women.

Dowry

Main articles: Dowry and Dowry law in India

In 1961, the Government of India passed the Dowry Prohibition Act, making the dowry demands in wedding arrangements illegal. However, many cases of dowry-related domestic violence, suicides and murders have been reported. In the 1980s, numerous such cases were reported. However, recent reports show that the number of these crimes have reduced drastically.

In 1985, the Dowry Prohibition (maintenance of lists of presents to the bride and bridegroom) rules were framed. According to these rules, a signed list of presents given at the time of the marriage to the bride and the bridegroom should be maintained. The list should contain a brief description of each present, its approximate value, the name of whoever has given the present and his/her relationship to the person.

A 1997 report claimed that at least 5,000 women die each year because of dowry deaths, and at least a dozen die each day in ‘kitchen fires’ thought to be intentional. The term for this is “bride burning” and is criticized within India itself. Amongst the urban educated, such dowry abuse has reduced dramatically.

Child Marriage

Child marriage has been traditionally prevalent in India and continues to this day. Young girls live with their parents until they reach puberty. In the past, the child widows were condemned to a life of great agony, shaving heads, living in isolation, and shunned by the society. Although child marriage was outlawed in 1860, it is still a common practice.

According to UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children-2009” report, 47% of India’s women aged 20–24 were married before the legal age of 18, with 56% in rural areas. The report also showed that 40% of the world’s child marriages occur in India.

Female infanticides and sex selective abortions

Main article: Sex-selective abortion and infanticide

India has a highly masculine sex ratio, the chief reason being that many women die before reaching adulthood. Tribal societies in India have a less masculine sex ratio than all other caste groups. This, in spite of the fact that tribal communities have far lower levels of income, literacy and health facilities. It is therefore suggested by many experts, that the highly masculine sex ratio in India can be attributed to female infanticides and sex-selective abortions.

All medical tests that can be used to determine the sex of the child have been banned in India, due to incidents of these tests being used to get rid of unwanted female children before birth. Female infanticide (killing of girl infants) is still prevalent in some rural areas. The abuse of the dowry tradition has been one of the main reasons for sex-selective abortions and female infanticides in India.

Domestic violence

The incidents of domestive violence are higher among the lower Socio-Economic Classes (SECs). There are various instances of an inebriated husband beating up the wife often leading to severe injuries. Domestic violence is also seen in the form of physical abuse. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 came into force on October 26, 2006.

Illegal drug trade

India is located between two major illicit opium producing centres in Asia – the Golden Crescent comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran and the Golden Triangle comprising Burma, Thailand and Laos. Because of such geographical location, India experiences large amount of drug trafficking through the borders. India is the world’s largest producer of licit opium. But opium is diverted to illicit international drug markets.

India is a transshipment point for heroin from Southwest Asian countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan and from Southeast Asian countries like Burma, Laos, and Thailand. Heroin is smuggled from Pakistan and Burma, with some quantities transshipped through Nepal. Most heroin shipped from India are destined for Europe. There have been reports of heroin smuggled from Mumbai to Nigeria for further export.

In Maharashtra, Mumbai is an important centre for distribution of drug. The most commonly used drug in Mumbai is Indian heroin (called desi mal by the local population). Both public transportation (road and rail transportation) and private transportation are used for this drug trade.

Drug trafficking affects the country in many ways.

A survey conducted in 2003-2004 by Narcotics Control Bureau found that India has at least four million drug addicts. The most common drugs used in India are cannabis, hashish, opium and heroin. In 2006 alone, India’s law enforcing agencies recovered 230 kg heroin and 203 kg of cocaine. In an annual government report in 2007, the United States named India among 20 major hubs for trafficking of illegal drugs along with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Burma. However, studies reveal that most of the criminals caught in this crime are either Nigerian or US nationals.

Several measures have been taken by the Government of India to combat drug trafficking in the country. India is a party of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), the Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971), the Protocol Amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1972) and the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988). An Indo-Pakistani committee was set up in 1986 to prevent trafficking in narcotic drugs. India signed a convention with the United Arab Emirates in 1994 to control drug trafficking. In 1995, India signed an agreement with Egypt for investigation of drug cases and exchange of information and a Memorandum of Understanding of the Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Drugs with Iran.

Arms trafficking

According to a joint report published by Oxfam, Amnesty International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) in 2006, there are around 40 million illegal small arms in India out of approximately 75 million in worldwide circulation. Majority of the illegal small arms make its way into the states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. In India, a used AK-47 costs $3,800 in black market. Large amount of illegal small arms are manufactured in various illegal arms factories in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and sold on the black market for as little as $5.08.

Chinese pistols are in demand in the illegal small arms market in India because they are easily available and cheaper. This trend poses a significant problem for the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh which have influence of Naxalism. The porous Indo-Nepal border is an entry point for Chinese pistols, AK-47 and M-16 rifles into India as these arms are used by the Naxalites who have ties to Maoists in Nepal.

In North-East India, there is a huge influx of small arms due to the insurgent groups operating there. The small arms in North-East India come from insurgent groups in Burma, black market in South-East Asian countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, black market in Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, insurgent groups like the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Communist Party of India (Maoist), the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Indian states like Uttar Pradesh and pilferages from legal gun factories, criminal organizations operating in India and South Asian countries and other international markets like Romania, Germany etc. The small arms found in North-East India are M14 rifle, M16 rifle, AK-47, AK-56, AK-74, light machine guns, Chinese hand grenades, mines, rocket-propelled grenades, submachine guns etc.

The Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs drafted a joint proposal to the United Nations, seeking a global ban on small-arms sales to non-state users.

Poaching and wildlife trafficking

Illegal wildlife trade in India has increased. According to a report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in 2004, India is the chief target for the traders of wildlife skin. Between 1994 and 2003, there have been 784 cases where the skins of tiger, leopard or otter have been seized. Leopards, rhinoceros, reptiles, birds, insects, rare species of plants are being smuggled into the countries in Southeast Asia and the People’s Republic of China. Between 1994 and 2003, poaching and seizure of 698 otters have been documented in India.

Kathmandu is a key staging point for illegal skins smuggled from India bound for Tibet and PRC. The report by EIA noted there has been a lack of cross-border cooperation between India, Nepal and the People’s Republic of China to coordinate enforcement operations and lack of political will to treat wildlife crime effectively. The poaching of the elephants is a significant problem in Southern India and in the North-Eastern states of Nagaland and Mizoram. The majority of tiger poaching happen in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Following is a comparison of reported cases of tiger and leopard poaching from 1998 to 2003:

Year 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Reported cases of tiger poaching
14 38 39 35 47 8
Reported cases of leopard poaching
28 80 201 69 87 15

Samir Sinha, head of TRAFFIC India, the wildlife trade monitoring arm of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN), told Reuters in an interview “The situation regarding the illegal trade in wildlife parts in India is very grim. It is a vast, a varied trade ranging from smuggling of rare medicinal plants to butterflies to peafowl to tigers and it is difficult to predict how big it is, but the threats and dimensions suggest that the trade is increasing”.

Project Tiger, a wildlife conservation project, was initiated in 1972 and was launched by Indira Gandhi on April 1, 1973. With 23 tiger reserves, Project Tiger claimed to have succeeded. But according to critics like conservationist Billy Arjan Singh, temporary increases in tiger population were caused by immigration due to destruction of habitat in Nepal, not because of the widely acclaimed success of wildlife policy in India.

Cyber crime

Cases of spam, computer hacking, cyber stalking and email fraud are rampant in India. The Information Technology Act 2000 was passed by the Parliament of India in May 2000, aiming to curb cyber crimes and provide a legal framework for e-commerce transactions. However Pavan Duggal, lawyer of Supreme Court of India and cyber law expert, viewed “The IT Act, 2000, is primarily meant to be a legislation to promote e-commerce. It is not very effective in dealing with several emerging cyber crimes like cyber harassment, defamation, stalking and so on”. Although cyber crime cells have been set up in major cities, Duggal noted the problem is that most cases remain unreported due to a lack of awareness.

In 2001, India and United States had set up an India-US cyber security forum as part of a counter-terrorism dialogue. In 2006, India and the US agreed to enhance cooperation between law enforcement agencies of the two countries in tackling cyber crimes as part of counter-terrorism efforts. A joint US-India statement released in 2006 after talks between US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stressed that in view of the importance of cyber security and cyber forensic research, the two countries are also carrying out discussions on a draft protocol on cyber security.

Corruption and police misconduct

Main article: Corruption in India

Corruption is widespread in India. It is prevalent within every section and every level of the society. Corruption has taken the role of a pervasive aspect of Indian politics. In India, corruption takes the form of bribes, evasion of tax and exchange controls, embezzlement, etc.

Despite state prohibitions against torture and custodial misconduct by the police, torture is widespread in police custody, which is a major reason behind deaths in custody. The police often torture innocent people until a ‘confession’ is obtained to save influential and wealthy offenders. G.P. Joshi, the programme coordinator of the Indian branch of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in New Delhi comments that the main issue at hand concerning police violence is a lack of accountability of the police.

In 2006, the Supreme Court of India in a judgment in the Prakash Singh vs. Union of India case, ordered central and state governments with seven directives to begin the process of police reform. The main objectives of this set of directives was twofold, providing tenure to and streamlining the appointment/transfer processes of policemen, and increasing the accountability of the police.

In 2006, seven policemen were charge sheeted and eleven were convicted for custodial misconduct. Jan Lokpal Bill is being planned to reduce the corruption.

Crimes against foreigners in India

There are some instances of violent crime against foreigners in India. Many of the crimes occur against foreigners only. Scams involving export of jewels occur in India, which target foreign citizens. Traveling alone in remote areas after dark is of particular risk to foreigners.

Because the American, Canadian and British citizens’ purchasing power is relatively large compared to the general Indian population, they are the preferred target for robbery and other serious crime.

In April 1999, Swaraj Damree, a tourist from Mauritius was befriended by a group of Indians who later held him in 25 days of captivity. They robbed him of cash amounting to US $1,500, took his travellers’ cheques, wrist watch, gold chain, bracelet, two bags and suitcase. In 2000, two German trekkers were shot in Himachal Pradesh. A few weeks later, two Spanish tourists were killed in Himachal Pradesh by robbers. Many foreign tourists are victims of violent crime in Kolkata. In September 2006, criminals robbed the wallet of a British woman in Kolkata. The same month, a Japanese tourist was robbed on his way to Sudder Street. In October 2006, a foreigner was robbed in daylight on Park Street.

Petty crime

Petty crime, like pickpocketing, bag snatching etc. is widespread in India. Theft of foreigners’ valuables from luggage on trains and buses is common. Travelers who are not in groups become easy victims of pickpockets and purse snatchers. Purse snatchers work in crowded areas.

Passport theft

In India, stealing passports of foreigners from their luggage on trains and buses is widespread. Theft of U.S. passports is very common, especially in major tourist areas.

Confidence tricks

Many scams are perpetrated against foreign travelers, especially in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Scammers usually target younger foreign tourists and suggest to them that money can be made by privately transporting gems or gold, or by taking delivery abroad of expensive carpets, avoiding customs duties.

Such incidents occupy the traveler for several days. The traveler is then passed to a new scam artist who offers to show the foreign traveler the sights. Scam artists also offer cheap lodgings and meals to foreign travelers so they can place him or her in the scam artist’s physical custody and thus make the foreigner vulnerable to threats and physical coercion. In the process, the foreigner loses his passport.

Taxi scam

There are also taxi scams present in India, whereby a foreign traveler, who is not aware of the locations around Indian airports, is taken for a ride round the whole airport and charged for full-fare taxi ride while the terminal is only few hundred yards away. Overseas Security Advisory Council in a report mentioned the process about how to avoid taxi-scam.

Rape and sexual assault

Incidents of rape and sexual assault against foreign tourists at popular tourist spots is increasing in India. Many of the alleged perpetrators are children of senior government officials or politicians. In September 1994, Gurkirat Singh, grandson of the then CM Beant Singh, was accused of abducting and molesting a French tourist, Katia Darnand, in Chandigarh. In March 2006, Biti Mohanty, son of a senior police official in Orissa, raped a German tourist in Alwar, Rajasthan. A Japanese woman was raped in Pushkar, Rajasthan on April 2, 2006. In June 2007, a South Korean was raped near Manali. In September 2007, two Japanese women were gang-raped in Agra, a popular tourist-spot in India where the Taj Mahal is situated.

The Indian state of Rajasthan–a popular destination among foreign tourists, with one out of every three foreign travellers visiting the state–have been rattled by rape cases of foreign tourists. On December 5, 2009, a Russian woman was raped in Goa by a local politician, John Fernandes. In February 2008, Scarlett Keeling, a British national aged 15, was raped and killed in Goa. In January 2010, a Russian girl aged 9 was raped in Goa.referring to this and earlier cases, Russia threatened to issue an advisory asking its citizens not to travel to the coastal state. The US Bureau of Consular Affairs has warned women not to travel alone in India. However in contrast the British Foreign office only advise them to take normal precautions.

Murder and manslaughter

The following are reported cases of foreigners reported missing or killed in India.

Name Age Sex Nationality Date Circumstances Place State References
Graham Staines 58 Male Australia 1999/01/22 Burned to death by mob Manoharpur Orissa Link
Timothy Staines 7 Male Australia 1999/01/22 Burned to death by mob Manoharpur Orissa Link
Philip Staines 9 Male Australia 1999/01/22 Burned to death by mob Manoharpur Orissa Link
Michael Blakey 23 Male United Kingdom 2006/11/28 Stoned to death Dharamsala Himachal Pradesh  
Stephen Bennett 40 Male United Kingdom 2006/12/11 Hanged in a jungle Roha Maharashtra  
Elena Sukhnova 24 Female Russia 2006/05/08 Left dismembered on rail track Revora Goa  
Browne Chapa Sherianne Maria   Female Trinidad and Tobago 2009/12/03 Suspected poisoning Agra Uttar Pradesh  
Kirill Gusev   Male Russia 2009 Suspected poisoning Pernem Goa  
Jean-Baptiste Talleu 27 Male France 2007/12/05 Missing since Bombay Maharashtra  
Anna Bartlett 25 Female United Kingdom 2003/10/02 Head injuries Manali Himachal Pradesh  
Daniel Mountwitten 23 Male Australia 2005/08/05 Missing since Challal Himachal Pradesh  
Scarlett Keeling 15 Female United Kingdom 2008/02/18 Drugged and assaulted Anjuna Goa  
Leos Klimes   Male Czech Republic 2007/08/07 Missing since Leh Jammu and Kashmir  

 

 

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