The latest survey by National Crime Records Bureau reveals a worrying increase in a range of criminal offences even as punishment falters
Graphic by Tanmoy Chakraborty
The annual statistical account of the National Crime Records Bureau, released for the year 2021, is a grim reminder of several socioeconomic developments moving in the wrong direction in India. This was the first year, when India, along with the rest of the world, began to limp back to normalcy after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns in its wake unleashed unprecedented hardship on mankind.
Despite the massive economic distress the lethal virus caused, thankfully, there was a marginal decrease in crime rates—crimes recorded per 100,000 population—from 2020. But compared to 2017, the jump is significant—from 389 to 446 in 2021. The rate of chargesheeting by police and convictions by court continue to remain abysmally low, once again highlighting the need for urgent police and judicial reforms. When it comes to crimes against women, including sexual offences, the conviction rate is even lower than the average of all crimes. This is despite a tougher law that came after the gruesome gang rape of a 23-year-old girl on a moving bus in the national capital of Delhi in 2012.
Graphics by Tanmoy Chakraborty
With the spread of the digital ecosystem, the number of cybercrimes has expectedly doubled in the past five years, though convictions are still under 50 per cent. But the most stunning number from the report is the gap between the registration of cases against police personnel and their convictions. In 2021, cases were registered against 1,163 police personnel, up from 549 in 2017, but only 15 were convicted, down from 128 in 2017. The men and women in khaki must ensure a reversal of these two sets of numbers for faster and more effective combat of crime.
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