Data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2019 puts Rajasthan at the top when it comes to rape or attempt to rape cases. Between 2018 and 2019, there was a drastic increase of 49.11 per cent in cases of crimes against women in Rajasthan.
Against this rise in numbers, Opposition BJP is organising ‘halla bol’ protests across the state Monday with party state president Satish Poonia saying under Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan has recorded the most number of crimes and has become a “crime capital.” Gehlot was elected Rajasthan CM in December 2018.
Where does Rajasthan stand in national figures for crime against women?
Overall, Rajasthan stood second in crime against women, with a crime rate of 110.4 per lakh population; it is calculated by adding crimes registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL). The list is topped by Assam with 177.8; however, it is one of the smaller states. Assam and Rajasthan are followed by Haryana (108.5) and Odisha (103.5). The national average is 61.3.
When it comes to IPC section 376 (rape), Rajasthan again tops the list with an incidence (FIRs registered) of 5,997 and 6,051 victims, translating into a crime rate of 15.9. The national average crime rate for rape is 4.8. For attempt to commit rape (Sec 376/511 IPC) too, Rajasthan tops the list with an incidence of 1,019 and 1,030 victims.
Also, the rate of all cognisable crimes in Rajasthan (IPC+SLL) stood at 392.2 Interestingly, Kerala tops the list with a rate of 1,287.7 while the national average is 367.4.
However, at 8.7 per cent, Rajasthan has the lowest pendency rate with police among all states when it comes to crime against women. The national average is 32.4 per cent.
How much is the difference between the 2018 and 2019 figures in Rajasthan?
In Rajasthan, more cases are being registered now. The figures for crime against women (IPC+SLL) for the state increased from 25,993 (2017) to 27,866 (2018) to 41,550 in 2019. So while there was an increase of 7.21 per cent from 2017 to 2018, the increase from 2018 to 2019 was a drastic 49.11 per cent.
Overall IPC+SLL crimes have also shot up drastically. While there was an increase of just 1,873 cases between 2017 and 2018, the difference between 2019 and 2018 is of 53,848 cases, or an increase of 21.49 per cent. State capital Jaipur saw 2,957 more cases in 2018, compared to 2017, but the difference between 2019 and 2018 is 10,008 cases.
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Why have the figures shot up drastically in Rajasthan under Congress?
Soon after assuming power, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot emphasised the need to mandatorily register an FIR. A January 31, 2019 circular by then Director General of Police Kapil Garg, said that “registration of FIR is the fundamental duty of police.” In the detailed note, he wrote how an immediate registration of FIR for a cognisable offence “reflects sensitivity and efficiency of police before the complainant,” and how a delay in registration of FIR aggravates the pain of the complainant and works to the benefit of the accused.
At a police department review meeting in June 2019, Gehlot said that every complainant who arrives at a police station be heard patiently and “registration of FIR should be ensured.” He said that “complaints about hesitation in registering FIR or about behaviour (of police) will not be tolerated.” Importantly, he said that “there is no need to worry if more FIRs lead to rise in crime figures.”
The office of the Director-General of Police has, time and again, sent circulars to district police reminding them of January 31, 2019 circular. One such circular from February 5, 2020, reminded them that “parivadi ki report har surat mein darj ki jaave (complainant’s report should be registered under all circumstances).”
Director-General, Prisons, B L Soni, who was Additional DG (Crime) and then DG (Crime) between December 2018 and July 2020, said the chief minister’s message was that “everybody can get a case registered. It was a bold decision by the CM that we will register every complaint. Earlier, when there were more cases, police station in-charge used to be pulled up and at the state level, the government used to take credit – look, we have reduced crime by x, y per cent. The premium was on not registering FIR. If you had ‘reduced’ crime, you were appreciated. Now reduction of crime is questioned. If you don’t register (an FIR), you are pulled up: departmental proceedings were initiated against two dozen SHOs when they did not register a case and a fellow had to go to SP or IG or police HQ; and half a dozen SHOs were suspended. Even a few SPs were also pulled up.”
All of this mainly started in May, 2019, post Lok Sabha elections. Soni says that the government also undertook “a large number of decoy operations” to see whether FIRs were being lodged at police stations.
There were a host of other measures undertaken by the government to make the process more transparent. In May 2019, following the Thanagazi gangrape case in Alwar, Gehlot announced that FIRs could directly be registered with the SP’s office if local police stations did not entertain a complaint. On July 1, 2019, the state government also made it mandatory to register every complaint on Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS). “FIRs were being registered on CCTNS but now the difference was that every complaint should also be registered in the system,” Soni said.
Following the Thanagazi rape case and no let-up in crime in the district, Alwar was divided into two separate police districts – Alwar and Bhiwadi – in August 2019.
“Also, earlier people used to approach the courts for registration of FIRs under CrPC 156(3). This saw a decline too from 28 per cent (in 2018) to 16 per cent in 2019 end, since cases were being freely lodged by the police,” Soni said.
So has the crime situation in Rajasthan worsened between 2018 and 2019?
Registration of more cases doesn’t necessarily mean that crime has increased. That also explains why Kerala has the highest rate of cognisable crimes in all of India. In Rajasthan, the police department’s campaign to register every complaint has led to an increase in registration of FIRs in the state, and thus the overall drastic rise in figures between 2018 and 2019.
NCRB itself says that “the primary presumption that the upward swing in police data indicates an increase in crime and thus a reflection of the ineffectiveness of the police is fallacious. ‘Rise in crime’ and ‘increase in registration of crime by police’ are clearly two different things, a fact which is often confused. Thus an oft-repeated expectation from certain quarters that an effective police administration will be able to keep the crime figures low is misplaced. Increase in crime numbers in state police data may in fact be on account of certain citizen centric police initiatives, like launching of e-FIR facility or women Helpdesks, etc.”