Data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on rapes in the country, specifically “murder with rape/ gangrape’’, do not conclusively point to an increasing trend of rapists killing their victims to eliminate evidence, as suggested by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
According to “Murder with Rape/Gang Rape’’ data, maintained by the NCRB since 2017, such crimes make up less than 1 per cent of total rapes in the country annually — and the increase in this category has been marginal.
Speaking in Delhi last Friday, Gehlot had said that ever since the death penalty was introduced for rape, there had been a rise in victims being murdered by accused to prevent them from testifying.
“After the Nirbhaya incident a law was brought in for death penalty… after this, there has been an increase of murders of girls (victims). After the incident (of rape), the rapist sees that the survivor can be a witness against him. So he commits rape, and then murders the victim. This is a very big challenge that I see playing out across the country. It is a very dangerous trend,’’ said Gehlot.
Other political parties, including the BJP and AAP, the Delhi Commission for Women and Nirbhaya’s family had slammed Gehlot for his remarks.
According to NCRB data, murder with rape comprised 0.6 per cent of rape of women in 2017, 0.85 per cent in 2018, 0.9 per cent in 2019 and 0.81 per cent in 2020.
In 2017, there were 31,237 incidents of rape, including 213 incidents of murder with rape, followed by 33,977 (291) in 2018, 30,641 (278) in 2019 and 26,727 (218) in 2020. While there has been a marginal increase, experts say the data “is insufficient and cannot be used to attribute the increase to a stricter law’’.
The NCRB data shows that Gehlot’s state Rajasthan, UP, MP and Maharashtra registered the most reported incidents of rape for the period 2017-2020. For the same period, UP, Assam, MP and Maharashtra recorded the highest number of cases for rape and murder.
Rajasthan, the NCRB data shows, registered four cases of murder with rape/ gangrape in 2017, six in 2018, seven in 2019 and eight in 2020. At the same time, the number of rape cases in the state rose from 3,305 in 2017 to 4,335 in 2018, 5,997 in 2019 and 5,310 in 2020.
Experts point out that increased reporting of incidents may be one of the key reasons behind rise in numbers. The NCRB data also shows nearly 40 per cent acquittal rate in rape-murder cases nationwide (2017-2020), while the filing of chargesheets was at over 90 per cent.
After the Nirbhaya gangrape in New Delhi in December 2012, the Central Government introduced the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, which was passed in Parliament the same year. The Act amended the IPC to allow death penalty only in rape cases where the accompanying brutality leads to death or leaves the victim in a persistent vegetative state, and in cases of repeat offenders.