Kollam, a city in southern Kerala with a population of 11 lakh, beat the likes of mega-cities Delhi and Mumbai in high incidence of crime in 2015. New data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows the Kerala city with a crime rate of 1194.3, much above Delhi (1066.2), Mumbai (233.2) and Kolkata (170). Kollam recorded 13,257 crimes and contributed 2 per cent to the all-India total.
A close look at the figures shows Kollam recording 172 incidents of assault on women with the intent to outrage modesty, out of which all are cases of sexual harassment. The city also saw 221 cases of cruelty by husband or his relatives in the year of 2015. In sexual harassment cases, Kollam with a crime rate of 15.5 was ranked second only to Bhopal. In 2012, Yahoo had listed Kollam as one of 20 most unsafe cities for women in India.
Police in the city also registered 217 cases of rioting, second only to Patna. Though none of them were communal in nature, many cases were shown to be emanating of political reasons. The NCRB data also shows Kerala racing ahead of bigger and more populous states when it came to recording political or student riot cases in 2015. Students of colleges, many of which are politically affiliated, are known to routinely clash against police forces and against each other at major public places. Images of students being lathi-charged and lobbed with tear-gas shells are a routine affair in the state. But the rise in numbers, especially in the past year, will certainly be alarming for law-enforcement agencies in Kerala. At the same time, Kollam has not recorded any caste-related conflicts or those against the weaker SC/ST communities, compared to other metro cities.
Kollam also recorded high incidence of road accidents, with 149 cases of death due to rash or negligent driving. Further, 1,303 incidents were reported causing injuries under road rage or rash driving. Close to 1,300 deaths were reported due to rash or negligent driving in Delhi, the highest in the country.
Kollam has maintained a clean sheet in terms of cases of sedition, human trafficking, extortion and insult to women in public transportation systems.
Much of the high incidence of crime in Kerala is attributed to maximum reporting of cases, anything from robbery to kidnapping to gangrape. Officials often cite this reason for the state routinely turning up among the top states in terms of crime. Although states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have a population size much bigger than Kerala, reporting of cases, especially of sexual assault against women, is very poor.