Mamata Banerjee (Subhendu Ghosh/Hindustan Times via GettyImages)
Snapshot
  • Of the total number of crimes registered in the country in 2016 under various sections of the IPC, Bengal’s share was 5.9 per cent, thus ranking it 8th among the states.

There is nothing ‘bhadra’ (genteel) about Bengal’s ‘lok’ (people). And the latest crime statistics compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau and released by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh proves that decisively.

Bengal, the crime statistics of 2016 show, treats its women the worst among all the states of the country after Uttar Pradesh (UP) which is a much bigger state. Bengal has just 44 per cent of Uttar Pradesh’s population and 36 per cent of its land area, which makes UP a much more highly populated state than Bengal. Bengal ranks first in human trafficking (mostly girls), acid attacks against women and cruelty towards women by their husbands and in-laws. Bengal is also among the top six states in the number of cases of gang rapes of women.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh releasing the NCRB statistics (Press Information Bureau)   Home Minister Rajnath Singh releasing the NCRB statistics (Press Information Bureau)  

Overall, Bengal logged 32,513 crimes against women in 2016, or 9.6 per cent of all crimes against women registered in the country in 2016. Considering the fact that Bengal hosts only 6.82 per cent of the country’s population of 1.324 billion people while UP has 15.42 per cent of the country’s population, Bengal actually rates higher than UP in comparative terms in crimes against women. A total of 19,302 cases were registered under Section 398A of IPC (dealing with matrimonial cruelty towards women) in Bengal in 2016, making the state the worst offender on this count. Next on the list is Rajasthan (13,811 Sec 398A cases) followed by UP (11,156 such cases). Harassment of women for dowry (which is why most cases under 398A are registered) is thus the highest in Bengal, puncturing all the tall claims by Bengali men to the ‘bhadralok’ tag.

Of the total number of crimes registered in the country in 2016 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Bengal’s share was 5.9 per cent, thus ranking it 8th among the states. Fewer crimes under IPC were recorded in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand and Karnataka, besides many other states. Kolkata recorded 22,519 crimes under IPC in 2016, ranking it 5th in the list of 19 metropolitan cities (with populations over 2 million) in terms of the number of crimes. Chennai, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Patna and Ahmedabad, among other cities, were safer than Kolkata.

Of all the violent crimes recorded in India in 2016 (4,11,709 crimes), Bengal logged 26,723 crimes (10.9 per cent of the all-India figure), making it the 2nd most violent state in the country after Uttar Pradesh. But if UP’s size and population is taken into account, Bengal emerges as the most violent state in the country. Of the 33,981 cases of murders registered in India in 2016, 2044 were committed in Bengal, ranking it 4th among states after UP, Bihar and Maharashtra. But here again, the population of UP and Maharashtra are much higher than Bengal. What then emerges is in per capita terms, Bengal will rank second after Bihar in murders.

As for crimes against children, Bengal ranked 5th among states with 6.5 per cent of the 1,06,958 crimes against children registered in the country in 2016. UP, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi ranked higher than Bengal on this count. Bengal came fourth on the economic offences index, with 6.7 per cent of the 1.43 lakh such cases registered all over the country last year. Bengal also ranked 8th in terms of cyber crimes and 7th in crimes on railways.

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But it is in terms of trafficking that Bengal fares the worst among all states. A total of 3,113 children below 18 years (34.5 per cent of the all-India figures) and 1,051 children above 18 years (16.56 per cent of the all-India total) were trafficked from Bengal in 2016. Poverty is the prime reason behind trafficking of women and children and the fact that Bengal tops this dubious list busts the myth of the state making economic progress. Even in terms of rescuing the trafficked children, Bengal fares very badly with just 12 per cent of the children rescued.

And guess what the ruling Trinamool Congress has to say about Bengal’s crime statistics. The party’s general secretary Partha Chatterjee, who also happens to be the state Education Minister, said that Bengal has “performed much better than BJP-ruled states”. To which the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Bengal vice president Joyprakash Majumder’s easy retort was: “Yes, the Minister is right. Bengal performed much better in crime than BJP-ruled states”.

Majumder also raised the issue of under-reporting of crime and registering of cases by the heavily politicised police force in Bengal. “The NCRB statistics show that number of criminal cases registered in Bengal is declining slowly. But our experience on the ground goes contrary to this. The state police feeds data to the NCRB and since the police don’t register many crimes under political pressure, the figures for Bengal are artificially low. In reality, Bengal ‘outperforms’ almost all other states in crime,” he said.

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