Uttarakhand has witnessed over 200% increase in the cases of crime against women after it was carved out of Uttar Pradesh 15 years ago, according to the latest National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) report.
However, experts said the increase in the cases of crime couldn’t be directly linked to Uttarakhand’s separation from its parent state except that the new state would have grappled with a weak preventive policing initially. But, strangely, the NCRB figures reveal that the crime against women rate was only 8.8% in 2001 (a year after the state was formed), which has gone up to 27.4% in 2014, showing a jump of over 200%.
The commonest crimes against women are kidnapping, rape and related to dowry. In 2014, the state reported a maximum of 343 cases of assault on women with intent to outrage modesty, followed by 301 cases of cruelty by husband and relatives, according to NCRB figures.
However, the state has performed well among the 11 Himalayan states in 2014 as it slipped to the ninth position with 27.4% from the seventh with 34.18% crime rate against women in 2013, according to the NCRB figures.
But, experts said Uttarakhand should emulate Nagaland’s example which had only 6% rate of crime against women if it wanted to regain the reputation of being a peaceful state.
Social activists don’t see the drop in the crime rate 2014 very encouraging. They allege it could be because of a habitual under reporting of the crimes by the police.
Women rights activist Janhavi Tiwari said, “Many a time, police employees don’t take complaints of crimes against women seriously. Then there’s political pressure (on the police) and the pressure of saving their own image forces them to keep the cases count down.”
Tiwari cited a case of kidnapping of a 22-year-old girl around four months ago in Dehradun, which, despite repeated complaints by the girl’s mother, was not acted upon by the police.
Many feel that the state needs more number of women cops for better policing and prevent of crime against women. There are about 1,200 women cops in Uttarakhand’s civil police against 9200 male counterparts. Activists have long been demanding immediate recruitment of female constables and sub-inspectors to fill up the gap.
State commission for women chairperson Sarojini Kaintyura said the commission was pursuing the state government to come out with concrete steps to ensure safety to women. Because prevention was better than cure, she said.
Women safety is a major concern among girl students too. Sandhya Rawat, preparing for engineering entrance, said, “I don’t feel safe when I have to venture out outdoors, especially after the dusk. Having more policewomen around will boost the sense of security among girls like me.”
Uttarakhand director general of police (DGP) B S Sidhu, however, rubbished the social activists’ allegation of under reporting and said that strict instructions had been given to the police to register cases and act immediately on all complaints from women.
He said the rise in the cases of crime against women during the past 15 years could be attributed to a rise in awareness among women to report incidents , especially after the 2012 Delhi gang rape case and changing demographics of the relatively young state.
Sidhu linked the rise in crimes to labour migrants from the nearby states and said the state was undergoing massive real estate activities, attracting outsiders to the state, who were often found behind crimes against women.
Additional director general of police Ram Singh Meena said that comprehensive steps were being taken to address the situation with a special emphasis on an improved coordination between various police departments, reporting of crime and quick follow-up action.
These steps would finally ensure better crime prevention too, a police officer said, admitting that prevention of crimes was a national challenge which could only be dealt with technology interconnect and people’s participation through social media.
Former DGP Aloke B Lal said that the crime against women could only be controlled by the people through better coordination with the poilce.