Of the 6.16 lakh criminal cases registered in 53 major cities across India in 2014, 40,361 (6.5%) took place in Mumbai, according to statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Though this puts Mumbai in second place behind Delhi, it is a distant second – the national capital saw 1.39 lakh criminal cases, a whopping 22.7% of the total, in the same period.
On crimes against women, Mumbai recorded 616 cases of sexual assault, which put it second behind Delhi (1815). In all, 5,761 sexual assault cases involving 5,777 victims were registered across the 53 cities. On cases of sexual harassment, too, Mumbai, with 650, was second behind Delhi, with 1,066. The 53-city total was 4,655 cases.
Of the 3,632 murders registered across the 53 cities in 2014, 187 took place in Mumbai, putting it fourth on the list behind Delhi (496), Bangalore (246) and Patna (206). As for robberies, 2,094 of the 14,475 cases took place in Mumbai, which was in second place. Delhi again topped this list by some distance, with 5,847. Bangalore’s 1,067 robberies put it in third place.
The section of the Indian Penal Code that deals with molestation cases was recently amended to include cases of stalking; 129 such cases were registered in Mumbai, 489 in Delhi and 1,554 across the 53 cities.
Experts, however, have differing views on the grim numbers. The increasing number of migrants arriving in the city is one of the main reasons for the large number of crimes, according to Dr Anjali Chabria, a psychiatrist. “If the aspirations of people who come to the city are not met, it can lead to frustration and eventually to crime,” said Chabria.
The city’s high population density, which makes it easy for criminals to disappear, is another reason, according to Chabria, who also blames Bollywood movies for the high incidence of crime in Mumbai. She said, “The way Bollywood movies depict crime could also be a reason for the large number of crimes committed, as they generally show that committing a crime and then walking away is very easy.”
BV Bhosale, a sociologist, said, “The city’s rapid rate of expansion of the city is one of the reasons for the large of crimes as many take place on the outskirts. The police force should be increase in accordance with the city’s growth.”
But, SS Virk, former director general of police, Maharashtra, maintained that Mumbai is not unsafe, despite the statistics. “Mumbai is a huge city and its population is growing every year. The geographical size of the city is also increasing, as is the number of slums. Together, these worsen problems such as unemployment and lead to a rise in crime. Statistics do not tell the full story. The figures are high because there are policemen to register offences.”
Former director general of police, Maharashtra
I have years of experience policing in Mumbai. Safety wise, the city is better patrolled than other metros. The police here are more active and involved in their work. Mumbai is not a haven for sexual harassment. The figures do not accurately reflect the prevailing situation, rather that it is easier to registered a crime here.
Former IPS officer turned lawyer
There is no doubt that Mumbai is a safe city. Technically, one cannot determine the safety index from crime statistics as with an increasing population, the number of crimes is bound to rise as well. Better accountability from the police will help curb crime.
Professor and chairperson, Centre of Criminology and Justice, TISS
We need to consider the city’s rapid urbanisation and its contribution to the economy. In any urban setup, crime is bound to rise. However crime in India is far less than in western countries. Our judicial setup needs to be more robust as we have a ratio of 14 judges per million compared to global ratio of 35 to 40 per million.