Whether it is murder, robbery or cases of rioting and destroying public property, most major crimes have increased in Bengaluru, according to National CrimeRecords Bureau (NCRB) data for the last year.
The report, which was released on Thursday, shows that the city has leapfrogged Mumbai to take the second position among metropolitan cities. The dramatic rise of crime by nearly 28% was met with disbelief by police officials, who claim that little had changed in methods of policing or detection that could lead to so large a number.
“An increase of around 6% is acceptable taking into account a population increase or variation in how gangs operate. But, 27% needs to be looked at. Data from our individual police stations do not show a significant rise in the cases being handled,” said a senior police official in the office of the Director-General of Police.
Officials said crimes against women and children have increased drastically owing to “better reporting”, expanded definition of rape, sexual harassment and assault, as well as tendency of the police to register multiple sections for one crime to ensure better conviction rate.
However, the rise in murders, kidnappings, and robberies, cannot be explained unless the methodologies of the NCRB are looked at, said police officials.
Another senior police official suggested that drastic rise could be owing to three dramatic incidents that took place in 2016 — farmers’ protest in March when thousands marched towards the Chief Minister’s office; garment workers’ protest in April that led to lathicharge and rioting; and, the September Cauvery riots in the city.
“In the Cauvery riots, 1,500 cases were filed. These three incidents could have led to increase of around 3,000 to 4,000 cases under various heads of NCRB, including damaging public property, arson, unlawful assembly, among others,” said the official.
This could have some credence, considering that rioting increased by 40%, arson by 38%, shows the report.
However, there is hope, as better evidence collection over the years seems to be paying off. Conviction rate in 2016 has been better for the State and city when compared to last year.
Across the State, the conviction rate is 51.5% among crimes under the Indian Penal Code, a stark increase from 38.6% seen in 2015. Around 89,000 cases were disposed of by various courts in 2016. The Bengaluru police have managed a higher conviction rate of 61.6% in 2016.
Take for instance, economic offences that include cheating, forgery and others. The city police have managed to secure just 11 convictions in the 612 cases that were disposed in the last year. Under the Anti-corruption Act, aimed at bureaucrats and politicians, the State saw just 27% conviction in the 261 cases that were disposed of in courts.
State second in cases under Dowry Prohibition Act
(Tanu Kulkarni reports from Bengaluru)
The State ranks second in the number of cases booked under the Dowry Prohibition Act, second only to Uttar Pradesh. However, the densely-populated Uttar Pradesh has a lower rate of incidence, of just 2.8 cases (crimes per 1 lakh population) than Karnataka which has 5.5 cases of violence against women.
The Dowry Prohibition Act has seen 1,698 cases being registered in the State and 727 in Bengaluru.
Incidentally, Bengaluru accounts for 83% of the total cases for metropolitan cities under the Act, something police officers attribute to filing of stringent sections to ensure stricter punishment. The city ranks fourth in dowry deaths with 57 cases being reported.
Overall, in crimes against women, the State has seen 14,131 cases.
However, conviction rate remains abysmal. The State has a conviction rate of just 4.7% in crimes against women, with just 271 resulting in convictions, and 5,543 cases resulting in acquittal. Bengaluru is worse off in this regard, with a conviction rate of just 3.5%, that is, just 32 out of 921 ending in jail term for the accused, while 889 cases have resulted in acquittal.
The rate for the metropolis is among the lowest in the country. Even Delhi (30%), Ghaziabad (50.8%), and Kanpur (53%) have better conviction rates.
For crimes against children, the conviction rate goes up only marginally higher, at 12.5% in Karnataka and 11.5% in Bengaluru. As many 282 children (below 18 years) were arrested under IPC crimes.
By booking 51 cases under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 in 2016, the State comes second after Tamil Nadu where 55 cases have been registered. Experts point out that this is the result of “robust” monitoring mechanism by the State government with the help of several non-governmental organisations.
Rise in caste-based crimes
This year again, the State and Bengaluru tops the list in cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
With 1,741 cases, Karnataka has registered nearly 30% of the country’s cases, Bengaluru has reported 199 cases or nearly 45% of the total cases filed in metropolitan cities, shows NCRB data.
Police attribute this to better coordination between the community and the police (through monthly SC/ST grievance meetings in most districts) as well as proactiveness to file cases under the section.
However, conviction rates tell another story. For instance, in Bengaluru, of the 28 cases that have completed trial in 2016, in not one case could the city police secure a conviction. 335 cases remain pending. Similarly, in the State, conviction rate was just 2.8% in the 778 cases that finished their trial in the court in 2016.