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Of Crime and Development

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  24 Feb 2016 12:00 AM GMT

Of late, we have had countless hoardings and advertisement display units all over the State proclaiming “15 years of trust and 15 years of development.” This is a claim that the Congress party is making before the coming Assembly elections. The cost of this proclamation is obviously not billed to the Congress party, but rather to the government of Assam. However, our present concern is not so much about who is footing bills for the ruling party’s election campaign. We have reasons to be far more concerned about whether there can be real development of a State (the mere construction of roads and buildings does not constitute development for most people) in a situation where the crime rate has shot up by leaps and bounds in a matter of 15 years. We are of the firm opinion that real development leads to a perceptible decline in crime rates for several reasons. During the last 15 years, there is perhaps just one crime where the number involved has been more or less uniform over the years. And that is because the rate for this crime is already high for a State like ours. We are referring to murder. The number of murders was 1,367 in 2001, 1,321 in 2011 and 1,478 in 2014. In 2015, the number of murders committed in the State was down by more than 100 again at 1,333. But look at other crimes like kidpping. In 2001, the number of kidppings was 1,454. In 2006, there were 1,818 kidppings. In 2011, 10 years after the rule of the present government, the figure rose to 3,785—more than double the figure for 2006. By 2015, the number of kidppings stood at 6,103—more than four times the figure for 2001. The crime rate involving vehicle theft is perhaps the most spectacular. In 2001, there were just 493 vehicle thefts. By 2006, the figure rose to 1,597—more than three times the number in 2001. By 2011, the number of vehicle thefts rose to 2,789, and in 2015 the number of stolen vehicles rose to 4,029, after a mild dip from the figure of 4,154 in 2014. In other words, the number of vehicles stolen in 2015, was more than eight times the number stolen in 2001. We also have the unenviable record of getting 11 vehicles stolen every day of the year! This marks phenomel development in theft of vehicles in a matter of just 14 years in a period hailed by the Congress as one of unprecedented development in the State. There are no readily available figures of major crimes like rape and lesser crimes like cheating. However, the overall picture of crime in the State, especially crimes relating to women, is a familiar one that forces us to hang our heads down in shame.

What is perhaps far more significant in reflecting the efficiency of the administration is the number of riots during the last 15 years. According to official statistics, a total of 6,658 cases were registered by the police in connection with riots in which 535 persons, including 45 children and 80 women, lost their lives. Of these, the police have submitted charge sheets in just 159 cases, while the total report was given in 3,594 cases. 12 cases were handed over to Central agencies for investigation and 2,358 cases were amalgamated with other cases. The police have made 1,518 arrests so far in cases relating to eight riots in the State. Of these, the Bodo-Bangladeshi Muslim clashes of 2012 that resulted in 109 killings, was the deadliest of riots affecting the State. A State that is still carrying on probes in 535 riot cases since 2001, reflects sloppy investigations, a poor case disposal rate and lax policing. How can any government talk about ‘development’ in such an ambience of crime. All development is for human beings and must have a human face. There can be no real development in a State that is steeped both in crime and rampant corruption and where 535 riot cases can be kept pending for 15 years. There can only be illusions of development.

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