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Assam goes slow in punishing culprits



GUWAHATI, March 31: Assam, traditiolly known for putting women on a high pedestal, has ironically gone slow when it comes to convicting those committing crimes of various shades against the fairer sex, thus exposing the failure of the State mechanism to safeguard the dignity of women. 

As per the reports of the tiol Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), conviction rates on cases relating to crimes against women in Assam were 20.5 per cent, 19.5 per cent and 16.2 per cent in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. In the same years, the tiol conviction rates on the same kinds of crimes were 28 per cent, 29.4 per cent and 25.5 per cent respectively. The statistics have made it clear that conviction rates of people committing crimes against women in Assam are below than the tiol average. The NCRB is yet to make figures on crimes against women and conviction rates for 2017 public. 

According to the NCRB reports, Assam had registered 19,169 cases of crimes against women in 2014. Police had arrested 27,667 people in connection with such cases, out of which 11,943 were chargesheeted and only 556 were convicted. 

In 2015, 23,365 cases of crimes against women were registered in different parts of Assam, and police arrested 22,867 people. Out of those arrested, 12,593 were chargesheeted and only 781 were convicted. 

The scene more or less remained similar with the police registering 20,869 cases of crimes against women in 2016 and arresting  21,738 people. Out of those arrested, 11,589 people were chargesheeted and only 475 were convicted.

While the erstwhile Congress regime could not initiate strong measures to curb crimes against women, the State continued to remain unsafe for women even after the BJP-led government came to power in 2016. At least 1,552 rape cases were registered in the State in 2016-17. Some 1,457 rape cases were recorded between January 2017 and January 2018. Out of the 3,009 rape cases reported, only 1,786 people have been arrested and chargesheets were issued against 1,697. However, only 76 have been convicted so far. This data was provided in the State Assembly recently.

The Assam Government recently wrote to the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court requesting him to set up fast-track courts to conduct trials against those committing heinous crimes such as rape and murder against women, and the high court accordingly gave a positive response by deciding to set up such courts across the State. However, the Union Home Ministry had issued advisories to all States and Union Territories on September 4, 2009 and March 20 and April 12 in 2015 to conduct thorough investigation of such cases in a very fast manner and file chargesheets against the accused within three months from the dates of occurrence of such crimes. The Ministry had warned that the quality of investigation of such cases must not be compromised. But the State had failed to act on such advisories, sources said.