How is Assam faring on the law and order front as far as women are concerned? The question came up in the winter session of the Assembly. In its reply, the State Home department furnished a set of figures that make alarming reading. For the last ten years, an average eight women have been kidpped every day in Assam. The actual figure from 2005 till November this year is 29,716. Within Guwahati itself, as many as 3,014 women were kidpped. Surely the majority of them did not elope with paramours, forcing their family members to lodge cases? This is the usual explation given by the police. The tiol Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) too in its latest data for the year 2014, has identified UP, Bihar and Assam as the three states accounting for nearly 50 percent of all kidppings for marriage. In fact, Assam is said to have the highest rate for this offence at 25 cases per 1 lakh of population. However, gangs of molesters or traffickers too abduct many women in broad daylight. Very few such perpetrators are ever caught and punished. They operate with impunity, and many a times, they are known to the policemen who do nothing. The Home department also informed that overall, the number of cases of violence against women in the past ten years stood at 74,128. The worst affected districts were gaon, Dhubri and Cachar. There were 1,419 dowry-related murders, 121 witch-hunting deaths and 90 killings after rape. The actual numbers of crimes against women in the State will surely be higher, as a police station is not a place for a faint-hearted woman to lodge a complaint, however victimised she might be. The atmosphere is intimidating and sometimes downright unfriendly in the average tha, with policemen on duty usually reluctant to register a complaint. Women constables are being recruited, but not in sufficient numbers in stations and outposts spread thinly across interior rural areas where women are the most vulnerable. Bihar, long perceived as a lawless state, has voted Nitish Kumar back for a third time with women voters appreciating his crackdown on crime. As for Assam with Tarun Gogoi on his third term and holding the Home department all along, women continue to be unsafe with little hope for those victimised to get justice.
Food for thought