By Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Sep 4:
Every day, five rape cases are reported in Odisha, where violence targeting women is on the rise, with the eastern state now earning the dubious distinction of figuring among the top 10 in the country in crimes against women, official data says.
Signalling that women are no longer safe in the state, Odisha has moved up to the sixth spot in the number of rape cases recorded in 2014. It is placed only one rung lower among all the states with regard to the gang-rapes registered last year, according to the 2014 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report.
What is more disconcerting for the people of Odisha is neighbouring states Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are better off as far as crimes against women are concerned.
In 2014, 14,606 cases of crimes against women were registered in Odisha, while Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh recorded 5,972 cases and 6,255 cases respectively, the NCRB report said.
As if that’s not enough, Odisha now features among the top seven states that recorded maximum cases of gang-rape in the country – with 1,978 rapes and 82 gang-rapes registered in 2014.
Madhya Pradesh has been ‘ranked’ number one by the NCRB for the maximum number of rape cases – 5,076 – last year.
Rajasthan ranks second with 3,759 cases, closely followed by Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra with 3,467 and 3,438, respectively. Assam recorded 1,980 rape cases.
Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of gang-rapes (573), while Rajasthan registered the second highest (414), followed by Madhya Pradesh (284), Haryana (230), West Bengal (178), Maharashtra (126) and Odisha (82).
According to a White Paper tabled in the assembly last July, while rape cases stood at 1,832 in 2013, the figures were 1,458 and 1,112 in 2012 and 2011 respectively.
While 7,933 instances of sexual offence have been registered in the state, there were 5,543 cases of assault on women with intent to outrage their modesty, in addition to 802 cases of sexual harassment.
Besides, there were 1,142 cases of assault or use of criminal force on women with intent to disrobe under Section 354B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), said the NCRB report, which also noted 646 cases were registered under the Dowry Prevention Act, 1961.
Data available with the NCRB reveals that 32 cases have come under the purview of the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act.
Kidnapping and abduction of women have also been on the rise in Odisha, which recorded 2,436 cases including 1,313 dealing with compelling girls to marriage, said the report.
Police officers attributed the high figures to the burgeoning population and claimed crimes against women were comparatively less in Odisha than in many other states.
“It is a normal trend, nothing alarming. The crime figure against women is much less than in states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh,” Director General of Police (DGP) Sanjeev Marik told IANS.
He argued that rise in population was directly proportional to the crime rate.
However, the opposition parties were quick to blame the state government for the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.
“In Odisha, our mothers and sisters are not safe following the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. The laxity of the government is solely responsible for the increasing trend of crimes against women,” BJP legislature party leader Basant Panda told IANS.
Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Prasad Harichandan said the government had failed to provide protection to women.
“Despite the chief minister holding the reins of the home department, the state is reeling under a precarious law and order situation. Police officers are executing their duty on whims and fancies and have turned out to be his master’s voice of political bosses,” Harichandan said.
“While six rape cases are reported every day, there are amazingly only six convictions in a year. It means the rate of conviction is abysmally lower than the rate of crime. Such a shocking indicator speaks volumes about the inefficiency of the state government,” said leader of opposition Narasingh Mishra.
(Chinmay Dehury can be contacted at [email protected] )