Assam Witnesses 37.4% Increase in Crimes Against Children in Last 3 Years
• Assam saw 37.41% increase in number of crimes against children from 2016-18
• 3, 964 cases were registered in Assam in 2016, 4,951 in 2017 and 5,447
• A total of 49 cases were recorded under child trafficking in 2018
• Assam’s percentage state share to all India is 3.4 %
• Police blame lack of manpower for low disposal rate
• Activists call for better scheme implementation and strengthening child protection system
Assam saw a 37.41 per cent increase in the number of crimes against children from 2016 to 2018. This was revealed in the recently released data by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
As per the ‘Crime in India 2018’ report by the NCRB, Assam recorded 5,447 cases of crimes against children in 2018. The state has seen a consistent increase in crimes against children the over the past three years. A total of 3, 964 cases of crimes were registered against children in Assam in 2016. This rose to 4,951 in 2017 which further increased to 5,447 registered cases in 2018.
The crimes are categorised under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Special Local Laws (SLL) such as murder, kidnapping and abduction, infanticide, foeticide, missing children and child trafficking among others.
Assam saw 49 cases in total registered under child trafficking in 2018 while eight cases were recorded for selling of minors for prostitution.
As per the latest NCRB data, Assam’s percentage state share to all India is 3.4 per cent.
On the other hand, the state recorded 1721 cases under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Further, the NCRB report states that 4,899 cases of crimes against children were pending for investigation from the previous year in 2018. This added with the new cases reported during the year added up to 10,346 total cases to be investigated in 2018. Further, no case was re-opened for investigation in 2018 by the police.
Additionally, out of the total cases of crimes against children in Assam, the police prepared charge sheets in 3,334 cases, whereas, the state police managed to dispose off 5,183 cases during 2018. This left a total of 5,163 cases which were pending for disposal at the end of the year. Assam had 49.9 per cent pending for disposal, which is higher than the national average of 33.9 per cent for 2018.
When asked about the reasons for the large number of cases pending for disposal, police officials claimed that the primary cause for this is the lack of adequate manpower.
Pointing to other causes for this, Mousumi Kalita, former in-charge of the all women’s police station in Guwahati told G Plus, “Sometimes, since the victims are children, we cannot force them for their statements since they are often scared and traumatised. In a lot of cases, we have seen that the parents of the victims too, do not want them to come forward and do not cooperate during investigation. These are the reasons due to which the case gets delayed.”
She further added that in some cases, when the accused is absconding, the police take some time to apprehend them. This especially, happens when the cases are reported late, mentioned Kalita.
On the other hand, activists feel that the consistent increase in the number of cases of crimes against children is due to the twin factors of increase in the incidence of crimes as well as better reporting of such crimes.
City-based child rights activist, Miguel Das Queah informed, “These are only reported cases and a lot of cases go unreported. While the NCRB takes into account some crimes against children, they miss out on other cases of violence against children. For example, cases related to child marriage are still not shown as a crime, then corporal punishment, cruelty against children are not reflected as crimes.”
He added that what is shown in the NCRB is merely “the tip of the iceberg.”
Queah added that the report nonetheless shows that the magnitude of crimes against children is huge in Assam. He also called for better implementation of policies by the authorities as well as strengthening of the child protection system in the state.