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Kidnapped for Camel Racing – The Curious Case of NCRB Data (Part 2)

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In part 1, we looked at the issue of young children being trafficked for camel racing in detail. In this story, we look at the data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). It is intriguing that the victims in India (as per NCRB data) are from a very different age group and gender defying global trend. This inconsistency across the years may well be a case of improper registration of the crime at the Police Station.

Background

In the previous story, we discussed at length, the cruel practice of trafficking young boys aged below 10 years to UAE, to serve as Camel Jockeys and the human rights abuse involved in the sport.

When we came to know about the brutalities suffered by children of our neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Pakistan serving as camel riders, we decided to dig deep and find out about the impact this sport had on Indian Children.

The research that started out to understand the issue of child trafficking for Camel Racing in India took us to a whole new unexpected territory, which will be discussed in this article.

The Peculiar Turn of Events

The data pertaining to kidnapping (for the purpose of camel racing) was in the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) records. To get a better picture of the issue and the prevalence of this crime in India, an RTI application was filed with the Ministry of Home Affairs which was in turn routed to NCRB.

We requested for information about the number of cases registered under ‘Kidnapping for the purpose of Camel Racing’ under IPC section 363 listed year wise, state wise, age wise, and gender wise. We requested the data for the period since camel racing was categorised as a crime subhead under IPC section 363. We were provided with data from 1999 till 2014.

The following data was provided by NCRB.

Year State No. of Cases Age group & Gender-wiseTotal Cases (A+B)
10yrs – 15yrs(A) 15yrs- 50yrs (B)
FemaleMaleFemaleMale
1999Andhra Pradesh56
Maharashtra1
2000Andhra Pradesh24
Mizoram11
2007Andhra Pradesh33
2010Karnataka22
2011Jharkhand44
2012Gujarat7070
2013Andhra Pradesh23
Bihar1
2014
TOTAL1190092

Note: No kidnapping cases for the purpose of camel racing were registered for the years 2001 to 2006, and in 2009, hence those years are excluded from the table. child camel jockers - number of cases_opt
What does the Data tell us?

  • Only one boy in the age group of 10-15 years was kidnapped from 1999 to 2014
  • 90 women in the age group of 18-50 years and one in the age group of 10-15 years were kidnapped from 1999 to 2014.
  • 2012 saw a sudden spurt in the number of cases (70). All these cases were reported from Gujarat alone. All of the victims were women and in the age group of 18-50 years.
  • Frequency of the crime has been high in Andhra Pradesh. Of the 8 years that Camel Racing crimes were registered, Andhra Pradesh reported cases in 4 of the 8 years. child camel jockers - age group of victims_opt

Incongruence of the data with the purported crime

The genesis of trafficking and abuse of little boys (aged below 10) as camel riders is due to the sole fact that the speed at which a camel can run is greatly determined by the weight it has to carry and to ensure that camels can run their best, the lightest or smallest riders are preferred. This is why boys below 10 years are the victims of trafficking for camel racing.

But the data at hand suggests otherwise, 91 of the 92 who were kidnapped were women, that too in an age group of 18-50 years, which is definitely not the age group sought by the camel owners for camel jockeys.

To be sure of our premise that only little boys are used as camel riders in competitive races, we researched extensively to find any source that talks of girl camel riders and also spoke various experts. True to our premise, neither did we find any source that spoke of girl camel riders in competitive races nor did any of the NGOs and activists hear of any girls/women being trafficked for camel races. We also didn’t come across any instance of adults being used as camel jockeys in competitive races.

This raises serious questions about the veracity of the NCRB data related to Kidnappings, further deepening and confirming our suspicion that the data maybe inaccurate. In 2005, UAE backed by UNICEF banned child jockeys and launched an intensive rehabilitation & repatriation programme. Owing to the ban and also due to the increased use of light weight robots as jockeys, child trafficking for camel races saw a sharp decline. But as per NCRB data, in 2012 (post the ban by UAE), there has been a sudden rise in the number of cases compared to all the previous years.

Summing up, firstly, the universal and consistent trend of demographics pertaining to victims of trafficking for camel racing has not been consistent with the Indian data.

Secondly, the timeline of the occurrence and spike in the crime is also inconsistent with global data and trends.

These two reasons are good enough to conclude that the NCRB data in this context may be inaccurate.

Why this Inaccuracy?

There could be three possible explanations for the inaccuracy in data which are detailed below.

1. Improper definition of the crime – Kidnapping for the purpose of Camel Racing

Kidnapping under IPC section 363 is classified under various subheads based on the purpose of the kidnapping i.e., Camel racing, begging and prostitution etc. Each subhead, when categorized, has to be defined by the law properly. In the sense, it has to be clearly defined as to which action constitutes ‘kidnapping for begging/camel racing’ and how it is different from other sub heads. Since reporting data under a particular category is at the discretion of the Police at the lowest level, there is every possibility of arbitrariness creeping into the system.

From the data, it is clear that, in almost all cases across years, women have been listed as the victims. This improper repeated registration of adult women as victims of ‘camel races kidnapping’ makes us wonder if the crime has been defined properly in the first place.

2. Negligence (or) Purposeful improper registration of crimes by the Police

As discussed, there is enough scope for discretion in the registration of such crimes. It could simply be a case of negligence on part of the police officials in registering the cases. It could also be that the Police purposefully registered the cases improperly, possibly even creating a cover up for a far more serious crime.

Women kidnapping and trafficking has been a grave problem that has been plaguing India for a while now. The fact that the almost all the victims in this case are adult women and are in a vulnerable age group, makes us believe that these cases could possibly be instances of trafficking of women for prostitution, forcible marriage, ransom or even begging which otherwise have been registered as kidnapped for camel racing.

The following table captures the details of punishment awarded to different types of kidnapping cases

CrimeMaximum Punishment
IPC 363 – Kidnapping and Abduction(including for the purpose of Camel Racing)7 years + fine
IPC 364A – Kidnapping or Abducting in order to murderDeath or Life+fine
366 A,B,C- Abduction and compelling girl for marriage; procuration of minor girl; importation of girl from foreign country10 years + fine
IPC 370 – Trafficking of PersonsLife + fine
IPC 372 – Selling minors for the purpose of prostitution10 years + fine
IPC 373 – Buying Minors for purpose of Prostitution10 years + fine

Point to be noted here is that kidnapping under IPC section 363(under which the camel races cases have been booked according to NCRB data) entails a maximum punishment of 7 years with fine, while crimes of women trafficking under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention act (1956) or IPC section 370 entails a maximum punishment of 14 years with fine, and under IPC section 364A kidnapping to murder levies a maximum punishment of Death penalty or Life.

So, there is also every possibility that these cases registered under camel racing were in fact cases of women trafficking (or) kidnapping for ransom disguised and improperly registered as kidnappings for camel racing so as to help the perpetrators escape a higher quantum of punishment.

3. Improper Data Records

The following is the flow of data from the Police Station to the NCRB. NCRB uses a template that has to be filled out by authorities at each level which finally reaches NCRB.

child camel jockers - improper data records_opt

There are three levels at which the data is compiled and transferred to the next level before it finally reaches NCRB. This is a very manual process with the onus of data accuracy clearly with the officials at each level. If any negligence creeps in at any level, the data is compromised and errors simply percolate upwards.

Assuming this is true, officials who were responsible to compile and collect the data made a mistake in documenting the kidnappings for 8 years repeatedly and also managed to falsely attribute 70 cases in 2012 alone.

Incidentally, this is not a standalone case where NCRB data was questioned. The Accidental Deaths and Suicides India (ADSI) Report of 2014 reported that farmer suicides witnessed a dramatic fall of 67% in the last five years. This created uproar among activists, journalists and other stakeholders. Going a step further according to ADSI 2014, the three big farming states West Bengal, Bihar and Rajasthan reported zero farmer suicides.

Implications of Inaccurate Data

If any of the above assumptions is true, then there are grave implications of such data inaccuracy.

  • The crime was categorised in India specifically to combat child trafficking for camel races. There were also newspaper reports of Indian boys being sent to UAE to work as jockeys. The absence of any information about the actual victims in the NCRB records is quite shocking. It makes us wonder if the law made to protect the victims, actually did serve the purpose.
  • Camel Racing is a very age and a gender specific crime and hence an aberration in the data was very easily noticeable and verifiable. There could be so many crimes across the system that are misreported or improperly registered in the first place that are very difficult to scourge and also importantly, difficult to prove their falsity.
  • If negligence or purposeful improper registration of crimes is assumed to be true, this spells nothing short of doom for the common man. Chilling accounts of corrupt police registering false cases to harass the victims or to protect the perpetrators have been around long enough. Camel racing kidnapping cases is just another instance to confirm the much talked about police corruption and sheer negligence.
  • If the last possibility of NCRB improperly documenting these crimes is true, then this instance is another addition to the ever rising list of inaccurate data records with NCRB.

When inconsistencies crop up, we take refuge in facts and try to find answers. But here in this case ‘facts’ have left us with more questions than answers. Either or all of the possibilities could be true or could be false, but we can only speculate the probable scenarios. The only fact this research establishes beyond doubt is that there are systemic errors that have to be taken care of and taken care of at the earliest.

The 92 kidnappings for Camel Races reported across 8 years might not be a pressing issue, but digging deeper, the implications of such improper registration of cases has to be dealt with very urgently.

Author’s Note: The author would like to add that, many efforts were made to understand the presence of the supposed flawed data. We got in touch with women’s rights activists in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat to inquire and understand if there were any instances of trafficking for girl camel riders. None of the activists had heard of any sort of women trafficking/kidnapping for camel racing. We also spoke with law makers and police officials to get a better picture of the mystery this data began to become, and they replied in negative as well.

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