The recent incident in Hathras highlighted the issue of atrocities against the marginalized communities, especially the SCs. Data from the NCRB indicates that the reported atrocities against SCs increased by around 19% between 2015 & 2019. Rajasthan reported the highest crime rate in atrocities against SCs.
The recent incident of alleged rape and murder in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, has not only brought discussion around women safety to the centre stage but also the issue of caste-based discrimination & violence. There are allegations that the actions of police and the public authorities are influenced by the caste of the victim. In the Hathras incident, the victim belongs to the scheduled caste while the alleged perpetrators belong to an influential caste. Other similar incidents were reported from Uttar Pradesh and other states like Rajasthan.
While the opposition parties have raised the issue of increasing crimes against women and against individuals belonging to the marginalized communities under the current government in UP, there are similar allegations & incidents in few of the other states where the opposition is in power.
In this story, we take a look at the trends in reporting of Crimes/Atrocities against the Scheduled Castes (SCs) over the years and across the states. The data is collated from the NCRB’s (National Crime Records Bureau) annual Crime in India (CII) reports.
Number of reported crimes against SCs increased by 19% since 2015
In addition to IPC crimes w.r.t SC/ST PoA, all the non-IPC crimes under this act along with crimes booked under Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 (PCR) are also included in the NCRB report.
As per NCRB data, a total of 45,935 cases were registered for crimes/atrocities against SCs in the year 2019. These cases included all the IPC crimes that fall under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act) commonly known as the SC/ST PoA i.e. crimes committed against the SCs by non-SCs. Any of the crimes against SCs that fall only under IPC are not recorded under this category by NCRB because these crimes are committed by SCs against SCs.
In 2015, a total of 38.6 thousand crimes were recorded under these provisions which increased to 45.9 thousand in 2019, an increase of 19%.
Although UP reported highest number of these crimes, crime rate is the highest in Rajasthan
As per the 2011 census, there are around 20 crore persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs). In 2019, a total of 11.8 thousand crimes against SCs were recorded in Uttar Pradesh, which is more than a quarter of the total crimes against SCs in the country. Even in the earlier years, the number of such cases reported from UP is the highest among the states. In view of the recent Hathras incident, this statistic has been widely reported.
However, it has to be noted that UP also has the highest SC population in the country. The total SC population in UP as per 2011 census is 4.13 crores i.e. 20% of the total SC population in the country. In terms of the number of crimes reported with respect to the SC population, UP reported 28.6 crimes per lakh of SC population in 2019.
It ranks sixth in terms of crime rate in this category. Rajasthan has the highest Crime Rate of atrocities committed against the SCs with 55.6 crimes per one lakh SC population. In 2019, around 6.7 thousand crimes against SCs were reported from Rajasthan which also happens to be the second highest in the country. In terms of SC population, Rajasthan has 1.22 crore SCs i.e. the 5th highest in the country.
Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Telangana are among the states with a high Crime Rate against SCs. Meanwhile, West Bengal which has the second highest SC population in India with 2.14 crores has recorded only 119 instances of crimes against SCs in 2018 (As per NCRB, data was not provided for 2019. However, the trend is same even in the earlier years).
The specific crime for over 30% of the reported cases is ambiguous
A major portion of the Crimes against SCs were reported are under different sections of category named ‘Simple Hurt’. In 2019, there were 13.2 thousand cases reported under this category, similar to what was reported even in 2017 & 2018. Bihar reported a major share of cases under this category.
The numbers reported in 2019 for various categories confine to the trends observed in the previous years.
- Rape and various sections under Assault on Women (intent to Outrage her Modesty) are the other major categories under which the greatest number of cases were reported with around 3.4 thousand and 3.3 thousand respectively. Among the various IPC sections that are under Assault on Women (intent to Outrage her Modesty), a major portion of the reported cases are ‘Assault on Women’ compared to other crimes like Stalking, Voyeurism, Insult etc.
- Nearly 1/3rd (33%) of the rape cases reported against SC women, are committed against children (1117). In comparison, amongst the number of rape cases reported against women across all groups, those against children constitute 15%.
- Among other categories under IPC, Criminal Intimidation (Section 506 IPC) also accounts for many of the reported crimes.
- Among the offences booked only under SC/ST PoA, majority are booked under Intentional Insult/intimidate with intent to Humiliate. Cases of Criminal Intimidation are around 6.5% of the Cases booked under crimes against SCs, while it constitutes around 3.5% of the total IPC crimes across groups.
Around 15 thousand of the reported cases are categorized under ‘others’ both for Crimes under SC/ST PoA w.r.t IPC (13 thousand) and those booked only under SC/ST PoA ( 2 thousand). It means there is great ambiguity around the reasons in a large number of cases. In both Uttar Pradesh & Rajasthan, which reported highest number of cases, a major portion of the crimes are reported under this category.
Scope for Under reporting the crimes committed against Scheduled Castes
In a report titled ‘Access to Justice for Dalits in India’, published by National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), the challenges faced by victims of the marginalized communities to get a case registered with the police for a crime committed against them, are highlighted.
These include among others – discouraging the victims to not register cases through threatening, arranging for compromise, avoid registering cases against perpetrators etc.
In a BPRD report, which we have referred to in earlier stories, it is indicated that there is a prevalence of under reporting in these cases. Under reporting is more in those crimes which are less evident. A cursory look at the major crime heads for the crimes committed against SCs reveal them to be – Rape, Assault on Women, Rioting, Grievous Hurt, Kidnaping and Murder etc., the crimes which are more evident. As indicated earlier, the number of cases reported under ‘Assault on Women’ and ‘Rape’ is much higher than the ones reported under more non-evident crimes against women including stalking, harassment etc.
The study ‘Access to Justice for Dalits in India’ points to avoiding registration of cases against the perpetrators, which could explain the disproportionately higher number of cases under ‘Simple Hurt’.
The actual number of crimes is difficult to estimate in the wake of widespread under reporting. This also raises serious questions around the numbers being reported officially. Even among the reported cases, many of them are being categorized as ‘other IPC Crimes’. This also raises serious questions over the quality of reporting.
In the next story, we would look at the disposal of cases related to crimes against Scheduled castes by the Police and the Courts, which could through more light on the state of justice to the marginalized communities.
Featured Image: Atrocities against Scheduled Castes