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Crime in India

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Crime is present in various forms in India. Organized crime include drug trafficking, gunrunning, money laundering, extortion, murder for hire, fraud, human trafficking and poaching. Many criminal operations engage in black marketeering, political violence, religiously motivated violence, terrorism, and abduction. Other crimes are homicide, robbery, assault etc. Property crimes include burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Corruption is a significant problem.

Illegal drug trade

India is located between two major illicit opium producing centres in Asia - the Golden Crescent comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran and the Golden Triangle comprising Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.[1] Because of such geographical location, India experiences large amount of drug trafficking through the borders.[2] India is the world's largest producer of licit opium.[3] But opium is diverted to illicit international drug markets.[3] India is a transshipment point for heroin from Southwest Asian countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan and from Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand.[4] Heroin is smuggled from Pakistan and Burma, with some quantities transshipped through Nepal.[4] Most heroin shipped from India are destined for Europe.[4] There have been reports of heroin smuggled from Mumbai to Nigeria for further export.[4] In Maharashtra, Mumbai is an important centre for distribution of drug.[5] The most commonly used drug in Mumbai is Indian heroin (called desi mal by the local population).[5] Both public transportation (road and rail transportation) and private transportation are used for this drug trade.[5]

Several measures have been taken by the Government of India to combat drug trafficking in the country. India is a party of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), the Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971), the Protocol Amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1972) and the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988).[6]

Arms trafficking

According to a joint report published by Oxfam, Amnesty International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) in 2006, there are around 40 million illegal small arms in India out of approximately 75 million in worldwide circulation.[7] Majority of the illegal small arms make its way into the states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.[7] In India, an used AK-47 costs $3,800 in black market.[8] Large amount of illegal small arms are manufactured in various illegal arms factories in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and sold on the black market for as little as $5.08.[7] Chinese pistols are in demand in the illegal small arms market in India because they are easily available and cheaper.[7] This trend poses a significant problem for the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh which are affected by Naxalism.[7] The porous Indo-Nepal border is an entry point for Chinese pistols, AK-47 and M-16 rifles into India as these arms are used by the Naxalites who have ties to Maoists in Nepal.[7]

Poaching and wildlife trafficking

Illegal wildlife trade in India has increased.[9] According to a report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in 2004, India is the chief target for the traders of wildlife skin.[10] Between 1994 and 2003, there have been 784 cases where the skins of tiger, leopard or otter have been seized.[10] Leopards, rhinoceros, reptiles, birds, insects, rare species of plants are being smuggled into the countries in Southeast Asia and the People's Republic of China.[9] Between 1994 and 2003, poaching and seizure of 698 otters have been documented in India.[10] Kathmandu is a key staging point for illegal skins smuggled from India bound for Tibet and PRC.[10] The report by EIA noted there has been a lack of cross-border cooperation between India, Nepal and the People's Republic of China to coordinate enforcement operations and lack of political will to treat wildlife crime effectively.[10] The poaching of the elephants is a significant problem in Southern India[11] and in the North-Eastern states of Nagaland and Mizoram.[12] The majority of tiger poaching happens in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.[13]

Project Tiger, a wildlife conservation project, was initiated in 1972 and was launched by Indira Gandhi on April 1, 1973.[14] With 23 tiger reserves, Project Tiger claimed to have succeeded.[14] But according to critics like conservationist Billy Arjan Singh, temporary increases in tiger population were caused by immigration due to destruction of habitat in Nepal, not because of the widely acclaimed success of wildlife policy in India.[14]

Cyber crime

Cases of spam, computer hacking, cyber stalking and email fraud are rampant in India.[15] The Information Technology Act 2000 was passed by the Parliament of India in May 2000, aiming to curb cyber crimes and provide a legal framework for e-commerce transactions.[16] However Pavan Duggal, lawyer of Supreme Court of India and cyber law expert, viewed "The IT Act, 2000, is primarily meant to be a legislation to promote e-commerce. It is not very effective in dealing with several emerging cyber crimes like cyber harassment, defamation, stalking and so on".[15] Although cyber crime cells have been set up in major cities, Duggal noted the problem is that most cases remain unreported due to a lack of awareness.[15] In 2001, India and United States had set up an India-US cyber security forum as part of a counter-terrorism dialogue.[17] In 2006, India and the US agreed to enhance cooperation between law enforcement agencies of the two countries in tackling cyber crimes as part of counter-terrorism efforts.[17] A joint US-India statement released in 2006 after talks between US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stressed that in view of the importance of cyber security and cyber forensic research, the two countries are also carrying out discussions on a draft protocol on cyber security.[17]

Corruption and police misconduct

Corruption is widespread in India. It is prevalent within every section and every level of the society.[18] Corruption has taken the role of a pervasive aspect of Indian politics.[19] In India, corruption takes the form of bribes, evasion of tax and exchange controls, embezzlement, etc.

Despite state prohibitions against torture and custodial misconduct by the police, torture is widespread in police custody, which is a major reason behind deaths in custody.[20][21] The police often torture innocent people until a 'confession' is obtained to save influential and wealthy offenders.[22] G.P. Joshi, the programme coordinator of the Indian branch of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in New Delhi comments that the main issue at hand concerning police violence is a lack of accountability of the police.[23]

In 2006, the Supreme Court of India in an judgment in the Prakash Singh vs. Union of India case, ordered central and state governments with seven directives to begin the process of police reform. The main objectives of this set of directives was twofold, providing tenure to and streamlining the appointment/transfer processes of policemen, and increasing the accountability of the police.[24]

In 2006, seven policemen were charge sheeted and eleven were convicted[25] for custodial misconduct.

Crimes against foreigners

Tourist locations and markets are visited by criminals looking to target foreigners.[26]

Because foreigners have a purchasing power that is relatively large than the general population, they are often the preferred target for robbery and other serious crimes.[26]

In April 1999, Swaraj Damree, a tourist from Mauritius was befriended by a group of Indians who later held him captive for 25 days. They robbed him of cash amounting to US$1,500, took his traveller's cheques, wrist watch, gold chain, bracelet, two bags and suitcase.[27] In 2000, two German trekkers were shot in Himachal Pradesh. A few weeks later, two Spanish tourists were killed by robbers in the same state.[28] Many foreign tourists are victim of violent crime in Kolkata.[29] In September 2006, criminals robbed the wallet of a British woman in Kolkata.[29] The same month, a Japanese tourist was robbed on his way to Sudder Street.[29] In October 2006, a foreigner was robbed during the day on Park Street.[29]

Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, bag snatching etc. is widespread in India. Stealing of valuables from foreigners' luggage on trains and buses is common. Lone travelers become easy victims of pickpockets and purse snatchers, who usually work in crowded areas.[30]

Passport theft

In India, stealing of passport of foreigners from luggage on trains and buses is widespread.[31] Scams involving export of jewels occur in India, which target foreign citizens. Theft of U.S. passports is very common, especially in major tourist areas.[26][32]

Scam incidents

Many scams are perpetrated against foreign travelers, especially in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan.[26] Scams usually target younger foreign tourists and suggest them that money can be made by privately transporting gems or gold or by taking delivery abroad of expensive carpets avoiding customs duties.[26]

Such incidents pull the traveler over the course of several days and begin with a new scam artist who offers to show the foreign traveler the sights. They also offer cheap lodgings and meals to foreign travellers so that they can place the traveler in the physical custody of the scam artist and can leave the foreigner with threats and physical coercion. In the due process, the foreigner lose his passport.[26]

In 2006, an American became victim of a scam at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, by which she lost US $77.[33]

Taxi scam

There are also taxi scams present in India where a foreign traveler, who is not aware of the locations around Indian airports, is taken for a ride round the whole airport and charged for full-fare taxi ride while the terminal is only few hundred yards away.[30] Overseas Security Advisory Council in a report mentioned the process about how to avoid taxi-scam.[30]

of foreigners

Incidents of of foreign tourists at popular tourist spots is increasing in India.[34][35] In March 2006, Biti Mohanty, son of a senior police official in Orissa, d a German tourist in Alwar, Rajasthan.[36][37] A Japanese woman was d in Pushkar, Rajasthan on April 2, 2006.[38][39] In June 2007, a South Korean was d near Manali.[36] In September 2007, two Japanese women were gang-d in Agra,[36] a popular tourist-spot in India where the Taj Mahal is situated. The Indian state of Rajasthan is a popular destination among foreign tourists with one out of every three foreign travellers coming to India visit the state.[40] Bureau of Consular Affairs warned US women not to travel alone in India.[32]

Crime over time

A report published by the National Crime Records Bureau compared crime rate from 1953 to 2006. The report noted burglary has been declined over a period of 53 years by 38% (from 1,47,379 in 1953 to 91,666 in 2006), whereas murder has increased by 231% (from 9,803 in 1953 to 32,481 in 2006).[41] Kidnapping has increased by 356% (from 5,261 in 1953 to 23,991 in 2006), robbery by 120% (from 8,407 in 1953 to 18,456 in 2006) and riots by 176% (from 20,529 in 1953 to 56,641 in 2006).[41]

In 2006, 51,02,460 cognizable crimes were committed including 18,78,293 Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes and 32,24,167 Special & Local Laws (SLL) crimes, with an increase of 1.5% over 2005 (50,26,337).[25] IPC crime rate in 2006 was 167.7 compared to 165.3 in 2005 showing an increase of 1.5% in 2006 over 2005.[25] SLL crime rate in 2006 was 287.9 compared to 290.5 in 2005 showing an decline of 0.9% in 2006 over 2005.[25]

Year[41] Total cog. crimes under IPC Murder Kidnapping Robbery Burglary Riots
1953 6,01,964 9,802 5,261 8,407 1,47,379 20,529
2006 18,78,293 32,481 23,991 18,456 91,666 56,641
% Change in 2006 over 1953 212.0 231.0 356.0 120.0 -38.0 176.0

SOURCE: National Crime Records Bureau[41]

Crime by locale

Location has a significant impact on crime in India. In 2006, the highest crime rate was reported in Pondicherry (447.7%) for crimes under Indian Penal Code which is 2.7 times the national crime rate of 167.7%.[25] Kerala reported the highest crime rate at 312.5% among states.[25]

Kolkata (71.0%) and Madurai (206.2%) were the only two mega cities which reported less crime rate than their domain states West Bengal (79.0%) and Tamil Nadu (227.6%).[25] Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have accounted for 16.2%, 9.5% and 8.1% respectively of the total IPC crimes reported from 35 mega cities.[25] Indore reported the highest crime rate (769.1%) among the mega cities in India followed by Bhopal (719.5%) and Jaipur (597.1%).[25]

Jammu and Kashmir (33.7%), Manipur (33.0%), Assam (30.4%) and Daman and Diu and Pondicherry (29.4%) reported higher violent crime rate compared to 18.4% at national level.[25] Uttar Pradesh reported the highest incidence of violent crimes accounting for 12.1% of total violent crimes in India (24,851 out of 2,05,656) followed by Bihar with 11.8% (24,271 out of 2,05,6556).[25] Among 35 mega cities, Delhi reported 31.2% (533 out of 1,706) of total cases.[25] Madhya Pradesh has reported the highest number of cases (2,900) accounting for 15.0% of total such cases reported in the country.[25] Uttar Pradesh reported 16.9% (5,480 out of 32,481) of total murder cases in the country and 18.4% (4,997 out of 27,230) total attempt to murder cases.[25]


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  2. Caterina Gouvis Roman, Heather Ahn-Redding, Rita James Simon (2007). Illicit Drug Policies, Trafficking, and Use the World Over. Lexington Books. pp. p183. ISBN 0739120883 .
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  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 India home to 40 million illegal small-arms
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  9. 9.0 9.1 Illegal wildlife trade grows in India
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 The Tiger Skin Trail
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  12. Charles Santiapillai, Peter Jackson (1990). The Asian Elephant: An Action Plan for Its Conservation. pp. p30. ISBN 2880329973 .
  13. The situation in India
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 At least one tiger is killed by poachers every day
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Byte by Byte
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  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 India-US to counter cyber crime
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  19. Corruption in India
  20. Torture main reason of death in police custody The Tribune
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  22. Custodial deaths and torture in India Asian Legal Resource Centre
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  25. 25.00 25.01 25.02 25.03 25.04 25.05 25.06 25.07 25.08 25.09 25.10 25.11 25.12 25.13 Snapshots – 2006 National Crime Records Bureau
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  28. India's valley of death
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  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 "Crime & Safety Report: Chennai".
  31. "TRAVEL REPORT India".
  32. 32.0 32.1 "Consular Information Sheet: India". Bureau of Consular Affairs
  33. India Scam Targets Female Traveler
  34. Handle foreign tourists with care, DNA
  35. Crimes against tourists alarm tour operators, DNA
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 "Main accused arrested in Agra tourist case".
  37. Biti Mohanty's father gets showcause notice, DNA
  38. Another foreign tourist cries , The Times of India
  39. Japanese tourist alleges , The Hindu
  40. West India state troubled by case of foreign tourist
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 Snapshots (1953—2006) National Crime Records Bureau