13 Jan 2020: The Hindu Editorial Analysis
1) On NCRB’s Crime in India Report 2018: Matter of interpretation
- Only three months after the release of the much delayed “Crime in India report” for 2017, the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2018 report was unveiled last week.
- While the fact that this document has been made available so soon should be welcomed, this report, as with those for earlier years, carries the caveat that crime records and statistics are only as good as their reporting. Some States are better than others in tracking and registering crimes.
- This is why Kerala and the National Capital Region having the highest crime rates in the country - 1463.2 per one lakh population and 1342.5, respectively - is also a reflection of the fact that crime reporting, follow-up and subsequent steps in trial and punishment are much better undertaken in these two States/UTs.
- Yet, what should be worrying for the capital city region is that unlike Kerala, the number of cognisable crimes has steadily increased to 2,62,612 in 2018 from 2,16,920 in 2016.
- Better reporting could also perhaps explain why there is a 15% increase in the total crimes against women across all States, but the fact that this number went up by 66% in a large State such as Uttar Pradesh must be cause for concern. Conversely, crimes against women fell 20.8% after reaching a peak number of 17,222 in Delhi.
- It is well understood that the protests against the gangrape in Delhi in 2012 had significantly contributed to greater reporting of crimes against women. The fall in these numbers, corresponding to the general increase in crimes, could reflect the outcomes of better gender sensitisation in the capital region.
- Unlike crime numbers that are difficult to interpret due to registration and policing issues, the number of murders across States is a stark reflection of violent crime.
- The finding in the 2017 NCRB report that northeastern States such as Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya have a relatively higher murder rate compared to most States bears itself out in 2018 as well.
- Other States which have a worrisome record here include Jharkhand (4.6 murders per one lakh population, the highest in the country) and Haryana (3.9). Among cities, Patna (4.4) has an egregious murder rate.
- While protests and violence related to them have occupied the news cycle in the last month or so, data from the report suggest that there has been a marginal decrease in the total cases related to rioting from 2016 (61,974) to 2018 (57,828).
- Cases related to caste and communal/religious riots, political violence and agrarian conflicts registered a dip while there was an increase in industrial rioting and other personal disputes. Overall crime rate in India in 2018 increased marginally since 2016.
- Among cases registered as “offences against the State”, there has been an ominous increase under “sedition” with the number of those booked in 2018 double that of 2016, even as most such cases under this section came under the “Prevention of Damage of Public Property Act”; Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh led with nearly half of the overall cases.
2) On Iran shooting down Ukraine plane: Man-made disaster
- The shooting down of a passenger plane by Iran’s military on Wednesday, a few hours after it launched missile attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, is the most tragic outcome of the recent spike in U.S.-Iran tensions.
- The Ukrainian jet with 176 aboard was hit by an Iranian surface-to-air missile shortly after it took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport.
- After initially rejecting western assertion that an Iranian missile brought down the plane, Tehran on Saturday said one of its soldiers fired the missile, mistaking the jet for an enemy aircraft “as it turned to a sensitive area”.
- This is not the first time U.S.-Iran tensions have led to an aviation disaster. In 1988, in the last stage of the Iran-Iraq war, a U.S. Navy warship shot down an Iran Air flight over the Gulf, killing all 290 passengers.
- Then the U.S. troops said they mistook the plane for a military aircraft that was going to attack the ship. Iran says the same today. In both incidents, innocents, who did not have anything to do with the conflict, became victims.
- This time it was U.S. President Donald Trump’s reckless decision to assassinate Soleimani that pushed both countries to the brink of a war. After launching missiles at U.S. troops in Iraq in retaliation for the General’s killing, Iran’s missile defence systems were on high alert, anticipating retaliatory American air strikes.
- Iran blames “human error” for the attack on the passenger plane. But whatever the context is, it cannot abdicate responsibility for what happened. Ukraine International Airlines says the flight took off after clearance from the airport.
- The airline also rejects the Iranian military’s claim that the plane veered off its route. Iran’s admission and apology is a step in the right direction. But it should carry out, along with international investigators, a thorough probe into what led to the “accident”, and punish whoever is responsible for the “human error”.
- Such mistakes are unacceptable even in war. Iran should have put in place the highest safety measures and followed international protocols while preparing itself for enemy retaliation. Clearly it did not do so.
- And innocent people paid a price for Iran’s mistake. Both Iran and the U.S. should also ask themselves whether the confrontational path they have chosen since Mr. Trump unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, in May 2018, was worth the risk.
- Both countries were on the brink of an all-out war early this week. At least 226 people, mostly Iranians, have already lost their lives in tragedies related to the Soleimani killing (over 50 were killed in a stampede at the funeral).
- Iran should have had safety steps for civilian aircraft while preparing for enemy retaliation. If Iran is sincere in its apology, it should not only unearth what happened and punish the culprits but also take immediate steps to reduce tensions with the U.S.