With the first phase of Bihar Assembly Elections in full swing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, 28 October, addressed a rally in Darbhanga and called out the previous government in the state for its lawlessness.
He stated, “Keep their track record in mind. These are the ones under whose rule, crime was so prevalent that people found it difficult to live.”
Nitish Kumar has been in power in Bihar for the past 15 years, stepping down for only a year in 2014. Before that, Lalu Prasad Yadav was in power in 1990 with the Janata Dal, followed by a stint by his wife Rabri Devi with Rashtriya Janata Dal till 2005.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have often alluded to the rhetoric of ending RJD’s ‘jungle raj.’
Despite the alliance’s many claims of improved law and order situation in the state, has the crime rate really gone down in Bihar? Let’s take a look at the data.
Increasing Crime Rate
For the sake of comparison, we will be looking at the crime rates i.e. number of crimes (under IPC) per lakh population for the years 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2019 – a year before the Assembly elections.
According to the National Crime Record Bureau’s statistics, in 2004, Rabri Devi‘s last year in power, the crime rate in Bihar was at 122.4 per lakh population while in 2019, it was at 164.8, indicating an increase of 34.6 percentage in the last 15 years.
Further, in 2004, Bihar had a 5.9 percentage contribution to crime in India, with seven states and UTs showing a higher contribution than Bihar.
Though the crime rate showed a decrease from 2014 to 2019, Bihar moved up two spots in terms of its percentage contribution to India’s crime rates, with only five states and UTs performing worse than Bihar in 2019.
According to the state police data, the absolute number of cognisable crimes have increased by 133.5 percent from 2014 to 2019.
It must be noted that the data does not account for the rising population in the state, an important factor in the rising number of crimes as well.
The NCRB switched its calculations of rate of crimes against women from per lakh population to per lakh female population in 2012, hence a comparison cannot be made between 2004 and 2019.
However, incidents of crimes against women increased from 8,091 in 2004 to 18,587 in 2019.
In a report by The Wire, DGP Gupteshwar Pandey attributes the rise in crime figures to the fact that fewer FIRs were lodged earlier.
What Has Improved?
Earlier, PM Modi in his speech in Sasaram on 23 October, stated that murders and dacoity have gone down in the state.
However, the data also indicates a noteworthy rise of 130.9 percent in the rate of thefts, which was at 12.6 in 2004, increasing to 29.1 in 2019.
While the rate of robbery decreased from 2004 to 2009, the figures show a 17.6 percent increase from 2009 to 2019.
Murder rates too have decreased by 42.2 percent in the 15-year period.
Interestingly, while murder rates have gone down, the attempt to murder cases have increased. The rate of attempts to murder show an increase of 82.3 percent from 2004 to 2019. Within just Nitish Kumar’s rule, there’s a 67.6 percent rise from 2005 to 2019.
The graph below shows the rate of different crime heads in the period 2004-19.
Like the politics of Bihar, its crime figures have also seen an uneven progress. While murders and dacoity have gone down, over-all crime remains prevalent in the state.
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