LOCKDOWN. ENOUGH TO LOCK CRIMES?9 min read

BY- MADHUSHREE PAUL

It has been 127 days since the Janata Curfew was announced by Prime Minister NarendraModi. The Janata Curfew was followed by numerous subsequent lockdowns. These lockdowns have its pros and cons. Pros are less than cons actually. For starters, where on one hand the Nation-wide lockdown was the most feasible solution at the moment to curb the transmission of the coronavirus, it has made the economic wheel stop. Where it has made the environment much cleaner than it has been in the last couple of decades, the lockdown has brought about an insoluble rate of poverty. The crime rate in India has seen worse days, that has increased over the years, the lockdown has helped make that rate fall to half and less. The Crime rates have dropped tremendously since the beginning of the first lockdown. With no one out on the roads there is no chance of thefts or pickpocketing. From molestation to kidnapping, robberies to motor vehicle thefts, it has all gone down, thanks to the lockdown.

Where Delhi had the highest crime rate in 2017, this year the total number of crimes has dropped to 1,890 from 3,416 in the previous years.[1]

Every state in India has seen a fall in their crime rates since the lockdown started. From Uttar Pradesh to Rajasthan, Telangana to West Bengal, Kerala and Karnataka. 

See for yourself![2]

But even after all this, criminals do become criminals because they are smart (Not praising criminals in any way. Just stating facts.) Take cybercriminals as an example. The lockdown period, with all the citizens inside their homes, mostly preferring online transactions are quite open to cybercrime. From spam calls or text messages asking for bank account information all the way to launching fake fundraisers. National Crime Security Coordinator, Lt. Gen. Rajesh Pant gave his insight on this –

Cyber criminals had launched thousands of “fraud portals” related to the coronavirus. These sites have lured thousands of Indians eager to contribute to the fight against coronavirus into making donations. Many of these phony sites are quite sophisticated, virtually indistinguishable from their genuine counterparts”[3]

The most popular of these was the fake PM CARES Fund. Right after the Prime Minister’s Citizens Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund was launched to collect funds to fight this infector virus, various dupes of this initiative were spread out through social media. Senior Officials from Indian Home Ministry stated that more than 8000 complains had been received from both India and abroad. The Press Investigation Bureau tweeted about such fraudsters and conveyed how one can differentiate between a dupe and the original PM CARES Fund[4].

In today’s digital world personal data is the most important and significant of all. Protection of personal data ensures a citizen’s right to privacy. Stealing such personal data is a sheer violation of fundamental rights.

One may ask, what is Personal Data?

Personal data can start from something as simple as your full name to your bank account details or something as complex as the insurance policies one has invested in. It is the information you have uploaded in your Facebook account, the contacts in your device. It is your digital signature. Literally, everything that is personally yours is your personal data. The more the world is digitizing, the more your personal data is lying out there in the open field for the criminals to use.

The whole concept of protecting one’s personal data tags along with cybercrime. The reason why the Indian government had to ban all 59 of Chinese apps including TikTok, WeChat, Helo, UC Browser and many more. Due to the Indo-China tension going on since the past couple of weeks, the Indian government had imposed a ban on all these apps under Section 69 A of the Information Technology Act. Some of these apps were transferring personal data of Indian citizens abroad without any kind of authorization. In a press release, the Government said, the application engaged in activities “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of State and Public Order.”[5]

But even though Cybercrime is flying high as we speak, the Government has its way to look into the situation and come up with plausible solutions to save the citizens of the State.

It’s pretty obvious by now that 2020 will make sure that it is remembered throughout history, given the obstacles mankind has to face amid this pandemic. 2020 is, in fact, testing people’s patience.

Patience in remaining calm.

Patience in staying positive.

The patience of a State in maintaining its citizens.

Patience.

But most importantly, it is testing humans’ capacity of being Humane.

Apparently, it is the toughest of all. For a human being to stay humane inside the boundaries of his house is taking a toll on them. The first wave felt by the citizens was due to the virus. The second wave was lockdowns. The third wave was the falling of economies. Fourth, the wave of unemployment and poverty.

And there is the Fifth Wave.

Domestic Violence.Sexual Offence.

This is perpetual reality. It was there. It shall be there. 

The lockdown has directly resulted in a plunged rate in domestic violence in almost all the corners of the country. People are locked inside their homes with habitual offenders or immensely frustrating beings who are taking their anger out on the people around them. And the sad reality of this whole scenario is that the government hasn’t been able to come up with a possible way to solve such problems. 

This is the reality that we are living in. What do people do when they are scared of going outside with the fear of getting infected with the virus? What do people do when they are staying indoors with the fear of getting beaten to death? 

What about marital rape? That shall be a discussion for some other day since it is still not considered within the purview of Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. 

The reason why domestic violence rates are going up is that there is no way the victim of such violence can report such crimes amid this lockdown. The few reported cases amid this lockdown were not really looked into.

While pulling out so many regulations to be followed amid the lockdown to curb the transmission of the coronavirus, was it not deemed as a necessary step to make special regulations regarding domestic violence? How a victim or a to-be-victim can have easier access to the police authority nearby? Or is it just to be left out since violence has almost become a culture in India?

“16 rape, 64 molestation cases reported in J&K during coronavirus lockdown”[6] All these cases were reported after the offence has been committed.

And since we are on the topic, why leave all the other cases out.

Doctor held for rape bid on COVID positive patient in Aligarh.[7]These are the warriors, our knights in shining armour, that are saving us from this infector virus and risking their lives every hour of every day. It is commendable how amazingly the doctors and all the social workers are contributing for the society, but how does a person get the hint that the person tending to them may havesickening ideas of molesting and raping their patients?

Ahmedabad: Tutor held for ‘raping’ 12-year-old boy.[8]Rape of men and transgender people has been stigmatized even more than a female being raped. A man and a transgender getting raped is a funny joke to pseudo-feminists in our society. Possibly because men can’t get raped because they are the ones who rape. Our laws do not have their backs, no. They have to keep quite when they get raped. This whole concept is so stigmatized that even the report in itself has the term raped under quotation. As if it’s something unbelievable.

A tutor raping his 12 years old student. Is that any less a heinous crime? No. It is a sexual offence nonetheless. Against a little kid. This is the face of our country. The boy was taking online classes but the teacher wanted him to come over at his place. Because he wanted to satisfy his sexual organs. This boy has the POCSO Act to back him up. But what if this was a boy over 18 years of age? What if the boy was a gay and is being bullied for being gay?

And after cybercrimes and domestic violence and sexual offence, there comes –

Cybercrime featuring sexual offence!

“We received a total of 412 genuine complaints of cyber abuse from March 25 till April 25. Out of these, as many as 396 complaints were serious ones from women, (and these) ranged from abuse, indecent exposure, unsolicited obscene pictures, threats, malicious emails claiming their account was hacked, ransom demands, blackmail and more,” said the founder of the Akancha Foundation, AkanchaSrivastava.[9]

From Sextortion – Sexual Extortion to hacking computers and recording intimate images. It’s all in here. And it’s all because all these criminals are caged in their homes. Even the person who has never committed any sort of crimes is acting out due to frustration of staying indoors. What is the solution to this?

The noble coronavirus has given these criminals a whole new bridge for committing crimes with nobody to stop them. And the sad truth is that hardly any of these crimes are being reported or getting the footage they sure deserve because the country is interested in the rising rate of coronavirus. The country needs to understand that Coronavirus is just one of the problems out of the million problems that the human race is facing. How do you blame the moral of a virus (microscopic parasites, generally smaller than bacteria) in a Nation made of the morally unethical beings?


REFERENCES:

[1]https://www.livemint.com/news/india/covid-19-stay-at-home-reduces-crime-rate-but-fear-of-domestic-violence-rises/amp-11586746861558.html

[2]https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/crime-rate

[3]https://www.forbes.com/sites/ronakdesai/2020/05/14/cybercrime-in-india-surges-amidst-coronavirus-lockdown/#4d121cd1392e

[4]https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/tech-news-technology/fake-pm-cares-upi-id-links-dupe-people-coronavirus-6348443/

[5]https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/software/india-bans-59-chinese-apps-including-tiktok-helo-wechat/articleshow/76694814.cms?from=mdr

[6]https://www.deccanherald.com/national/north-and-central/16-rape-64-molestation-cases-reported-in-jk-during-coronavirus-lockdown-831532.html

[7]https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/doctor-held-for-rape-bid-on-covid-patient-in-aligarh-6521410/?utm_source=Taboola_Recirculation&utm_medium=RC&utm_campaign=IE

[8]https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/ahmedabad-tutor-held-for-raping-12-year-old-boy-6520543/?__twitter_impression=true&utm_source=Taboola_Recirculation&utm_medium=RC&utm_campaign=IE

[9]https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/significant-increase-in-cybercrime-against-women-during-lockdown-experts/story-QNPwq5Jr1iAkAXzacLnc5K.html

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