Trust Raj Thackeray to seize an emotional moment in the life of a nation and make it personal. The man is a whiz at spotting unseen opportunities and turning them into political capital. But he may be disappointed to know that the criminals lurking in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra appear to be hell-bent on matching strides with the north.
Looking at the record of crimes against women in Maharashtra in 2010 and 2011 alone, the National Crime Records Bureau indicates 1,599 and 1,701 rapes for each of the two years, as against 795 and 934 in Bihar and 1,563 and 2,042 in Uttar Pradesh.
This unpalatable difference can arguably be attributed to poorer reporting of cases in the northern states, where there is certainly a higher degree of fear and social stigma attached to the reporting of crimes against women. There is also the distinct possibility that the police in these states may be indulging in a considerable amount of burking (non-registration of complaints). This is true for Mumbai as well, but appears to be truer for the north Indian cities where life for women is believed to be more constrictive.
Only this can explain why Patna logged an unconvincing tally of four and one for 2010 and 2011 in molestation cases. Patna appears to have had fewer rapes too, 25 and 27 rapes in the two years, as against Mumbai’s horrific 194 and 221. Clearly, statistics never tell the full story. Be that as it may, by no means does the crime graph in Maharashtra, a state with a relatively liberal outlook towards women, inspire confidence or cockiness.
More than Patna, Mumbai’s real comparison should be with Delhi, with its narrower dissimilarities in social and developmental parameters, as well as the scale of women’s liberalisation, and the numbers beg for the country’s attention. In 2010 and 2011, Delhi registered 414 and 453 rapes, an eye-popping 1,422 and 1,681 kidnappings of women and girls (Mumbai had 146 and 166), 112 and 115 dowry deaths (Mumbai had 21 and 14), and 1,273 and 1,498 cases of cruelty by husband and in-laws (as against Mumbai’s 312 and 392).
Mumbai may be a shade better than Delhi at the moment. But it is steadily going the Delhi way. Women, of all ages from five to 85, are looking over their shoulders more than ever before. The kind of private bus that the Delhi braveheart took on December 16 is all too common at strategic locations across Mumbai. It is not inconceivable to think it could happen to anyone next. And that’s a bone-chilling thought.
If Mumbai is to stay ahead of Delhi, every single crime – regardless of its intensity – needs to be fought. If Raj Thackeray is more concerned about Mumbai than Patna, or Delhi, it’s time he thought of lifting a finger to help his beloved city instead of continually pointing it in the other direction.