Bengal contests data ranking it highest in crime against women

Kolkata, June 12 (IANS) As the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released figures showing West Bengal recorded the highest number of crimes against women for the second year on the trot, the state government contested the data, claiming its disclaimers were not published.

The fresh NCRB statistics said West Bengal recorded 30,942 cases of crime against women in 2012 - of which 2,046 were rape cases, 4,168 kidnapping, 593 related to dowry deaths, and 19,865 cases of cruelty by husband or relatives.

Soon after the new NCRB data became public, senior administrative and police officials of the West Bengal government were huddled in a high-level meeting, following which they held an urgent media meet.

State Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee said the NCRB had been requested to publish the disclaimers so that "misconceptions" created in the media were cleared.

"We have sent them (NCRB) a number of disclaimers. But they have said they will not publish it. We have again written to them to publish the disclaimers so that misconceptions in the media are removed," Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee claimed rape cases had come down "considerably" in the state in 2012, compared to 2011, while the bulk of the crimes against women were registered under Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code, related to cruelty towards a woman by her husband or his relatives.

"Actually the number of rapes, which is said to be the most heinous crime against women, has come down when compared to 2011. In 2012, there were 1,978 cases of rape in the state, while in 2011 there were 2,317 such cases," Mukherjee said.

However, NCRB figures said in 2012 West Bengal recorded 2,046 cases of rape - lower only than Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the two states "topping" the country when it came to numbers of rape cases.

As per NCRB figures for 2011, the number of cases of crime against women was 29,133 - the highest in the country. It included 2,317 cases of rape.

Chief Secretary Sanjoy Mitra said the state government was committed to zero tolerance towards incidents of rape and crime against women.

"We will take the harshest possible measures to deal with the cases of rape. Some isolated incidents have occurred in the state over the past few days, and in every case police have taken action and the accused have been arrested," Mitra told the press conference.

"We will file a charge sheet and custody trial, and we will ask for death penalty. We will take it to the fast track court," Mitra said.

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