Kashmir’s Crime Epidemic

The rate of crime in Kashmir is not only increasing but its very nature is also changing
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Representational ImageFile

Most people carry a romanticized notion of Kashmir. The symbol of overrated natural beauty that doesn’t go beyond the serene snow-laden mountains, sparkling streams, and lush green meadows. Alas, there is an ugly face behind this bewitching romantic fairy that once was!

But today, Kashmir is plagued by drugs, theft, burglary, and murders of beastly nature. The place, considered safe and sound, is now witnessing an unprecedented increase in crime, leaving people in a state of shock and despair. The psychological trauma, the economic losses, and the social breakdown are just too much to bear.

The gut-wrenching incident that rattled the valley recently was the chopping of a young woman into pieces in Budgam. The brutality and monstrosity of the act are beyond comprehension. The woman had been missing for a day before her remains were found.

This is an utterly disturbing incident, as there have been no such gruesome cases of violence against women in the valley so far. A Kashmiri male turning into such a demon, is quite a shocking revelation. The rate of crime in Kashmir is not only increasing but its very nature is also changing.

Going by several news reports, it is absolutely unthinkable to read about killing of a man by his in-laws or an elderly woman looted and left almost dead in the outskirts of Srinagar or an attempt to kidnap a 4-year-old boy by a lady from Rajasthan. These incidents are happening in broad daylight, and are a chilling reminder of the baffling vulnerability we are confronted with.

These developments are just the tip of the iceberg. Kashmir is witnessing a surge in all kinds of crime, from petty theft, drug trafficking, sexual abuse, cyber bullying, organized gangs to the surfacing of peculiar brand of kidnappers and imposters. The impact is borne by every section of society, from the common man to the business community, and even by the UT administration.

The reasons for the surge in criminal activities are complex and interrelated. As per the latest figures of Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the current unemployment percentage in Jammu and Kashmir reads at 17.1%, and holds 4th spot of the unemployment graph in the country. The valley has been facing a severe unemployment crisis, which has pushed many young people towards crime.

Drug addiction is another major problem that is fueling criminal activities. The easy availability of drugs has created a vicious cycle of addiction and crime, which is hard to break. One study suggests that Kashmir has around 67,000 drug addicts, out of which 85 per cent (more than 56000) use heroin daily.

The government claims to tackle the issue of rising crime rates in the valley. However, they need to be more prompt and aggressive in containing the crime. The government needs to take a multi-pronged approach. Firstly, there is a need to address the issue of unemployment and provide opportunities for young people.

This can be done vigorously by promoting entrepreneurship and creating job opportunities in sectors like tourism, agriculture, and handicrafts. Secondly, there is a need to address the drug addiction problem by launching more robust awareness campaigns and rehabilitation programs past any photo-op event. 

At a societal level, we need to acknowledge the social conditions with several underlying maladies that become a catalyst for crimes. Starting from negligent families to over-all sick milieu around, we are uninvolved in events happening around us.

Drug abuse is gradually gobbling up our young. While unemployment, insecurity and aligned frustrations are wearing out them, we have vainglorious people busy in creating a counterfeit territory through the smokescreen of photo shopped selfies, scenery, serenity and smugness on social media. Beyond such utopian world, there is a disturbing dystopia that we collectively ignore to stare at.

Besides, remaining in a state of denial and resorting to a selective condemnation of crimes happening in Kashmir is a big commentary on our prejudices. We become hyper-vocal Twitterati and FB warriors when a “non-local” angle is associated with crime.

And the placid disposition over the “local” involvement in horrific crimes, especially against women, has become our trademark; and we appear quite unruffled while maintaining silence over them. This has irrefutably boosted brazenness and cheekiness in the crimes occurring in Kashmir.

Call to mind the shocking saga of 2019 when a girl from Bandipora committed suicide as she could not stand the mental trauma after facing frequent assaults from none else than her father!

Our slipshod attitude brimmed with delusions of grandiosity is going to ruin us. Acknowledging and then addressing the rot of crime is the need of the hour. Seeing the crimes in Kashmir solely through a political prism can’t be afforded anymore.

Even if it’s an organized crime which has scandalous patronage from different quarters, we need to look into our core and trace the origins. Institutional failures, from parents to pulpits, are closely interlaced with our indigenous social, cultural and economic existence. Rising crime here is a fait accompli as is the adversity of politics.

The time has come to pigeonhole issues and right now, community policing can be helpful to tackle the soaring crime rate. Community policing as a strategy can involve synergy between the police and the community to crack crime and enhance public safety.

The police need to work closely with the community, building trust and rapport. This will encourage people to shun fear and come forward and report crimes, leading to the prosecution of crime perpetrators. 

Importantly, we should stop dismissing women as ‘devil incarnate’ for every wrong that happens to them or takes place in society. The antediluvian concepts of ‘social justice and gender equity’ need a dressing down. Whether pulpits or public forums, let’s accept our flaws and work on mending the system–societal as well as administrative.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK

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