Simanti Sen has had experiences of living in four different cities across the country, thanks to her father’s job, her higher education, and then her own career. However, the 36-year-old IT employee feels that though no place can be called entirely safe, it’s Kolkata that gives her the safest vibe. “No matter which city you are in, if you are a woman, you will be looking over your shoulder, especially at night or in empty lanes. But overall, Kolkata fares much better in my opinion.”
Impressive Report Card
Even as the overall crime rate in India increased by 1.3 % in 2018, compared to 2017, Kolkata emerged as the safest city in India to live in, the second time in a row, reveals the 2018 edition of ‘Crime in India’ statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
With the lowest rate of cognizable offences recorded from here, the City of Joy claims the top spot in the list of country’s safest cities. With a score of 152.2, Kolkata remains on the top as the safest city in India, followed by Hyderabad, Pune, and Mumbai. The list drawn by the NCRB measured cognizable offences recorded per lakh people in 19 Indian cities including metros.
The Bengal capital has, however, dropped a spot when it came to Indian Penal Code (IPC) cases, securing a second position after Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. With a score of 134.4 Coimbatore beat Kolkata’s IPC crime rate score of 139.5. This, however, is much better than the national average which stood at 478.4, a jump from 462.2 in 2017. (Cities with a population of more than 20 lakh are taken into consideration by NCRB for both categories.)
Safety Comes with Better Policing in the City
With more and more citizens across the country now looking for viable results in determining how safe a city is rather than at the number of government policies, the perception of safety in a metro city is undergoing some serious changes. Amidst the recent nationwide outcry over of worsening law and order situation in the country with a specific focus on crimes meted out against women, Kolkata has been successful in bringing down its crime rate by a substantial 25 % over five consecutive years with the total number of cases declining from 26,161 in 2014 to 19,682 in 2018. The steady fall of the crime rate in Kolkata is looked upon by many as a direct fall out of an active and focused policing that could contain the number of violent crimes in the city.
According to the top brasses of the Kolkata Police force, ground-level changes, both in law and order maintenance and patrolling has helped the city’s police force to curb crime. From an emphasis on scientific crime detection to cameras that could read car number plates to live feeds of incidents, the use of technology also went a long way in controlling the rate of crime in Kolkata, according to high-placed police officers. Creating public awareness and taking recurrent outreach initiatives has also borne fruit in earning the faith of the common citizens.
Improved Performance in Controlling Crime against Women
Kolkata’s number one position in the safe-city index in India is largely due to its improved performance in protecting its women against crime. Kolkata has always been regarded as a safe city when it came to women’s safety and the numbers today reflect this. The total number of crimes committed against women in the state has dropped from 32,513 to 30,394. The rate of crime against women in Kolkata stood at 64.4, with at least seven states — Haryana, Rajasthan, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Assam recording much worse numbers. With 1069 cases reported in 2018, the number of rape cases has also come down since 2017.
Prioritising women’s safety, Kolkata Police has set up all-women, bike-borne patrolling teams — Winners, dedicated anti-rowdy squads comprising 75 teams across the 78 police stations in Kolkata and the 1091 toll-free dial-in-service for distressed and harassed women to report all complaints of eve-teasing, etc. Recently launched a “free-ride” scheme is also targeted to boost women’s safety in the city.
Government Initiatives Played a Key Role
The West Bengal government’s focused attention in creating a dedicated infrastructure for enhanced functioning of the police department along with deployment of additional manpower, setting up of new police stations, technological and human vigilance up-gradation, among other things, has played a key role in ensuring an upbeat policing in the city. A number of steps are taken by the government to ensure Kolkata is safe for its citizens.
Polarised Views on Law and Order Situation
The NCRB 208 report comes at a time when views are polarised over the law and order situation in the state. The two areas where the city’s safe image takes beating are the huge number of recorded “hurt” cases and the two reported cases of acid attacks. In fact, Kolkata remained in the list of 3 cities that reported acid attacks this year along with Delhi and Chennai. Topping the charts in “hurt” cases (17,969) and attempts to murder cases (12062) West Bengal has emerged as the fourth most violent state in the country.
For a metro with over 6.1 million in population, Kolkata has a surprisingly low crime rate. However, you must take certain steps to ensure the safety of your home. Though the city’s love for peace and harmony is ingrained in its culture, further steps in terms of “core policing” are needed to bring down the crime rate in the city and the state.
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