Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: When within a short span of around a year, if a State witnesses the redux of two Kathuas, then apparently there is some rot happening in the general law and order of the State.

It's only in April last year, when a six - year old girl was brutally assaulted sexually and the victim succumbed to the savagery in SCB while undergoing treatment.

This July, another eight-year old nomad girl belonging to Nagpur was again subjected to sexual barbarity. The victim critically wounded is battling for life.

The big irony in Angul crime is the perpetrators are yet to be identified, while in the last year's case the Police had arrested the accused within 48 hours.

Significantly, this surge in rape crimes have not come as anything like bolt from the blue for the State Government. The National Crime Record Bureau reports have hinted at and warned the State government and law enforcement agencies much before, but to no avail.  

Sample the home truths of the current enormity. As per NCRB analysis in 2014, sexual assault on women or girl children in Odisha was perpetrated overwhelmingly by known persons.  The NCRB report inferred that nearly 98 per cent of offenders were known to the victims.

A fundamental shift was reported by the NCRB report 2015, when it inferred that a high of 15 per cent sexual assaulters in Odisha are rank outsiders. Neither the law enforcement agencies nor the State Home department had taken any cognizance.

And the result was disastrous. An NCRB analysis in 2016 had reported that a massive 72 per cent of the rapes in the State were committed by assaulters who are rank outsiders and unknown to the victims.

And Odisha was put at the top in the country, where sexual predators are overwhelmingly unknown to the victims. In police lexicon, Odisha topped the country in stranger rapes. And their target had been minor girls, revealed the NCRB analysis.

The NCRB analysis showed how in sync with the worse shift, Odisha in 2016 recorded a high of 63 per cent of total rape victims as minor (below 18 years) vis-a-vis a mere 28 per cent in 2013.

With the law enforcement agencies and the State Home department having failed in drawing any lesson, the Angul rape in July 2019 stares at the State's face as a testimony to the NCRB 2016 analysis.

As per a statement laid in the State Assembly recently, a total of 937 rapes during the period January - May 2019 have been reported in the State. Significantly, minor rape victims are numbered at around 600.

Top police sources informed that the age-group of victims mainly belong to 6 - 13years. the age-group data looks noteworthy  as they cannot be construed as 'consensual' rapes.

As per criminology fundamentals, stranger rapes show a spike in an environment when a criminal evaluates a crime as low risk before committing it, then it shows that criminals or anti-socials have a scant regard for the authority of law of the land.

How this mindset sets in a criminal in the State? An analysis showed that every year Odisha on an average had recorded a high of around 8, 300 cases of assault on women with an intent to outrage their modesty. And the poor conviction rate of around 6 per cent in such cases had emboldened the assaulter to indulge in rape crimes later.

Data with the State police reveals that nearly three-fourths of the rapes of minors and assault with an intent to outrage modesty have come from around 10 to12 districts like Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Angul, Jajpur, Baleswar, Bhadrak, Sundargarh, Puri, Nayagarh, Jharsuguda, Ganjam and, even, State capital headquarters Khordha.