Sonal Marwah


Homicide data is collected to gather evidence about the specific means by which people die due to unnatural causes. This study focuses on homicide, related to crime, violence, armed conflict, with an emphasis on gender related homicide. The study is a first attempt to systematically analyze the National Crime Records (NCRB) homicide dataset, which records 13 categories of “murder by motive”. The analysis is done from the period of 2000-2010 to assess victimization patterns in India. The assessment addresses questions of data accuracy and comprehensives, and these are necessary to examine given that NCRB is India’s principal crime data set which is referenced for both domestic and international evaluations. The study’s analysis is supplemented by drawing from UN reports, independent surveys and media articles. Of the 13 motive categories, love affairs, dowry, lunacy and witchcraft indicate specific forms of violence targeting women due to their gender. The analysis is also disaggregated by age, to better understand the proportion of females most at risk. When assessing homicide trends, it is relevant to consider the instruments of murder, and the study examines gun related homicide. NCRB data shows a marked decline in the total number of homicides during 2001-2010, the same sources show an even sharper drop in use of guns for killing. Reasons perpetuating this decline are worth examining given the protracted armed conflict situations and the problem of illegal firearms proliferation in India. A unifying theme in the study is the lack of accurate crime reporting practices. As a result, accomplishments like the declining violent crime and murder, as indicated in official NCRB data should be regarded with caution. In lieu of fully reliable data, the study provides recommendations aimed at institutional reforms to improve data recording practices to better the understanding of violence in India. 


Homicide, Armed conflict, Firearms, Crime reporting, Gendered violence.

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Journal of South Asian Studies
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