Love is what makes life worth living but, if the latest crime statistics are anything to go by; it remains a potent killer in India. While love affairs and sexual relations were the third most common cause for murders in the country in 2012 — after personal vendetta and property disputes — they accounted for most murders in seven states, including Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab.
According to the crime data for 2012 — released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) — personal enmity was behind 3,877 of the 13,448 murders, where the figures clearly identify the motives (with the rest of the total 34,434 murders attributed simply to ‘other causes’). Property disputes were the reason for 3,169 murders and love affairs and sexual relations led to 2,549 killings across the country.
The state-wise data is even more interesting. In what could make Cupid squirm, romantic liaisons surpassed personal vendetta and property disputes as the single biggest motive behind murders in Andhra Pradesh (445 murders), UP (325), Maharashtra (254), Punjab (83), Jammu & Kashmir (11), Himachal Pradesh (10) and Nagaland (2). The number of people killed for love in Tamil Nadu was 291, Gujarat (116) and Delhi (54) and was almost equal to murders caused by vendetta or property matters.
Haryana, infamous for honour killings, does not figure among the states where love is the biggest killer. As compared to 50 such killings, personal vendetta accounted for 218 murders.
The ‘low scorers’ were Kerala (3) and most of the north-eastern states. Love-driven murders were also significantly lower in Rajasthan and West Bengal (39 each) as compared to those arising out of vendetta and property disputes.
There are other revelations in the NCRB data on causes and motives of murders in 2012, which mostly stick to the trends seen since 2001. Bihar accounted for most murders over property disputes last year, which at 1,159 are nearly 36.6% of such killings across the country and 32.5% of the total murders in the state. Bihar recorded the highest murders over personal vendetta (570) and was next only to UP in terms of total murders. While UP recorded 4,966 murders last year, Bihar ranked second with 3,566 murders.
Assam recorded the highest murders due to casteist motives (41), accounting for 56% of the total murders in this category.
Dowry had its most victims in Odisha and West Bengal, claiming 415 and 252 lives, respectively. Andhra Pradesh (167), Maharashtra (130) and Bihar (102) also scored high on dowry deaths. Interestingly, a look at data since 2001 shows a sharp rise in dowry murders from 968 in 2001 to 1,339 in 2011 and 1,458 in 2012.
For those who thought witchcraft was an evil of yore, the 119 deaths it caused nationally in 2012 convey the stark reality. Most witchcraft murders were recorded in Odisha (32), followed by Jharkhand (26), Andhra Pradesh (24) and Bihar (13). The all-India figure in 2012 is much lower than the 240 recorded in 2011 or 126 in 2001.
Political motives claimed 120 lives across the country. No prizes for guessing that Bihar outperformed other states with 32 political murders. While Madhya Pradesh follows next with 28 such murders, West Bengal accounted 22. Political murders in 2012 were less than the 240 recorded in 2011 and 174 in 2001. The sharp decline is largely due to the fall in political killings in Andhra Pradesh from 39 in 2001 and 33 in 2011 to just 2 last year.