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Crime


Crime a factor originating from impatience developed in every society, ethnic group, religion, nation and state. In a greater society restlessness may be generated due to administrative weakness, regionalism, domination of a group belonging to a particular religion, caste or tribe and for many other reasons. Such impatience can disrupt not only a society's harmony, it can generate inter-religion, inter-tribe even inter-community conflict. During the reign of Hitlar, Germany became hostile to the Jews out of the massive impatience and hatred of the Germans. They tortured and drove away the Jews from their country, even killed many of them. The government of Iran also took similar measures against the members of Bahai Community. When the government machinery remains indifferent or indirectly instigates one community to annihilate another community, such heinous crime is occurred. This sort of crime was also committed in Bengal during the 1940s when both the Muslim and the Hindu communities were locked in a series of riot. After the partition of India Bangali-Bihari riot in East Bengal and Sunni-Ahmedia riot in the then West Pakistan were similar type of crime committed out of hatred. The main characteristic of such crime is a strong tendency of annihilating opponents developed among nations, communities and religious groups. This crime has now turned into a global crisis. According to the criminal psychologists, bomb attacks in public places and establishments, killing and demolition of monuments and sculptures to promote any political opinion or religious faith are the result of hatred.

According to the criminology, crimes are committed for a few reasons like bad governance and state-sponsored oppressions, failure of the judiciary to ensure fair justice and increasing domination of a powerful but impatient leader over a helpless society. However, these are not the root causes of crime. Criminal offences are committed even in industrialised and modern IT society due to the habitual nature of the offenders. Criminologists opined that if such offenders are identified, the state or the society concerned could take steps to motivate them. The massive expansion of information technology has opened up an immense prospect for the effective socio-political and economic development of a state and its socially conscious citizens. However, the technological advancement is not only increasing capacity of the industrialised society, but also bears a new message. Today not only the developed world, but the economy and defence system of developing nations also more or less depend on international computer network (internet).

Generally crime is a behaviour or activity, which breaks the legal code or the social code of a particular community. A major weakness of this definition is that it does not reveal the complex problems of the ever-changing society. The trend and type of crime are also changed with the process of social changes. Behavioural patterns of the criminals differ from society to society. For example, chewing gum selling in Singapore is an illegal act, but in the United States it is not an offence at all. So, for getting a complete idea about crime existing in a particular society, it is essential to study social codes of that particular community.

According to the sociological definition, any violation of social norm or code is a crime. It means crime is an anti-social act. There exist some human behaviours, which are not illegal, but according to the social norm, custom, convention those are not acceptable to the society. So, these activities or behaviours are considered as punishable and hateful.

Social scientists have interpreted the origin of crime from the sociological view in many ways. Sociologist Emile Durkheim suggests that crime is a social event and its formation is quite 'natural' in the social system. However, the intensity of crime differs from society to society. He admitted that sometimes crime becomes inevitable to a person for his or her survival in the society. It happens due to the weak social structure. In the Chicago School Doctrine, sociologist Park and Burges said that the detachment existing among the teams of a society creates such negative behaviour. Different social injustices are also responsible for generating crime. Sociologist Robert Murton interpreting the doctrine of derailed unscrupulousness mentioned that there exist a situation of conflict and contrast within a society, culture and social structure. He said, attaining success in a society seems to be easy but it is practically not so easier. As a result, many of the aspirants try to achieve success through many unapproved ways and behaviour bypassing the approved convention of the society. Sociologist like Tarde and Sutherland analysed the act of crime as a product of learning. On the other hand sociologist Race, Toby and Reckless opined that crime is a product of unnatural socialisation. However, the social definitions of crime have got some realistic problems. For example, opinion and ideas of different groups belong to a single community create ideological differences among those groups, as ideals are always interpretative and changed in the context of time and space.

Legal definition of crime' From the legal point of view, crime is a purposeful violation of law and penal code and there are provisions of punishment for the offenders from the state. This definition has a great feature, it is more summarised and ambiguous than the social definition. So the legal experts defined the crime as (a) a behaviour and (b) that behaviour violates the existing criminal law.

Elements of crime' Criminologists refer seven elements as determinant factor of any crime in human behaviour. These are: (i) an act which causes injury, harm, damage or loss affecting others orally and physically; (ii) statutory legality: a behaviour causing any sort of loss must be legally declared ban; (iii) criminal offence: causes harm to other, in deliberate and originated from a criminal mind; (iv) criminal mind: mental make up of the offender commit offences deliberately; (v) causation: incidents of legally banned activities are certainly committed by anybody possessing criminal mind; (vi) unanimity: there must be a relation between the offensive behaviour and the objective of crime and there should happen at a time, and (vii) punishment: no legal step would be implementable if it does not have any provision of punishment.

Classification of crime' Sociologist and criminologists observe the offensive behaviours from different perspectives. Basically, the crime is determined on the degree of concerned offensive behaviour. Crimes are generally divided into six categories. There are (i) malicious crime, committed against any person through offensive behaviours like murder, rape, sexual assaults, beating, robbering and hijacking and (ii) property related offences are committed by the offenders to gain economically or to destroy other's property through pick-pocketing, thieving, snap lifting, hijacking of motor vehicles, snatching of valuables and fire set on; (iii) offences breaking public discipline and order are directed against the state, public tranquility, safety and justice; (iv) white colour crime is very frequent, related to the malpractice of traders, professional and public servants in the form of different criminal activities like hoarding, smuggling, adulteration of foodstuffs, manipulation of weights and measures, bribery, corruption, forgery, misappropriation, cheating and breach of trust by public servants, bankers and merchants; (v) organised crime is a result of chain effect or collective efforts of offenders like smugglers, promoters of prostitution, drugs, trafficking, extortionists etc, and (vi) High Tech crime is a new phenomenon developed with the advancement of modern technology. It includes internet-based pornography, piracy of intellectual property (CD, VCD, e-book) and cyber crime.

Crime and punishment' There exists punishment for crime in every country. But the extent of punishment for a particular offence differs from country to country due to cultural diversity and convention. In the cleric-ruled and pro-religion states, the religious provisions strictly control the nature of punishment. In democratic or socialist countries, states philosophy and policy determine the provisions of punishment. However, almost every state follows a basic principle in this regard. It is very rare in modern state administrations to punish anybody on another's honour. The objectives of awarding punishment are: to realise losses incurred by the offence, and if it is not recoverable the offender is given punishment for the mental satisfaction of the victim; to aware others about the consequences of committing crime so that they refrain themselves from any kind of offensive act. From the ancient age to the early 19th century crime and punishment were defined mainly by religious and social edicts. Offenders belonging to a multi religious society were awarded different punishment according to the edicts of the concerned faith.

The trend of crime in Bangladesh (1947-71) It has been observed that Bangladesh experienced a series of communal riots before the partition of India in 1947. It created a general as well as recurrent state of statutory anarchy, which started declining after 1947. Later in 1950, Dhaka, Bogra, Barisal and Sylhet again experienced another outbreak of riot. According to the annual report of East Pakistan Police, 3383 incidents of clash, rally and riot occurred in Bangladesh in 1950. The partition of 1947 itself started generating a new type of criminal offences along the open unmarked border with India. The police had to contain this newly emerged crime, known as border offences, which include massive smuggling and frequent cross-border clashes.

Moreover, criminal offences like labour unrest, strike in industries and movement for removing zamindari system started appearing with a different dimension in the changed socio-economic and political scenario. In the annual report of Police Department of that period criminal offences were divided into six categories. These were: category one: terrific offences against the state, public tranquility, safety and justice; category two: serious offences against a person; category three: comprised serious offences against persons and property or against property only; category four: comprised minor violence against a person; category five: included minor offences against destruction of property and category six: comprised offences against special and local laws declared to be cognizable. The incidents of dacoity and robbery were increased in the country in 1948 and 1950. Criminal offences like murder, robbery, organised dacoity, theft marked a significant rise during 1956-57 due to contemporary political and economic crisis as well as weak enforcement of law.

The trend of crime from 1971' During the post liberation era, Bangladesh as a war ravaged country with weak economy and various mismanagement experienced many incidents of theft, dacoity, murder, looting, smuggling and bloody conflicts over possession of plain land and chars (sandy land). Later, the tendency of crime expanded manifold due to the change of political leadership and prolonged martial law and the emergence and internal conflict of various banned extremist groups in the country's southwest region.

Introduction of Information Technology, growth of digital culture, population boom and increased unemployment rate during the 1990s brought a radical change in the nature of crime. With the change of dimension of offences, the number of offensive occurrences is being increased day by day. Reports of the Bangladesh police and some research findings on crime situation of that period reveal that offensive behaviour pattern was dissimilar in different places and it varied from time to time. The rate of criminal offences was higher in the country's coastal districts of Jhalakathi, Barisal, Chittagong, Feni and Cox's Bazar; over populated Dhaka and Brahmanbaria; and the poverty-stricken districts of Kishoreganj, Sunamganj and Netrakona located in haors than the rest areas of the country.

At present, drug trafficking, extortion, money landering and killing by paid murderers have become very regular features beside women and children trafficking, corruption, robbery, smuggling, political violence, terrorism, kidnapping etc.

According to the police report, Bangladesh is being used as a transit for trafficking of drugs to other countries. The International Narcotic Control Board in its annual report of 2007 said that Bangladesh was the main transit route of drug trafficking from South-East Asia to Europe. It further said, the long Indo-Bangladesh land border contributed a lot in facilitating the cross-border smuggling of narcotics and drug trafficking. In Bangladesh there are three major routes of heroin trafficking as it is situated amid the neighboring source countries of India, Myanmar and Pakistan. It is estimated that at least one hundred thousand people are engaged in drug trafficking. Moreover, Bangladesh is considered as a leading country of Asia allegedly involved in computer software piracy.

Terrorism is the most burning issue of the recent time and it tops the list of offences in Bangladesh now. Political violence, religion-based terrorism, ideological terrorism, and terrorist activities run by the tribal minorities etc are affecting the state as the terrors have targeted the following sectors: government purchase and procurement (tender), energy, communication and transportation, law enforcing agencies, information and communication technology, education and public health. The geographical location of Bangladesh, its political intolerance, early access to international terrorist groups, absence of good governance and poor performance of law enforcing agencies, poverty, reluctant patrolling in border, economic disparity, illiteracy, unemployment are the factors regarded theoretically as root-causes behind the wide-spreading crime in the country. Moreover, violence against women and children in various forms like eve teasing, rape, murder, and unethical relationship are decreasing peace and harmony in the social and family life.

The table shows that a few offences like clashes, explosions, arms possession and looting declined with the passage of time.

Table Number of filed cases (2005-2009).
Sl No Nature of offences 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
1 Dacoity, robbery 796 795 1047 885 764
2 Looting 898 843 1298 1583 1298
3 Murder, killing 3592 4166 3863 4099 4219
4 Serious offences under Speedy Trail Act 1814 1638 1980 1700 1817
5 Clashes 570 570 263 203 112
6 Repression and violence against women 11426 11068 14250 14284 12904
7 Child repression and torture 555 662 967 962 1093
8 Kidnapping 765 722 774 817 858
9 Tortur by police 240 337 278 296 357
10 Burglary 3270 2991 4439 4552 3456
11 Theft 8101 8332 12015 12188 9171
12 Arms case 1836 1552 1746 1529 1721
13 Explosive related case 595 308 232 239 227
14 Drug and narcotics 14195 15479 15622 19263 24272
15 Smuggling 4334 4734 5202 7962 7817
16 Others 70046 76381 93224 87417 87022
Total cases 123033 130578 157200 157979 157108

Source www.police.gov.bd

On the other hand, criminal offences like dacoity, murder, kidnapping and burglary remained unchanged whereas the rate of filing of criminal cases relating to drug trafficking, violence against women and children, torture by police in custody was higher in the later years than those of previous years. The variation of degree of criminal offences over a long period is a very significant trend. Theoretically it is a sign of basic change of politics, economy and administration in the country. [Muhammad Abdul Kader Miah]