BHUBANESWAR: Despite existence of a host of institutions to create awareness against dowry, its scourge continues to haunt Odisha which has reported a jump in such killings.
At least 540 dowry murder cases were registered in 2013 in the State which was among the first in India to enact an anti-dowry law way back in 1970s. The 2013 homicide figures saw two per cent rise over 526 murders reported in 2012, the White Paper of Home Department stated. During the period, the number of dowry cases rose sharply from 4,898 in 2012 to 5,382 in 2013 registering 10 per cent jump.
However, the dowry-related suicide cases have reported a welcome decline from 126 in 2011 to 82 in 2012. In 2013, it further fell to 63.
During the three-year period, false cases reported to the police also saw a drop. In 2011, 59 cases were detected to be false while the number fell to 22 in 2013. The State Police, however, failed to keep pace with the number of cases by filing chargesheets whose number has slipped over the years. In 2013, chargesheets were filed in 3084 cases, just about in 57 per cent of cases. The numbers were significantly higher in 2012 and 2011 when the rate of chargesheet was 88 per cent and 92 per cent respectively. Similarly, case detection rate also fell from 97.9 per cent in 2011 to 85.5 per cent in 2013.
Although the State Police found 5,298 cases to be genuine, 2,184 cases were pending investigation during 2013.
The State Police attributes the growing incidence to rising awareness and says more women are forthcoming with their complaints against dowry.
The rising incidence is a reflection on the poor performance of the agencies that the Odisha Government has created in the last few years to arrest the trend. Notwithstanding the statutory bodies like State Commission for Women and the Human Rights Protection Cell, an arm of the State Police, the Government has established more Mahila Police Stations as well as Mahila and Sishu Desks to sensitise people against dowry and provide legal aid to the victims.
Currently, 537 police stations have Mahila and Sishsu Desks. The Government has sanctioned appointment of SI-ranked officers to man these desks.