Special crime wing on women and children without a head in Odisha
The CAW&CW presently functions with two additional SPs, seven DSPs, nine inspectors, four SIs, eight ASIs and 10 constables.
BHUBANESWAR: Arresting the rising crime graph against women and children is a stated objective of the Odisha government but its Crime Against Women and Children Wing (CAW&CW), currently, functions without a head.
In 2020, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced the creation of CAW&CW to investigate and supervise special cases related to women and children besides probing other sensitive crimes. The special wing was initiated in the wake of the horrific Nayagarh minor girl rape and murder that led to state-wide outrage.
It registered four cases in 2022 and just one so far this year. Rekha Lohani, a 1997 batch IPS officer, was the last full-time head of CAW&CW. After she went on central deputation last year, the IG of the Crime Branch Amitendra Nath Sinha was given additional charge of the special wing. Sinha went on central deputation on July 7. Currently, an additional SP rank officer is in charge of the special wing.
Apart from the top post lying vacant, the CAW&CW is marred by vacancies. Against its sanctioned strength of 60, it has 42 in place. The government sanctioned one IG rank post, two additional SPs, 10 DSPs, nine inspectors, 10 sub-inspectors, eight assistant sub-inspectors and 14 constables for the special wing. The CAW&CW presently functions with two additional SPs, seven DSPs, nine inspectors, four SIs, eight ASIs and 10 constables.
Even in the district units, the work has suffered due to inadequate resources. The 29 Investigative Units on Crime Against Women (IUCAWs) and 37 Integrated Anti-Human Trafficking Units (IAHTUs) function under the supervision of CAW&CW but operate from the district police offices. Most of its staff are drawn from the district police and get little time to focus on the specialised job.
Despite functioning without its full strength, the special wing has also been assigned the duty of studying trends and patterns of all categories of crimes against women and children across the state to strategise detection, prosecution and prevention of such crimes besides developing improved counselling strategies to deal with victims as well as juvenile offenders.
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Odisha has witnessed a steady rise in offences against women in recent years. The state recorded 23,183 crimes against women in 2019, 25,489 in 2020 and 31,352 in 2021. It also witnessed a rise in crimes against children.’Around 147 human trafficking cases were reported in the state in 2019, 103 in 2020 and 136 in 2021.
SITUATION AT PRESENT
Rekha Lohani, a 1997 batch IPS officer, was last full-time head of CAW&CW
Currently, an ASP rank officer is in charge of the special wing
42 staff posted at CAW&CW against the sanctioned strength of 60
According to NCRB, Odisha has witnessed a rise in offences against women and children in recent years